Dive Brief:

  • Online restaurant reservation platform OpenTable has opened its first-ever brick-and-mortar restaurant. According to Food & Wine, the Miami-based restaurant, called Layla, is located in Kayak Miami Beach, the first hotel from Kayak, OpenTable’s sister company at Booking Holdings.
  • The restaurant will be used as a design innovation lab, according to the publication, allowing OpenTable to use consumers’ data to develop new technology that could personalize diner experiences at the concept. 
  • Eventually, those technologies will roll out to restaurants across the OpenTable platform. There are nearly 60,000 restaurants using OpenTable’s platform, according to the company.  

Dive Insight:

OpenTable has dabbled in exclusivity before. Last year, it launched Premium Access, a loyalty benefit for frequent customers that gives American diners access to difficult-to-book eateries during peak dining times. An internal company survey showed that 68% of OpenTable’s diners wanted greater ability to reserve such spots.

That’s not the only time OpenTable has leveraged its data to add new features and create more personalized offerings, however. In 2018, the company rolled out a feature allowing diners to choose where they can sit at a restaurant, an effort to give them more control over their experience.

In 2019, then-CEO Steve Hafner told the The Wall Street Journal that OpenTable’s partner restaurants don’t own their data and moved to update its client agreement to protect diner privacy. The move sparked a debate over whether or not OpenTable was attempting to lock out rival SevenRooms and shone a light on the debate over who should own customer data — the restaurant or the technology platforms that support them.

Customer data has become increasingly important, particularly as those consumers expect more personalized experiences in an Amazon-dominated world and as third-party companies are starting to compete for customers using that data. DoorDash, for example, opened its first physical location in late 2020 using insights from its restaurant consumers. Delivery companies, including Grubhub, have also started opening their own virtual concepts in markets with data to support such concepts.

OpenTable’s partnership with Kayak Miami Beach is also worth noting. OpenTable’s Layla could benefit from Kayak’s vast search engine, which generates billions of queries, according to the company. Kayak also noted in a release it will explore additional locations beyond Miami Beach, so OpenTable could potentially do the same with its brick-and-mortar presence.