OpenTable Targets Travelers And ‘Near Me Searchers’ With Latest App Redesign

All travel is local — and the Priceline-owned reservations platform recognizes that 'discovery' is the name of the game for food services.

OpenTable’s redesigned app is intended to help locals and visitors make sense of what local eateries have been deemed hot or not for specific kinds of dining experiences.

Among other cosmetic changes, the revamped mobile app, which was released this week for Apple iOS devices (presumably, the Google Android version is soon to follow),  now features a “Discover” tab.

The Discover button is situated at the bottom of the app’s screen, which still opens within the “Search” feature. (Incidentally, the Search tab is now in the middle of the Discover and Profile buttons.)

When a user clicks Discover after entering the OpenTable, they’re greeted by name and by the current time of day.  A location tab is prominently featured at the top. Users can change their location with a single tap that opens to manual search options. The search options also remember the most recent neighborhoods and cuisines the user looked for.

Below the greeting and the location tab, users can scroll down four rows of two columns offering suggestions like “Dinner Tonight,” “Near Me” “Mother’s Day” and “My Favorites.”

By carefully organizing dining experiences within eight distinct boxes, which list the number of restaurant options under their respective headings, OpenTable is aiming to cut down the frustration of “too many choices” that users face from online local guides.

The Discover feature also recognizes the increasing demand for users to immediately find exactly what they want. It reflects what Google calls “micro-moments,” which have helped propel “Near me” searches for things like “romantic dinner for two near me” up 146 percent year-over-year.

Just as Google helps its searchers by auto-completing “near me” in its query box, OpenTable has given that request its own special placement in its Discover tab.

Aside from seeking to capture its the “micro-moments” of its 18 million monthly users, OpenTable is also taking aim at the travel industry.  The San Francisco company, which is was acquired almost two years ago for $2.6 billion by online travel booking provider Priceline, has often crafted marketing programs aimed at reaching travelers, but this is the first time it has sought to appeal directly to users when visiting another locality.

“Whether you’re landing hungry on the tarmac in a new city or planning a last minute date night in your local neighborhood, OpenTable wants to be the dining concierge in your pocket,” said Christa Quarles, OpenTable’s CEO. “Dining has never been more mobile and our new app experience helps diners discover the perfect restaurant to satisfy every occasion, mood and craving whether they’re at home or on the road.”

In terms of furthering OpenTable’s mission “to power great dining experiences,” a company representative added, “We think about this a lot in terms of the role we can play before, during and after dining. Naturally, helping people discover new restaurants and find the perfect restaurant for every occasion or mood is part of this.

“Layer on the reality that half of all reservations on OpenTable are booked via mobile – and that dining and travel are inherently connected – and the vision for our CEO Christa Quarles crystallized around serving as the ‘dining concierge in your pocket,’ the rep continued. “Currently nearly all the picks are algorithmically generated with the exception of Insider Picks, which are curated lists by OpenTable locals across the U.S.”

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.