- OpenTable will launch a feature later this month enabling restaurants to tag diners as "verified for entry" once they meet certain requirements, such as showing proof of vaccination.
- Once diners are tagged, they are cleared for entry at that restaurant or any restaurant within that group going forward without having to show proof of vaccination again. OpenTable won't store vaccine card data, however.
- The new feature follows the launch of OpenTable's Direct Messaging and the expansion of its Safety Precautions, which allow restaurants to include vaccination requirements on their listings.
With cities such as New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans adding vaccine requirements to enter restaurants, much of the burden of enforcement will fall on employees to ensure their workplace is in compliance. This OpenTable tool could ease that pressure by reducing the number of patrons employees must request proof of vaccination from.
"Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen diners choose to visit restaurants that they know and have been to before (repeat visits are up 28% compared to 2019), making this tool for restaurants particularly relevant," OpenTable CEO Debby Soo said in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive.
Transparency and communication will be key to ensure vaccine checks go smoothly between employees and customers. OpenTable will send reminders to diners during the reservation process and in all confirmation emails if a restaurant has tagged that it requires proof of vaccination. Its Direct Messaging feature, which is now being used by 1,500 OpenTable restaurants, will also allow diners to ask restaurants questions about safety measures and make other inquiries prior to arrival, according to the press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
On Monday, OpenTable also launched a "Dine On" campaign in San Francisco encouraging patrons to continue to go to restaurants, especially as many start to face criticism on social media regarding their vaccination requirements and safety precautions. With COVID-19 cases rising and regulations tightening, OpenTable has already seen a 16% drop in seated diners in San Francisco in August compared to July. The company previously rolled out a "Show Up for Restaurants" initiative in June to help mitigate no-shows and has also created a map for diners of U.S. restaurants that require proof of vaccination to eat inside.