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OpenTable Employee Caught Booking Hundreds Of False Reservations On Competitor’s Site

An OpenTable employee was recently caught making hundreds of fraudulent bookings through a competitor in an attempt to discredit them. In doing so, they may have uncovered a deeper problem about online reservation software.

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The unnamed employee had created multiple e-mail accounts to set up the false reservations through Reserve, one of OpenTable’s rivals. This resulted in hundreds of no-shows in at least 45 restaurants across the Chicago area, causing them to lose money as a result. According to Eater Chicago, this was all done in an attempt to discredit Reserve and get restaurants to move to OpenTable

The employee’s biggest move came on Valentine’s Day, a major revenue day for restaurants. It was then that Reserve software engineers noticed a spike in potentially fraudulent bookings and figured out what was going on. OpenTable then commenced their own investigation into the matter, determined the employee was acting alone, and terminated them.

OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles has since issued a public apology about what occurred. Still, the events reveal a shocking insight as to what these reservation platforms could potentially be used for. Restaurants can exploit their rivals and damage businesses by doing the same thing this employee did. As a result, their competitors would lose revenue due to empty seats, potentially even being forced to close as a result.

And what’s not to say that another OpenTable employee could do the same thing? Or somebody who works for one of their rivals? OpenTable says that their staffer acted alone, but they could have easily been motivated to do so by incentive (or a hidden directive). A culture where company staff are pressured to secure new clients regularly could influence them to perform such deeds. That’s what just happened at Wells Fargo last year, where bankers set up several false accounts under their clients’ names to meet quota demands from their bosses.

What this now former OpenTable employee did opens up a can of worms for online reservation websites and their users, who now know of a key exploit that can hurt their competitors. The big question that arises out of this scandal isn’t if somebody will pull a stunt like this again, it’s when.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Priceline to Buy OpenTable for $2.6 Billion, Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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With companies snatching each other up in hopes of conquering the hospitality industry, the trend continues with Priceline’s acquisition of OpenTable for $2.6 billion in cash. This marks the travel booking site’s first venture into the restaurant reservations business, roping it into its collection of other brands including Booking.com and Kayak.

Here’s everything you need to keep up to speed about this latest move in the growing reservation wars.

The fine print on the deal:

Priceline will offer $103 a share for OpenTable, 46 percent premium to Thursday’s closing price.

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What OpenTable is bringing to the, er, table:

OpenTable seats an average of 15 million patrons a month over 31,000 restaurants. In 2013, the company brought in a revenue of $190 million. Since it was founded in 1998, OpenTable claims to have seated more than  530 million diners. Recently, OpenTable moved into the mobile apps space, enabling patrons to pay for meals via their phones, sans wallet.

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What Priceline made in 2013:

Priceline — which also owns Booking.com and Kayak — books an average of over 1 million guests a night over 480,000 properties across 200 countries. In 2013, the company brought in a revenue of $6.79 billion.

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Priceline has had it’s eye on OpenTable for a while now:

According to the NYT, OpenTable “had long been of interest” to Priceline.

Priceline’s CEO, Darren Huston, said in a statement:

OpenTable is a great match for The Priceline Group. They provide us with a natural extension into restaurant marketing services and a wonderful and highly-valued booking experience for our global customers… We look forward to helping the OpenTable team accelerate their global expansion, increase the value offered to their restaurant partners, and enhance the end-to-end experience for our collective customers across desktop and mobile devices.

If that was #TLDR, basically Priceline wants to dominate the hospitality game, starting with travel and restaurant reservations.

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What this all means for the next time you book a flight:

The Priceline x OpenTable deal will most likely allow travelers to not only book their flight, rental car and hotel, but also make reservations at restaurants in the area via one all-encompassing platform. All through your phone of course. Welcome to the new age of hospitality.

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Technology

OpenTable Now Alerts You When an Impossible Reservation Opens

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It’s a foodie dream come true: OpenTable has added tailored “Hot Tables” reservations to its online booking site. The new reservation alerts are now available for New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles and let you know when a table for hard-to-get restaurants suddenly free up.  Users can sign up for text message notifications for seats at spots like French Laundry in Napa or Gramercy Tavern in New York.

The program is still being tested, but interested diners can request to sign up here.  However, don’t go rushing for an invitation quite yet, as the app might actually increase the demand for cancelled tables. This has left some wondering if this will make it even harder to get a spot at the nation’s most exclusive eateries.

The other cool feature is a feed of available reservations on the website.  So even if your dream choice isn’t available, you’re still in a good place to find something awesome.

Are you ready to sign up?

PicThx OpenTable

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Products

OpenTable’s New Mobile Site Seats its 15th Millionth Diner via Mobile

OpenTable is bringing more convenience to on-the-go restaurant customers through its newly redesigned mobile website in a response to an increase in diners using mobile devices websites and apps. The free service provides diners with free online reservations and guest management systems for restaurants.

This past Wednesday the company announced it has seated more than 15 million diners through its mobile website and apps since its launch in 2008. That represents $600 million in revenue for the company’s restaurant customers and accounts for more than 1 million diners seated per month.

OpenTable is a handy tool that promotes deals in your area and also lets you do a refine search for restaurants by neighborhood, reviews, cuisine, price points, photos, menu, parking information. Trusted by 20,000 restaurants and also services Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and United Kingdom, it’s a gotta have app for a foodie’s phone.