OpenTable wants to give each of its thousands of restaurant partners their own mobile-friendly website — on the house.
The popular online reservation platform launched a free service on Tuesday in partnership with DudaMobile, a DIY mobile website builder, to help restaurants foot the cost of creating websites tailored for smartphones and tablets. The offer is geared towards small and medium-sized establishments who may not have the resources or the know-how to build their own mobile websites.
“We want to eliminate the friction of making this move for our restaurant customers so they can provide better hospitality for their diners,” Matthew Roberts, CEO of OpenTable, told Mashable. At the moment, Roberts says that customers visiting the websites of many of these restaurants from their mobile devices end up seeing a blank page because there is flash, or else a full desktop page because it hasn’t been formatted for mobile. Either way, it can be a turn off for consumers interested in doing business with the restaurant.
OpenTable currently has 25,000 restaurant partners worldwide, each of which pay a subscription fee of $199 a month to use OpenTable’s software. Now, any of these businesses in the U.S., Canada and UK will be able to sign up to have a mobile website built for no additional cost. The only condition is that the business must sign up to claim its website before February 1, 2013.
OpenTable is billing the move as an effort both to help restaurants capitalize on mobile and to improve the consumer’s experience when booking online. The latter may be more significant to OpenTable’s own business. As Roberts points out, booking a reservation online is still far less popular in North America than booking a reservation with a phone. Roberts hopes that this promotion will make it easier for consumers to book online from their mobile devices, which in turn will give a nice boost to the overall online reservations market.
“We’re really, as a business, in a transition from phone reservations to online reservations,” Roberts said. “So anything we can do… to facilitate making a reservation online rather than with a phone is a positive.”