Attempting to score a reservation at New York City’s most popular restaurants can sometimes feel like playing the lottery. OpenTable has taken notice of diners’ frustrations with the status quo (six months or more to guarantee a reservation at Per Se, for instance), and is rolling out premium pricing to guarantee seats at some of New York City’s most buzzed-about dining spots.Premium Reservation members can pay upwards of $50 to $100 (depending on a restaurant’s popularity and whether or not it’s a Saturday night) to score a last-minute reservation.
Many people reacting to the news are comparing OpenTable’s new surge pricing to Uber’s policies, where the cost is jacked up during premium times like Halloween night and after midnight on New Year’s.
Right now, the new OpenTable feature is in beta mode and is only available to iPhone owners with Apple Pay capabilities in the New York City metropolitan area. OpenTable’s global product marketing director, Vannie Shu, explained in a blog post that the company would not be getting a cut of reservation fees: instead, fees would go directly to the restaurant.
“When research revealed that many OpenTable diners are willing to pay for last-minute, prime-time reservations at popular restaurants, we launched into exploration,” Shu wrote. “We’re excited to see whether OpenTable’s Premium Reservations can help you grow revenue and delight valuable guests seamlessly. As the leader in restaurant reservations, our diner demand and data is unmatched, so we believe we can capture more value for prime-time tables.”