The Blessing/Curse of OpenTable for Restaurants (and how is an example of how a new system could fix that)

Nonetheless, Pastore believes that a nonmonopolistic reservation system would be better for business owners, since it would cost less. He and I agree that it could also be better for diners since it would encourage competing reservations systems. In the travel business one can see the effect of competition in consumer-facing reservation systems: look at Hipmunk, for example, to see a new spin on airline data visualization and booking.

We see innovation in travel sites not because airline data is open or free--live airfare information comes from a few private sources and is expensive to license--but rather because the revenues to be made from travel bookings are so high that the economics of buying the data work in an entrepreneur's favor. Google, by the way, is attempting to get into this game by buying airline data company ITA.

I'm hoping Grubhub is on its way to finally creating the platform we envisioned with our original Y Combinator application all those years ago. Steve's Sheetz-inspired vision for more efficient food ordering is long overdue. We weren't the guys to do it, but someone will be.

2 responses
In the travel industry's case, the inventory data is monopolized by a few giants who long ago decided to charge others for access to that data - ITA, Sabre, etc.

In the restaurant industry, it seems the inventory data has become monopolized by the likes of OT and they're content with building products around that data and charging everyone who uses them.

It would be worth investigating why the travel industry went one way and OT went the other. Either way, both at their core are monopolizing data, one just happens to be sharing it, albeit at a cost.

BTW, I want royalties! :-)

Nice site, btw. All you needed was a mascot ;)
Thanks for the note. I'm excited to see what change is coming to restaurants.