So the scenario looks a little something like this: Having Geek Dinner 2 tonight and needed to find a place to seat 8 people, preferably in a quieter location where we can chat. Gotta find a spot. Where do I go? OpenTable.com.
I know they’ve been around since 1998, but they made it through the dot-collapse, and while I won’t say they vanished, they aren’t ‘exciting and new’ anymore. But I also know that there’s a lot of folks out there who haven’t heard of them, so I figured I’d give them a little shout-out.
Bottom line is it’s about the easiest site in the world to use. No need to register (although you can and there is a good incentive to do so, which I’ll mention in a moment), you can just start searching. For tonight’s dinner, I clicked on San Francisco and was given a very simple search page.
I selected a few options, including party size and price point, and clicked Search. One really nice option in their search system is grouping – most search engines require you to pick one or another option (e.g. all 2-star restaurants), but they intelligently include grouped options (e.g. up to 2-star restaurants).
Results come back quite quickly, and are presented in a very appealing layout, with simple easy-to-use search and sort options. Not only that, in addition to searching your target time, the OpenTable system automatically displays Earlier and Later options for each result:
I picked my choice, and gave my phone number and email address. I was also able to add comments (such as “we’d like a private room if possible”) which go straight to the maitre d. Also, I’m given the option to register, which gets me “opentable points”. Again, if I don’t want to register, I’m all done, reservation made, voila.
For every reservation you make (and keep – because anyone can make reservations, but it’s keeping them that matters), you get 100 points. Every time you hit 2000 points, you can get a dining check for $20. That’s it, no fees, no nothing.
That’s it – I guess I’m 8 years late on reviewing the service (although I’ve been using it for 3), but hey, I’m not always the first on the block for things. I would like to see a tighter integration with CitySearch (or, yawn, Yelp, I guess), since they have that relationship already. Would be nice to see instant reviews, recommendations, etc all on the same place, but hey, I can always open another window or tab, right?
I wonder if I need a “food” category? 😉