Photo courtesy of Grub Street
As with Yelp, OpenTable has decided to add new features in light of both the Delta variant’s rise and developments in the ongoing discussion surrounding Covid-19 safety requirements and restrictions. The basis for these new additions, according to the CEO of OpenTable Debby Soo, is that “dining demand in the U.S. is down 13% compared to just one month earlier, with cities like Minneapolis, Seattle and New York showing significant declines. Just as restaurants were starting to rebound from a devastating 2020 – the Delta variant and ever-changing mandates come as another hurdle.” As such, OpenTable “hopes that these new tools make it easier for restaurants to continue to welcome people in and help diners feel safe and informed about dining out,” according to Soo.
1) OpenTable Direct Messaging
This feature will allow diners and restaurants to message each other before and after reservations in order to streamline communication. Customers will be able to send messages about virtually everything – including making requests, asking questions, relaying dietary preferences, modifying or cancelling their reservation, and, now, asking questions about proof of vaccination requirements or the safety measures or policies a restaurant is taking. According to OpenTable, diners will simply need to pull up their reservation and, if the restaurant has enabled this feature, click on the “Send Message” option to begin chatting. The platform has stated that it hopes “direct messaging will empower restaurants to serve up better hospitality by preventing cancellations and no-shows and building stronger connections that keep guests coming back.” As of now, more than 1,500 restaurants on the platform are using said feature; the number will undoubtedly rise as businesses begin making use of the vaccination facet.
2) Updated Safety Precautions
Following New York City’s proof of vaccination requirement, and other cities’ similar proposals, OpenTable has decided to add a feature that allows restaurants to display their Covid-19 vaccine requirements on their page; this will be added as another tag under the platform’s existing “Safety Precautions” feature. According to OpenTable, diners will simply need to click on a restaurant’s profile and, if the restaurant has enabled this feature, a first-time pop-up about safety precautions will appear; from there, diners will be redirected to the details section of their profile containing their “Precautions” once they click on the pop-up.
The platform’s “Safety Precautions” was created after an internal survey found that 72% of diners said they believe that communicating cleaning policies is highly important to feeling safe eating in restaurants again. As such, the platform created this feature so that restaurants could communicate what protocols and procedures they have in place for the safety of diners. The full list of precautions, excluding the addition of the vaccination requirements, is:
- Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Surfaces sanitized between seatings
- Common areas deep cleaned daily
- Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
- Sanitizer or wipes provided for customers
- Contactless payment available
- Sealed or wrapped utensils used
- Physical Distancing
- Limited number of seated diners
- Distancing maintained in common areas
- Extra space between tables
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Waitstaff wear masks
- Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
- Sick staff prohibited in the workplace
- Staff temperature check required
- Diner temperature check required
- Contact tracing information collected
- Proof of vaccination required to dine indoors
OpenTable has also announced that it will be launching a national list of restaurants currently requiring proof of vaccination, which will be updated in real-time.
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