But what info are they sharing?
Restaurants are about to start talking about you, with the help of OpenTable's new "Guest Share" feature. Designed to enable the digital sharing of "guest preferences and notes" across restaurant groups with multiple locations, OpenTable says the feature will only use the info to customers' benefit.
While new, the feature is an extension of OpenTable's guest notes function, which has existed since the service began in, believe it or not, 1998. Restaurants could add notes to a diner's profile in their database, then use them to help staff and servers provide optimal service, OpenTable's Senior Vice President of Marketing Scott Jampol told Food & Wine. This simply extends the notes across multiple restaurants within a group, so if, say, the uptown location of your favorite sushi spot is full, you can head to the downtown knowing they'll already be ready for your shellfish allergy.
In addition to allergy information, OpenTable's Guest Share will include seating and beverage preference, details on the guest such as their occupation or connection to the owners/chefs, and tags like "VIP," which restaurants can apply how they see fit. Which raises the question: could restaurants you've never been to know too much about you before your first visit?
If you've had a bad experience at one location that may not look good on paper (i.e. a rare lower tip), don't worry. Jampol says that OpenTable does not itemize customer spending, or provide details on the tip. Rather, restaurant groups are using the program to enact more detailed loyalty programs, and adjusting service for guests to better meet their recorded taste and health preferences.
For now, it seems, any data a restaurant might hold against you will stay between you and whoever was there that day, and that OpenTable's guest share is strictly in the business of serving you better. Given how rapidly technology advances though, just keep making sure you deserve it.