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Urbanspoon Challenges OpenTable With RezBook iPad App

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Urbanspoon announced its new computerized reservation system as iPad app, Urbanspoon RezBook, which allows restaurants to book and manage reservations, even on their own websites (Urbanspoon already runs a popular website and iPhone app for restaurant listings and recommendations). Already in use in 170 restaurants in cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, RezBook is new competition for OpenTable's reservation management system, with 13,000 restaurants nationwide.

Urbanspoon is offering competition on two fronts: pricing and utility/design.

According to the Wall Street Journal, currently OpenTable charges a $600-700 start-up fee and $270 per month on average, plus $1 per head for OpenTable reservations; and then 25 cents per head for reservations via restaurant's own website. Urbanspoon is looking to shake things up a bit, with the only startup cost being an iPad (the app itself is free), and then a $99 monthly fee, plus $1 per head for reservations made through Urbanspoon, with no charge for reservations made through the website. That's pretty aggressive pricing, a difference that will be very tempting for restaurateurs.

Also, there's no need for custom hardware like OpenTable's: Instead, restaurants would just purchase an off-the-shelf iPad.

The other front is design: Speaking to a few restaurant employees this morning, they were not fans of OpenTable, calling it "clunky" and "hard to use," even requiring some training to learn how to use it. Some even hate it. UrbanSpoon's Rezbook, however, seeks to change that, making an easy-to use application with every employee in mind: because it's on an iPad, it's "mobile" so that any staff member can take reservations wherever they are, whether they're standing behind the bar or standing at a host station. And you can see from screenshots above, it looks dead-simple to use.

· Urbanspoon Squares Off Against OpenTable [NYT]
· More Ways to Snag That Restaurant Table [WSJ]