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The Top 3 Things You Need to Know from NRA 2016

3 Lessons from the 2016 NRA Show That Can Change Your Business

The OpenTable team just got back from Chicago for the 2016 National Restaurant Association Show, the largest annual gathering of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industries. When we weren’t hanging out in our booth , chatting with OpenTable fans and customers, or drinking pour-over coffee by Chicago locals Bow Truss Coffee Roasters, we were attending one of the many education sessions that NRA offers over the course of the four-day show.

We were able to get a bird’s-eye view of the current state of the restaurant economy, thanks to the extensive research conducted by the National Restaurant Association over the past year. Some topline stats:

  1. Americans are projected to spend about $783 billion on dining out in 2016.
  2. 14.4 million Americans work in restaurants — one in every 10 Americans.
  3. The top two challenges restaurants are currently facing are labor cost (including minimum wage hikes) and recruiting talent.
  4. Over the past year, there has been a 4.9% increase in table-service restaurant openings.
  5. 45% of Americans are not eating at restaurants as often as they would like. There is huge opportunity for restaurants to take advantage of this desire.

Out of the many sessions we attended, there were a few in particular that gave valuable insight to the current state of the restaurant industry. Here are the highlights.Read more

5 Ways Technology Can Enhance (Not Replace) Hospitality

5 Ways Technology Can Enhance (Not Replace) Hospitality

Hospitality is about making people feel welcome and valued. What role should technology play in a human-centric industry that focuses on creating memorable experiences?

At last week’s NRA Show in Chicago, OpenTable’s CEO Christa Quarles participated in a fireside chat and panel with luminaries in the restaurant industry. Moderated by NRA Chief Innovation Officer Phil Kafarakis, the panel featured Jennifer Bell of Lettuce Entertain You; Kevin Boehm of Boka Restaurant Group; Lauren Hobbs of Union Square Hospitality Group; and Tim Kirkland of Renegade Hospitality.

Here, we share a few insights we gleaned from the conversation on how restaurants can use technology to enhance (not seek to replace) the hospitality they provide.… Read more

How Chicago’s Cherry Circle Room Fills the House with Bar Reservations

How Chicago's Cherry Circle Room Fills the House with Bar Reservations

This week the OpenTable team announced our Table Categories pilot in Chicago, which allows guests to book seats in the bar area at participating restaurants. The goal: help restaurants expand their reservation availability and seating options for diners and, ultimately, increase their revenue. 

So, how is it going? To learn how restaurants are using the feature, we talked to Eric Kirkenmeier, General Manager at the Cherry Circle Room in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. The restaurant recently won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design, thanks in no small part to its iconic 28-seat bar that spans the entire length of the restaurant.

Here, Eric tells us all about taking reservations in the bar, delighting guests, and how he’s using his bar to raise cover counts. … Read more

Best Seat in the House: Chicago Diners Can Now Book the Bar through OpenTable

Best Seat in the House: Chicago Diners Can Now Book the Bar through OpenTable

OpenTable’s product and engineering teams are constantly testing new features that will help restaurants run and grow their business. Recently, we launched a pilot in Chicago allowing guests to book the bar — meaning restaurants can expand their reservation availability and seating options for diners.

“We estimate that non-standard seating options like bar, communal tables, and high-tops make up 12 to 15 percent of restaurant inventory in the U.S.,” says Eli Chait, Director of Product at OpenTable. “These seats are typically empty or highly coveted, as some diners actually prefer a seat in the center of the action.”

Best Seat in the House: Chicago Diners Can Now Book the Bar through OpenTable

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