News about Urbanspoon's budding online reservation system came out a few weeks back, but the Seattle Times delves into the whole business today, trying to explain how Urbanspoon will attempt to put a dent in OpenTable's current online resy monopoly and its $55.8 million worth of sales last year. Urbanspoon's new platform—called "Rez"—is limited to Seattle at this point in time, but the eventual plan is to team up with Citysearch and then "use its sales force to bring Rez to new markets."
The key question, of course, is how Urbanspoon can expect to compete with the OpenTable juggernaut, and the answer is money. It's no secret that OpenTable charges restaurants for a litany of items—there's a sign-up fee, plus charges for each reservation made—so Urbanspoon is hoping to appeal to restaurants' pocketbooks
Eventually Urbanspoon plans to charge a commission on seats filled, similar to Open Table but at a lower price.Another big differentiation with the Urbanspoon model that may appeal to restaurants who dislike online reservation system because it often leads to a high percentage of no-shows is that Urbanspoon only offers same-day reservations.
"The key differentiation is going to be, 'It costs you nothing when we send you business,' " [Urbanspoon co-founder Ethan] Lowry said. "Our goal is to be so outrageously cheap no restaurant would say no."
· Urbanspoon shaking it up, entering reservation business [Seattle Times]