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The OpenTable Marketing Engine: How Diners Find Your Restaurant

April 3, 2018

OpenTable  /  Scott Jampol  /  April 3, 2018

Running a restaurant is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging, passion-driven things you can do—and then there’s marketing one. Keeping your business thriving, and serving up hospitality to each and every guest, night after night, is an enormous undertaking, so the unfortunate reality is that many restaurateurs don’t have the time or resources to market their restaurants effectively. Many restaurateurs also believe that diners begin their search with their restaurant in mind (having heard about it from a friend or family member, on Eater, or through a local list.) Next step is for them to choose to book and arrive on your doorstep. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not. While this path of discovery is certainly one way diners find and book your restaurant, it really isn’t the most common way. Organic search for your website is one of many important marketing channels—and that’s where we come in.

As the leader of our marketing team here at OpenTable, I consistently get asked: “How exactly are you marketing my restaurant?” and “Where do OpenTable diners come from?” — and “How many diners come from search engines?”

Think of OpenTable as your ultimate marketing engine. With more than 30 employees focused on marketing to diners, we have built highly optimized, online marketing programs to find and encourage diners to visit your restaurants. Beginning with our website and mobile apps, and on down to paid ads, we have fine-tuned and tailored our strategies to identify, market to, and help bring you the diners who are most likely to be your future guests.

In order to answer these important questions, let’s take a look at the data. Below is a snapshot of the marketing channels that drove all OpenTable diners seated at U.S. restaurants through OpenTable in 2017.  


As the data demonstrates, half of our diners come directly to and our mobile apps. If your restaurant does not appear on our platforms, you may be missing out on capturing that audience. About a quarter of guests come directly from your websites, and restaurant brand equity is an important search driver (as alluded to above. ) The remaining nearly 25% are driven exclusively by our marketing engine.

Our goal is to deliver you as many highly valuable diners as possible at the lowest cost possible.  No other marketing channel has the ability to deliver your restaurant seated diners at a lower cost at scale.

So, who are these diners and would you have gotten them anyway? Over 68% of diners we seated at restaurants last year were first-time diners to that restaurant via OpenTable. More than 33% of diners were from outside the metro area where the restaurant is located, which gives you access to hard-to-reach travelers.

We’ve taken a deep dive into the inner-workings of each marketing channel available to you and your business, in order to help you take a closer look at how we bring you guests. See the stats and request your personalized data package to learn more about where your diners are coming from and how we get you there.


Scott Jampol is the SVP of Marketing at OpenTable. Follow him @sjampol