Need more evidence it’s time to optimize your restaurant’s website for smartphone and tablet users? Restaurant reservation/guest management solution giant OpenTable is now providing mobile websites to its restaurant customers—for free.
Why this move? OpenTable recognizes that an ever-increasing number of its business now comes through mobile channels. The company notes that in the second quarter of this year, 28 percent of its diners booked their reservation via a mobile device. It also points out that while 100 million U.S. adults have smartphones and/or tablets, only 10 percent of restaurants have a mobile-optimized site. OpenTable sees a disconnect between how customers prefer to interact with restaurants and how restaurants are equipped to handle these interactions.
“More than ever diners are seeking information about restaurants and booking reservations on the go, yet the vast majority of restaurant websites are not designed for mobile use,” says OpenTable c.e.o. Matt Roberts. “Our goal is to make it easier for restaurants to reap the benefits from the shift toward mobile by removing friction associated with creating and hosting mobile-friendly sites.”
The company says it will take restaurant owners less than a half-hour to claim their mobile website and optimize its content via do-it-yourself mobile website solution DudaMobile. In addition to being quick and easy to use, this solution is designed to retain “the branding and elegance of the restaurant’s desktop site.”
Is there a catch to this offer? Not if your restaurant is an existing OpenTable customer, you sign up for this offer before Feb. 1, 2013 and you remain an OpenTable customer. Then it’s free for life. After that, new OpenTable restaurant customers will pay around $100 a year to use this service.
OpenTable is sending a strong message here that restaurants should optimize their websites for mobile devices because that’s how their customers want to do business with them today. Its free offer signifies how urgent this move is for OpenTable-equipped restaurants. However, the need for a mobile presence is likely no less critical for other restaurants, whether they take reservations or not.