How Restaurants Can Save Money On OpenTable

opentable restaurant marketing

Let me make it perfectly clear from to beginning of this post: if your restaurant uses OpenTable, you need to read this post.  A great deal has been written lately about the cost of OpenTable to restaurants.  Many restaurant owners have decided that the cost per reservation does not justify using the system.  I would argue that the pool of diners who use to decide where to eat justifies the expense.  Paying $1.00 per guests making their reservation through OpenTable makes sense, IF they chose your restaurant after seeing it on  What makes absolutely no sense is for a restaurant owner to make the easiest destination to make a reservation after the guest has decided to eat at their restaurant.

Let me start by explaining the difference:

If a party of four makes a reservation through, the restaurant is charged $1.00 per guest or $4.00 total.

If that same party of four makes the same reservation through the OpenTable app on the restaurant’s website, the restaurant is charged $0.25 per guest or $1.00 total.

In other words, your restaurant saves 75% by having the guest make the reservation through the restaurant’s website.  I am not going to discuss the merits of paying $1.00 for a guest who has never heard of your restaurant finding in on OpenTable and deciding to make a reservation based on that discovery.  That depends on a number of factors.  The fact is that if a guest has already decided to make a reservation at your restaurant, you need to make sure that the easiest way to do so is by using the OpenTable app you provide.  The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to make the reservation in a way that saves you 75%.

So how do you make it easier for you guest to use the OpenTable app?

Have the OpenTable App on your website:  This is the first and most basic step.  I know restaurant owners don’t like to think about their website once it is complete.  This is incredibly costly when it comes to OpenTable.  By not installing this on your website, you agree to pay four times as much for every reservation you receive through OpenTable.  Some restaurant owners argue that if they don’t offer this app, the guests will call the restaurant.  This is a possibility, but guests that are inclined to call would have done so anyway.  Guests that looked you up online and went to the website are far more inclined to want to handle this task online (that is why they are at your website instead of speaking to your hostess).  So give them the option on your website rather than having them go to OpenTable or to your competitor’s website that has the app.

Have OpenTable on your Facebook page:  Recently one of my favorite restaurants posted on Facebook that you could make reservations at their restaurant via  My head nearly exploded.  I know the owner so I sent him a message explaining this.  In a very brief time had the OpenTable app loaded directly onto his Facebook page and I created some graphics from their logo to make it visually appealing.  Now they are advertising on Facebook that guests can make reservations on their page.  This gives them a competitive advantage over other restaurants by making it simpler for the guest and saves them 75% on each OpenTable reservation that comes in this way.  I have even installed a demonstration app (from a different client) on The Hospitality Formula Network’s Facebook page.  Remember to “like” us while you are there.

Check Your Google Ranking:  If a guest who wasn’t familiar with your restaurant was looking to eat at a restaurant like yours, what would they search for?  Type that term into and see what comes up.  If you do not come up on the first page, you are losing business.  I am going to be talking a great deal about this in coming weeks.  Now try searching your restaurant’s name.  If the link to your restaurant shows up after OpenTable, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, or other sites of this type, you are losing money.  This is something that can be easily addressed through a few hours work or cheaply outsourced to a professional.

The value of OpenTable can be calculated in a number of ways.  I personally think it is a wise move for restaurants that take the time to properly utilize it.  In order to save significantly on the cost of OpenTable, you must make the OpenTable app available to your guests in a manner that makes it less work than making the reservation through the OpenTable website.  Your guests will choose the path of least resistance.  Making it simpler for them to make these reservations is an additional service you can provide that will lower your OpenTable costs by 75%.

Feeling overwhelmed?  Want to make this change, but don’t know where to start?  That is what I am here for.  I am making a limited time offer to help get your started by installing the OpenTable app on your Facebook page.  I won’t be offering this service for long.  I simply want to help restaurants who want to make this change do so at a price that prevents you from getting fleeced by companies offering this service for far more than it is worth.  If you would like to learn more, check out my limited time OpenTable offer.

About David Hayden

Restaurant industry professional helping small restaurants with their training, operations, and marketing needs. Author of Tips2: Tips For Increasing Your Tips and Building Your Brand With Facebook. You can also visit my other websites and blogs at:


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