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Press Release

Counter Intelligence: Online reservations

July 2, 2008
The time may soon be upon us when diners no longer avail themselves of a device so 20th-century as a telephone to make a restaurant reservation. They'll take care of it online.

Many already are. OpenTable.com, which handles online reservations for 8,500 restaurants worldwide (including 163 in the Twin Cities area), logged 3 million reservations in May. That's a major growth curve: The May 2007 figure was 2 million.

Restaurants pay a monthly user fee and are charged $1 for every seated diner booked through the OpenTable.com system and 25 cents for every seated diner booked through the restaurant's website via OpenTable.com. The service, now in its 10th year, is free to consumers.

OpenTable.com recently launched a mobile version (mobile.opentable.com) and is also now offering a new diner-input review service, a kind of online Zagat, except these ratings (which look at food, service, ambience and other measures) are constantly updated by 200,000 user entries per month. Is that going to put critics like me out of business?

"No," said OpenTable.com spokesman Scott Jampol. "Diners are relying upon both expert opinions and diner-generated opinions. It's a blend, not one or the other."

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