Optimistically Cautious

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Before heading to Vancouver, as I mentioned in my previous post, I made sure to make a reservation at Feenie's for brunch. The restaurant's website had the option to connect to an external portal called Open Table. I had seen the name before, but hadn't used the site before this instance. I figured it was worth a shot.

Signing up with for a free account was straightforward, as was subsequently searching up the availability of seats. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to secure my desired table for 5 for the time period (including two hours earlier and later) that I had in mind. Though my initial thought was to split up our dining crew, I figured as a last shot, I'd just call Feenie's directly. And it worked - table for 5, 11am.

So why use Open Table at all? It turns out they offer a Dining Rewards Program - standard reservations garner 100 points, and the redemption chart for Canadian members is as follows:
  • Redeem 2,000 points and get a $26 OpenTable Dining Cheque
  • Redeem 5,000 points and get a $65 OpenTable Dining Cheque
  • Redeem 10,000 points and get a $130 OpenTable Dining Cheque
Not bad, I suppose, but even the first level of redemption requires 20 outings at participating restaurants. This would be difficult for the local diner, as there are only 16 places that currently utilize this service. It might be quite easy for those who dine out for business or travel often, but likely not so for casual diners. Moreover, the restaurants on the list are fairly high-end, so the Dining Cheque presumably wouldn't be economical or worth the initial expense for this latter group.

Based on my Feenie's experience, I'd be hesitant to use the service on the basis that receiving an e-mail confirmation isn't as reassuring as speaking to a live person on the phone, as well as knowing that restaurant personnel can fudge seating where software can't. I'd be willing to try Open Table for kicks, but I wouldn't depend upon it for my reservation needs.

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