Reuters blogger and Gastronomics expert Felix Salmon has some thoughts today on OpenTable: Specifically, why isn’t it better? He concedes that, in its current form, OpenTable is still a far better reservation-making system than, say, calling a popular restaurant on the phone, waiting through the hold music, then inevitably being told by a reservationist that the only available times for a table are 4:45 or 11:30 p.m But still, Salmon has some ideas that he says would make the service far more usable for the people actually making the reservations.
First: Why not interact with Facebook, so a user’s friends can see where he or she is eating? That functionality, in turn, could make it easier to invite Facebook friends to join you for the meal. And why can’t OpenTable figure out when a user has already been to a restaurant? (We’ll concede that last thing is super annoying: OpenTable really can’t remember if its users have been somewhere before?)
Instead, OpenTable has focused its energy on appealing to restaurateurs, who have in the past expressed frustration with the company. But, as Salmon puts it, “If OpenTable could make restaurant reservations fun and easy enough that people actually started eating out more, then the push back from restaurants in terms of OpenTable’s cost would surely dissipate overnight.”