I met a restaurateur who wanted to take reservations. Customers were willing to travel to dine with her, but didn’t want to do so without a knowing a table was waiting for them.  Lot’s of calls; lot’s of “I’m sorry we don’t take reservations.”  Ok.  So take reservations.  How?  Open Table.  Really?

   Me: “Have you thought about alternatives to Open Table?”

   Her: “No”

   Me: “why not?”

   Her:  “They have all the customers”

Her issue was that customers were calling her for reservations- her customers.  Her response was to sign with Open Table to get…their customers.  Open Table is kicking butt, driving a ton of reservations but one of the ways they do that is turning their client websites into a channel for customer acquisition.  Everytime a guest reserves on your site with their technology, they are walking through an Open Table branded experience.

You’ve just trained your customers to use a third party service to book with you.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am an Open Table fan.  They have a great consumer presense and can generate signficant business for client restaurants.  But it is one thing to get customers from them.  Another entirely to get customers for them.

Keep that in mind before you sign up for the 90 day trial.