Monday, February 27, 2012

Online Reservations

In an increasingly fast-paced world, more restaurants are beginning to provide online booking systems. Most of the time, this is convenient for both the customer and the restaurant. The restaurant doesn't have to answer the phone as often, and the customer can check on availability without commitment. Park Kitchen uses Open Table, which not only makes online reservations, but also maintains a database about the customer, when is their birthday or anniversary, or whether they have food allergies.

Some of the world's most famous restaurants have customized booking systems with servers that can accomodate high volume. I recently made a reservation at Noma in Copenhagen, which opened its booking for the month of May at a precise date and time, three months in advance. I later learned that in just two hours, over 30,000 people were competing for a mere 1,500 seats over the entire month. In Chicago, Next launched their season tickets last month, including the coveted El Bulli tribute menu. Co-owner Nick Kokonas said that within the first 10 seconds, they had received 1,500 requests for tickets. When they opened the restaurant, they had decided to sell their tickets like a theater or concert venue, with a similar price structure based on peak demand, and now using similar booking technology. Yet another example of merging industries in a world that spins faster each day.

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