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Guest Acquisition

When should restaurants choose an OpenTable competitor?

Mike Vichich
created on
Dec 30, 2016

Almost two decades of OpenTable dominance


OpenTable seats 21 million diners each month at over 40,000 restaurants around the globe, making it by far the most dominant restaurant reservation system on the market. Restaurants of all shapes and sizes have been willing to pay OpenTable's steep prices—for the tool and for the network.


But should restaurants still be willing to pay for OpenTable, or is there finally a viable alternative? The first part of that answer has to do with the tool, and the second part, the OpenTable network. 


Alternative restaurant reservation systems, like Wisely's Hospitality Hub, have matched the tool aspect of OpenTable feature-for-feature. In our case, we've even gone further, optimizing Hospitality Hub for upscale casual and casual restaurant groups who drive a sizable percentage of revenue through walk-ins, but still want the usual features — waitlist, reservations, table management, server sections, and POS integration. 


Historically, the harder part for OpenTable competitors to match has been its diner network. While painful, restaurants have been willing to pay the $1 per cover fee, because it was a defacto part of the marketing budget. Said differently, it made sense to trade $1 per cover for a seated table of guests. In the absense of a viable, higher ROI alternative, relying on OpenTable's network to fill the dining room was logical. 


Facebook destroyed OpenTable's competitive advantage—its diner network. 


We recently wrote about how restaurants can use Facebook to grow sales. In this post, however, we want to compare Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) on Facebook vs. OpenTable, importantly over a customer's lifetime. The graphic below illustrates that restaurants are paying too much to acquire repeat guests or large parties through OpenTable. Conversely, our analysis also shows that OpenTable can absolutely be the right choice if a restaurant is largely occasion driven (think anniversary or birthday dinners at Per Se in NYC). However, if you've ever found yourself wondering why you're paying $1 per cover for a regular who's been coming in for years, there's finally another option. 


OpenTable Pricing vs Competitors.jpeg


Ultimately, in order for an OpenTable alternative to make sense, your new reservation system needs sophistication in how it communicates with Facebook. Wisely automatically creates more than 15 different audiences on Facebook, based on guest behavior.


If you think your restaurant could benefit from a free analysis of your OpenTable data, send us a note to hello@getwisely.com.




Wisely empowers restaurant groups to grow and sustain profitability by acquiring valuable new guests, converting them into regulars, and keeping them happy for life. Our software is easy-to-use and enhances productivity, so staff can focus on what really matters. For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at hello@getwisely.com.