At OpenTable, we’ve always prided ourselves on leading the industry when it comes to table management. Longtime restaurant partners know we changed the game when we introduced Flex in 2010, helping operators book their dining rooms solid. Since launching GuestCenter, we’ve added new features along the way to help restaurants streamline their service, like the ability to view and adjust your availability easily, maximizing each shift.
Now, we’ve entered a new era of dining room mastery. With new, flexible control features in GuestCenter, you’ve got the tools you need to control your turns, optimize seating, and create and automate your ideal flow – so your restaurant can run like the inside of your brain, with or without you there.
“We’ve really enjoyed testing and experimenting with OpenTable’s new controls,” said Jonás J. Millán, Restaurateur and Owner of the Juvia Group. “The turn controls keeps moving, adjusting and adapting to how reservations come in. The feature gives you the power to control and increase your capacity in a controlled environment without jeopardizing the flow of the dining room.”
Most restaurants want to maximize bookings by offering more availability all of the time – that’s why Flex inventory is so successful. But constant availability isn’t the best fit for every operation. Some restaurants need to control the flow of tables according to their service style, or a specific experience they want to give guests. Other restaurants have such high demand that they can restrict booking times to only periods that maximize turns – and have no trouble selling out.
The amount of time that a restaurant expects a table to be occupied can vary from 45 minutes to four hours, making it difficult for floor managers to optimize their seating. With these new controls, you can maximize your seatings, control the flow of your dining room, and adapt to the unpredictable, real world of running your house. Assistive prompts help you manage your staff so the house runs exactly the way you want it to. Here are all the ways our new features put you in control to maximize, customize, and pace the flow of your restaurant.
“Controlling the pace of the dining room – determining how often tables turn over and how to fill those tables quickly – has significant financial impact for our restaurant partners,” said Jon Morin, OpenTable’s VP of Product Management. “We’ve designed two new turn and flow control features that react to incoming reservations in real time and adapt to hit operating goals within our GuestCenter platform. In fact, we’ve seen that over 70% of the top cover driving restaurants use these types of controls to run and grow their business.”
Pack the House
Busy restaurants need smarter and more flexible control over their books. Turn controls are the best way to pack your house, drive up revenue, and never waste a turn. You can define a minimum number of times a table will turn over by party size or table, and our system will work in the background by only offering bookings that help you achieve your goals. Turn controls are:
Dynamic. For one shift or every shift, you can set the minimum number of turns you want to achieve, by party or table size.
Automated. You can set your controls to expire 12, 24, or 48 hours before the start of the shift. Availability updates automatically as reservations are booked (or in cases where you break your own rules.)
“It worked for us,” says Jonás of the new features. “I could see how tables were flowing, and if there were empty spaces – and I said, man, if I could do this over the weekdays and get more covers, let’s give it a try.”
Go With the Flow
Every restaurateur wants a dining room full of tables, but you don’t want them all seated at the same time. Flow controls allow you to keep hospitality on lock, run a butter-smooth service, and keep your team and guests happy. You can control the pace and flow of your shift according to your service style and staffing levels, and always keep your staff out of the weeds. This frees up time to focus on your guests, while the features make sure your book stays on track. Flow controls are:
Customizable. Since no two services are alike, you can approach the flow of service differently – by the day of the week, or the time of day. Control the number of covers and parties that can be booked in 15-minute increments, and adjust cover and party pacing by time period.
Specific. Manage the party size mix of your reservations and set a cap to the number of covers that can book at any given time.
“It helps us increase our capacity in a controlled way,” Jonás says. “That weekend we did 30 or 40 covers per night [above our average], which is a lot more. But the biggest thing – the flow of the covers that came was very good.”