Challenging the reservation King

A wave of competition goes after OpenTable’s throne

Claim to fame : Very low cost, cloud-based option.

Cost: $60 per restaurant per month.

Notes: Wait list system can notify customer via text message or email when the table is ready. A mobile app for managers is coming soon.

Jeffrey Gates gets a $12,000 monthly bill from Open-Table for accepting online reservations for the seven Boston-area restaurants in the Aquitaine Group. That kind of bill is what has left him and some other restaurateurs looking for alternatives. "The issue with OpenTable is not a failure on their part to get the job done, it is the cost of the product," says Gates.

OpenTable has 25,000 restaurant clients and seats 9 million customers per month. It won't be easy to make a dent in those kind of numbers, but a fresh group of competitors is willing to give it a try. One of those is UReserv, a cloud-based reservation system cofounded by Gates in an effort to take control of interactions with customers who reserve directly through his restaurants' websites. "We've managed to take back about $300 a month for each restaurant. It's a considerable savings for us," he says.

UReserv isn't the only up-and-coming Open- Table alternative. It has been joined by notable launches like CityEats from the Food Network and Rezbook from Urbanspoon. As more competitors join in, restaurants will have to weigh the cost savings against the value of OpenTable's established ability to attract customers through its website and app.

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