OpenTable's recent redesign focuses on in-the-moment, location-based bookings.

Adam Campbell-Schmitt
May 02, 2018

When you're booking a reservation at any restaurant, let alone a hotspot like the Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year, it behooves you to plan ahead. But sometimes you just plumb don't, or you forget, or you decide at the last moment that your groceries can wait another night to be cooked and you're hitting the town. In the old days, you'd have to call around to see if there were any tables available at in-demand restaurants, but a bevy of reservation apps have surfaced in recent years to solve your booking woes, OpenTable, which debuted online all the way back in 1998, chief among them. Apparently, more of us aren't planning ahead than ever, which is why OpenTable has redesigned its app experience to put making day-of, nearby reservations font and center.

The redesign, which launched this week on iOS and will hit Android phones in the near future, now features two tabs: Book and Discover. The Book tab shows you nearby restaurants based on your location and which time slots they have available, as well as a scrollable menu to search by cuisine type. Of course, future reservations and non-local locations can still be searched via this tab as well. The Discover tab makes recommendations based on your dining history, plus groups restaurants by lists, amenities, and occasions.

"Today, everyone wants everything on-demand, and deciding where to dine out is no exception," OpenTable's SVP of product Prasad Gune said in a statement. "We reviewed data from diner reservations and saw a dramatic rise in people looking to dine immediately. Based on this insight, we have redesigned our app experience to cater to this trend and make it fast and intuitive to discover and book the best restaurants for every dining occasion."

For their part, Yelp and Resy (perhaps OpenTable's biggest competitors in the arena of last-minute dining options) have had the ability to see what tables are available nearby for some time. And if a restaurant you were interested in had same-day reservations available, OpenTable would certainly show them to you. But reversing the default search process from restaurant-first to availability-first seems to be a necessary step for the 20-year-old OpenTable to adapt from simply being online to being in the moment.

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