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Facebook has formed a partnership with OpenTable to let users make restaurant reservations from their phones. There are currently 20,000 OpenTable users who won’t have to go through the pains of leaving their Facebook app and opening up the OpenTable one.
As someone who regularly frequents such upper crust establishments as Chipotle and Panera Bread, the ability to reserve my table with the same app that I use to stalk high school crushes could prove invaluable. The main problem is that there are so many other apps out there with the exact same multitasking ability that making a reservation on Facebook is simply out of Vogue.
Yelp has been leading the pack for years on restaurant reviews, and has been trying to branch out to check-ins, recommendations, and food delivery. They most recently partnered with Eat24 and Delivery.com so users can order food without tracking down the restaurant’s site or calling the order in. They said that they plan to open up the ability to book spa days and yoga classes in the coming months, making Yelp a one-stop shop for finding places and making appointments.
The only problem Yelp faces – other than Foursquare biting at its ankles – is the interest that Google has developed in reviews and consumer opinions. Their latest Maps update includes an Explore tab that shows nearby places, price ranges, reviews, and Zagat ratings. Not only can users find discounts with Google Maps, they can also use the map feature (go figure) to help them get there.
Should I use Yelp to schedule my spa day, Facebook to make dinner reservations at the local caviar sampling, and Google Maps to direct me to the nearest croquet field? Is there really a big difference in the product offerings? A restaurant with five star reviews on Yelp will also have high marks on Foursquare, Google and Facebook unless one bad review on a site brings down the whole average. A good restaurant is a good restaurant no matter the review platform.
A review app’s success won’t hang on the ability to look up directions or have food delivered, it will hang on where the audience is. Facebook has billions of users, but if very few of them are writing high quality reviews then it won’t grow as a reliable source. Google Maps is one of the most downloaded apps, but if people only want directions then it will stay a navigation app.
Google and Facebook are strong, established sites that have the power and money to explore options like food delivery and reservations. Facebook’s OpenTable partnership is a small potatoes move that share blog space with their TV Listings integration. It would help Google if people left reviews on its platform, but it’s not a deal breaker. The only business out of the big three that is almost completely reliant on user reviews and ratings is Yelp. For their sake, they should hope that their product reigns supreme.