Online reservations are quite the battlefield these days, as various companies attempt to make inroads into the dominance of OpenTable (which is itself trying to maintain a foothold via acquisitions and expanding into mobile payments). SF-based Yelp got into the game by acquiring reservation startup SeatMe last year, and the resulting team-up they announced today is pretty big: unlike OpenTable, which charges restaurants for participation, Yelp Reservations will allow any business with a Yelp page to book online reservations for free.
The Yelp Reservations system is designed to work in tandem with SeatMe (which offers more robust functionality in exchange for its $99/month charge), bringing restaurants into the fold that "might not be big or busy enough yet" to need the full SeatMe package. The question is whether restaurateurs, most of whom openly despise Yelp's often unreliable consumer reviews, will take the bait. That may be why OpenTable stock dipped 4% after the announcement, but Yelp's remained flat. Either way, the challenges aren't ending anytime soon: Apple, TripAdvisor, and Google are all getting into the restaurant reservations game in one way or another.
· Yelp Launches a Free Online Reservation System [~ EN ~]
· Yelp Reservations: New Free Tool for Businesses [Yelp Blog]
· Watch More Bay Area Chefs Read Bad Yelp Reviews Aloud [~ ESF ~]