OpenTable is an online restaurant reservation service company that started in San Francisco in the late 1990s and within a few years was available across the U.S. and in several countries around the globe.
Joe and I have been members of OpenTable since 2007. Being able to make a reservation without a phone call has been lovely for this woman who doesn’t like talking on the phone ;-), but we also like it because with most reservations you get either 100 or 1000 points that can be redeemed for money off at member restaurants. OpenTable has over 40,000 restaurants to choose from in nearly a dozen countries, so it’s a nice way to build up points even when you’re traveling. It’s also a cool way to make reservations at some restaurants on Walt Disney World property, even if they have no availability on Disney’s Advance Dining Reservation software.
Here’s how it works…
Once you’ve signed up for OpenTable (OT), you can go online or use their app (available for iOS or Android) and choose any of the 40,000+ restaurants they represent in the many markets they cover. Since we live in Orlando, we use OT for Central Florida the vast majority of the time, but have been known to make reservations in NYC, Sedona, Washington DC, London, Dublin and Sydney (OT is currently available in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the United States of America). You tell OT the date and time you’re looking for, along with the location, restaurant or cuisine you want, and once you find something that suits you, make a reservation.
If you’re not sure where you want to eat, OpenTable can also give you nearby recommendations of places similar to where you’ve made reservations in the past, some of the more popular restaurants OT has to offer, or places you’ve eaten before that maybe you’d like to visit again.
You can collect Dining Points when you make and honor reservations, which you can redeem for rewards when you have enough Dining Points accrued. Most restaurants give you 100 Dining Points after you’ve honored your reservation, but some will give you 1,000 Dining Points, mostly for reservations at oddball times (usually very early or very late seating), or at brand new restaurants trying to drum up business.
LEFT: You would get 100 points once you honored this reservation at Season 52 (and you should – it’s one of our most favorite restaurants in Orlando)
RIGHT: If you got a reservation between 5pm and 5:45pm at Ravenous Pig (which was “this close” to making our list of favorites), you’d get 1,000 points.
Once you have a minimum of 2000 points, you can consider redeeming them for an OpenTable Dining Reward (which will give you money off a future OT restaurant reservation visit), or an Amazon gift card. If you redeem your points for the Amazon gift card, each point would be worth $0.005 each, so your 2000 points would get you a $10 GC. Redeeming your 2000 points for a Dining Reward is a potentially better deal, as it makes makes your points worth between $0.005 and $0.01 each (so you’d get between $10 and $20 off your next reservation), depending on the restaurant, date and time of the reservation you choose (so figure each 100 point reservation is worth up to $1 and each 1000 point reservation is worth up to $10).
(NOTE: The value and usage of OpenTable Dining Rewards varies from country to country. My examples above are specific to the U.S. and may not be the same as in other countries that OT covers).
Of course, nothing gold can stay and over the years, as OpenTable has changed owners, tried to make more money, etc., it’s become more difficult to earn and redeem points (you now have to opt in to receive points, not all restaurants involved in OT are involved in the OT Rewards Program, etc.), point values have decreased (in earlier years, all points were worth $0.01 each, period, and they were only good for OT Dining Rewards), and there have been less 1000 point rewards available. There are other online restaurant reservation service companies out there, such as Reserve, Resy and Yelp Reservations, but OpenTable is the only one that offers a point system for its users. It might take forever and a day to be eligible for an OT Dining Reward (unless you snag a couple of 1000 point reservations), but whatever reward you get, it’s free and is still more than what the other places offer. So there’s that.
For more info about OpenTable in the U.S., check out their website that fits you best:
- Mobile site
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