Yesterday Yelp announced that logged in users can now check availability and book a reservation via OpenTable directly on Yelp's website, even without an OpenTable account. A handy extra feature is that if you use the same email address for your Yelp and OpenTable accounts, you'll even "automatically receive credit to your OpenTable account for your reservation." It's pretty impressive and seamless.
Yelp claimed that this integration was based on user feedback, but really it was necessary Yelp and OpenTable to partner and compete against Urbanspoon who just last month announced their RezBook iPad application that allows restaurants to book and manage reservations, as well as a pilot program in Seattle and Los Angeles called Rez that allows diners to book tables (Rez is to go national in 2010).
The deal with Yelp is part of an affiliate program with OpenTable that already includes New York Magazine's Grub Street and MenuPages, Trip Advisor, and Zagat. Those sites just have links to OpenTable that open in new windows, and not the level of integration that Yelp has. Coming soon, we presume?
The old scenario with Yelp was that people went there looking for information, and then had to manually open a new browser window to make a reservation. With this deal, OpenTable wants to make sure you don't need to go anywhere else.