The Pros and Cons of OpenTable

If you’re a restaurant, chances are that you’ve heard of OpenTable, the online and mobile program that allows users to look up restaurants and make a reservation without needing to call the restaurant.

When it comes to using OpenTable, most restaurants are either completely for it or completely against it, and the following are just a few of the pros and cons of the popular site.

Pro: It can help your restaurant be found.

You may have a website and great marketing tactics of your own, but if you want to increase your reach, OpenTable can help. By subscribing to OpenTable, your restaurant can be found among all those listed when a user performs a search. If the customer didn’t know that your restaurant existed, then they may have never come across your business if it weren’t for their OpenTable search. Aside from this, finding ad teams is also a must if you truly want your business to flourish faster than expected. 

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Con: It can be expensive.

The biggest complaint from most restaurants is that subscribing to OpenTable can be very expensive. First, you’ll need to pay an upfront fee just to use the service, and then you’ll be required to pay a monthly subscription to the service, which can run you hundreds of dollars. Depending on how many reservations your restaurant receives from OpenTable, your restaurant may not find that OpenTable is worth its pricey investment.

Some restaurants have found that if they build their own website that allows for online reservations and do a great job at promoting their restaurant that they will spend less money and get the same amount of traffic as they would if they used OpenTable.

Pro: It can free up your staff.

OpenTable works seamlessly with your reservation program to book tables for your restaurant. If you use this system, you may find that you don’t need someone to man the phones and take reservations the old-fashioned way because your customers will be more willing to make their reservations online instead. This will allow your staff to focus on other tasks, such as getting the restaurant ready for your rush or stocking up the bathrooms with toilet paper.

Con: It may not work.

Although OpenTable has a decent success rate, it does rely on technology, and technology can fail. You may find that a handful of customers come into your restaurant claiming to have an OpenTable reservation that is not appearing on your schedule. If you don’t know about the reservation, it’s possible that you may not have a table available to seat your guests. This can be very frustrating to your patrons, and it could cause them to either cause a scene, leave without eating or even write a negative review about your restaurant on OpenTable or another restaurant review site.

Pro: You can get more reservations.

If your restaurant doesn’t get many reservations, it’s possible that subscribing to OpenTable can help give you a boost. Along with being found more often by new guests, the ease of making a reservation through OpenTable may be just the thing your guests need to choose you over the competition.

Con: Online reservations are not the most popular.

You would think that being able to make a reservation online would be the most popular choice for restaurant guests, but in reality, most guests prefer to call the restaurant to make a reservation. Not only do they feel as if there is less chance for error, but it also allows them to provide the restaurant with special details or requests that may  get lost while using OpenTable.

Caroline Jones is a restaurant manager. She specializes in reputation management and review tracking. Caroline recently connected with opentable reviews to help generate customers and reviews.


  1. If OpenTable are bringing you a whole lot of “out of town” guests who might not have discovered you then each dollar spent is great value for money. But if all that is happening is that your local repeat customers are coming via OpenTable then that dollar has not been wisely spent and you should look at doing all you can to moving them onto an alternative online booking mechanism that is not costing you.