How OpenTable keeps guests coming back with loyalty points

It’s no secret that people are crazy about loyalty programs. Racking up points in exchange for rewards becomes a game for consumers, and research shows it increases customer engagement

Business Wire reports that people who earn coupons experience a spike in the feel-good brain chemical oxytocin. They simply enjoy a higher level of happiness compared to people without coupons. And by choosing to offer Bonus Points on OpenTable, restaurants can leverage this insight to help create delightful experiences for guests.

OpenTable points, by the numbers

OpenTable data paints a clear picture of diners who love their points. More than 50% of the people on the network participate in the program. Almost 321 million loyalty points are redeemed every month.

Loyalty programs help bring guests back to a restaurant with attractive incentives, such as discounts on meals, travel, and more. It’s a boon for restaurants, which get a boost to their bottom line from returning guests without investing in marketing. The program has become even more appealing recently with expanded options for diners to use their points. 

In addition to turning occasional or first-time diners into brand loyal regulars, points can also help bring new guests through the door. According to, 80% of people are more inclined to take a risk on a first-time purchase if they don’t have to pay full price. And 91% of them are likely to come back another time if they believe the goods were of sufficient value. 

Offering diners the opportunity to earn points when they make reservations is an effortless way for restaurants to start using the psychology of loyalty programs to draw more guests.

Here’s how it works

If you’re not familiar with OpenTable’s loyalty program, here’s a primer. Diners earn points by making (and keeping) reservations and experiences. A standard reservation is worth 100 points, but restaurants can offer 1,000 points at their discretion. This is a good strategy for filling tables during slower days of the week or less popular time slots. The opportunity to 10X their points may also influence a rewards-motivated diner to choose one restaurant over another.

People now enjoy more flexibility when it comes to redeeming their points. When they’ve earned 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 points, they can trade them in for $15, $37, and $75 off takeout orders and experience bookings, using the iOS app. 

Other ways they can “spend” their points include restaurant and travel discounts, magazine subscriptions, and gift cards. Philanthropic diners can choose to exchange their points for a donation to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit working to end childhood food insecurity. 

Restaurants benefit, too

Points get diners some pretty great perks, but the points program is helpful for restaurants as well. For one thing, these rewards increase diner loyalty and can turn unengaged guests into regulars

Now that diners are able to redeem points for discounts on their takeout orders and experiences, it’s a good time to offer those Bonus Points for reservations. Doing so helps your most engaged customers earn points, which translates into money they can spend directly at your restaurant.

It’s a unique opportunity to participate in a popular customer loyalty program without investing money, effort, or time into creating and promoting your own program. When you make Bonus Points available, your offerings get in front of more eyes on OpenTable, increasing your exposure and raising awareness about what you do.

Earning a cache of Bonus Points may be just the nudge some people need to try something different. For example, if a diner usually visits the restaurant in person, perhaps they’ll use their points to try takeout or book an experience, especially when it’s easy to do so. It’s a frictionless process for both the diner and the restaurant. Diners redeem their points for discounts on takeout and experiences with the click of a button. Restaurants won’t notice the deduction in Stripe upon booking or refund.

Loyalty points are a major win-win for all parties involved. Watching their point total grow is fun for diners, and they enjoy trading them in for goodies when they reach the relevant milestones. And those positive feelings extend to the restaurants that helped them accrue their points in the first place, deepening diner loyalty and boosting business at the same time.