- OpenTable has launched an online tool called Matchmaker ahead of Valentine's Day to help couples choose where they will eat for the holiday, according to a company release. The tool provides personalized recommendations in a few seconds following a series of questions about party size, ideal cost, ambiance and preferred cuisine.
- According to a survey by the reservation platform, 1 in 2 diners would rather wash dishes than debate what and where to eat. The research also found that 4 in 10 U.S. consumers will concede to whatever their partner wants to settle bickering over dinner options.
- Caroline Potter, chief dining officer at OpenTable, said in the release that the company seated more than 2 million diners on Valentine's Day last year.
Though OpenTable is still top dog in the reservations platform space, servicing 47,000 restaurants in 20 countries and seating 26 million diners per month, competitors like Resy, Foursquare and Yelp Reservations are gaining ground. The pressure to differentiate is on, and Matchmaker is OpenTable's latest marketing investment to stand out from the crowd.
The online service recently tested its OpenSeat program in partnership with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, which allows participating strangers to be seated together when they make a reservation. Taking a similar experience-focused concept but anchoring it around Valentine's Day is a savvy move for OpenTable, as it could poach diners from other sites on one of the biggest holidays for the restaurant world.
And if the tool functions well around the big day, OpenTable could in theory make it an everyday application. Within Matchmaker, customers can choose from the following categories: "It's a date," "I'm Bringing the Family" or "Celebrating with Friends." It then jumps to "I'm going all out" or "Cheaper is Better." Cuisine categories include: American, Steakhouse, Mexican, French, Italian, Japanese and more. Because aesthetics are crucial for consumers, atmospheres range from "Formal and Fancy" to "Romantic" and "Casual and Low Key."
But the Matchmaker application isn't the only personalized technology being tested in the space. Resy is also experimenting with a customizable search tool and plans to launch it in two months.
"Our tool will help you find new restaurants that reflect what you value — for example, a great wine list, a local gem, top-notch design," Resy CMO Victoria Vaynberg told Bloomberg. Vaynberg said the company had considered launching the application on Valentine's Day this year, but "the pursuit of the perfect restaurant for an occasion is one our diners are faced with year-round, and we knew we could be of assistance."
It seems likely that convenience-focused and personalized online functions like this will continue to crop up as competition intensifies. OpenTable would do well to hone its service and simultaneously keep it simple for diners and restaurateurs alike to stay a step ahead.