Will dine for travel: OpenTable lets loyalty members redeem points at Kayak
- OpenTable loyalty members can now redeem their dining points on hotel stays booked through sister brand Kayak, according to a blog post on Kayak.com. To start, only U.S. customers with at least 2,000 points in their account can take advantage of the program, which starts at a $20 hotel discount for 1,000 dining points and maxes out at 10,000 points or a $200 discount per stay.
- The move to integrate these two brands, both owned by Booking Holdings comes after Kayak CEO Steve Hafner took over at OpenTable in October.
- Previously, customers could redeem their dining points for digital gift cards accepted at more than 20,000 participating U.S. restaurants, or they could choose an Amazon gift card. The Kayak redemption stands to be the best bargain with a two-cent valuation, according to The Points Guy, compared to 0.5 to 1.25 for dining points or 0.5 for Amazon.
OpenTable’s loyalty program might be more robust than other Booking brands, but it hasn’t necessarily convinced the public of extreme benefit. The company wouldn’t disclose its loyalty membership to Skift Table, which requires that customers create an OpenTable profile and choose to receive dining points for each eligible reservation made through an OpenTable site.
Until 2015, members would receive a check from OpenTable to cash at a restaurant or a bank. In August of that year, OpenTable required that you choose from a set list of restaurants to redeem points, and then it tacked on a three-year expiration date and devalued redemption worth. One hundred points no longer automatically converted to $1. For instance, 2,000 points could be redeemed for $10 or $20 reward cards, depending on the restaurant, while 5,000 points were worth $25 or $50 and 10,000 points $50 or $100. Customers couldn’t just show up at the restaurant and use the gift card, either; to redeem, they must make an OpenTable reservation to activate the reward and redeem it.
The deals might not be that great in reality, either, as The Points Guy explains. At roughly 2 cents per point, the Kayak deal surpasses dining points redemption value and hurdles over the Amazon gift card, potentially killing that benefit. But 2,000 points cuts only $20 off a hotel room — savings often offered by hotel loyalty programs as well as AAA or AARP memberships — and many hotel chains don’t honor their own loyalty points for stays booked through online travel agencies like Kayak.
Without knowing the breadth of OpenTable’s loyalty program, it’s tough to say how much of an impact this complementary deal will have on the company’s stature in the now competitive reservation world. The online reservation pioneer hasn’t neglected improvements, allowing customers to choose their seat at the bar, chef’s counter or outdoor table, for instance. People who dine out often also frequently travel, but hotel chains offer some competitive loyalty programs themselves.
Resy, which now owns Reserve, has banked on unique experiences winning over customers. Just last week the disruptive company announced its Restaurant Week spinoff, “Off Menu Week,” to showcase unique menus and beta-dishes at select restaurants in six cities throughout 2019. It also works with Airbnb to offer customers unique travel and dining experiences, and announced in spring of last year that it was testing its own loyalty program, Resy Select. This latest move by OpenTable and Kayak could spur Resy to leverage its connections with Airbnb in a similar way, and perhaps a larger trend in the reservation space.