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How OpenTable Restaurants can Optimize SMS and MMS Marketing

Updated: Jan 20

OpenTable released 2023's biggest dining trends on Nov. 15, 2023 that reinforce that people are finding creative ways to go out as much as possible.

Wooden table at restaurant with table tent that reads reserved at three dining sets

OpenTable's 2023 data (collected Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2023), compared to 2022, reveals shifts in diner behaviors and cravings. Highlights include:

  • Dining held steady, with vigor for special occasions: While year-round dining remained flat YoY (-1%)2, diners showed renewed interest in dining on special occasions – Valentine's Day and Mother's Day respectively grew 9% and 6% YoY3, and diner spend for these holidays was up 15% vs. non-holidays this year4 – a positive signal of what to expect for the busy holiday season.

  • Solo dining is on the rise: With an increase of 4% YoY, it was the largest increase of any party size. Thursday and Friday were the most popular days.2

  • This year, West African, African and Lebanese were among the top trending cuisines: Each saw double digit dining increases, respectively up 72%, 23% and 18% YoY.2

  • Menu items with East Asian ties were increasingly talked about by diners: Diner reviews saw increased mentions of crispy rice (27%), omakase (17%), yuzu (17%), lychee (9%), miso (4%), ramen (4%) and kimchi (2%).5

  • Cocktails were on diners' minds, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic: Diner reviews also revealed increased mentions of mocktail (48%) and non-alcoholic (8%), likely due to a rise of sober and sober-curious lifestyles. In addition, speakeasy saw gains (25%), as well as cocktails made popular on social media: espresso martini (39%), Aperol spritz (27%) and negroni (4%).5

Group of friends enjoying each others company and drinking wine

An Age Texting + OpenTable integration allows you to:

  1. Send automated customer surveys to capture feedback and increase your online reviews.

  2. Segment customers based on total spend, party size, and reservation type (call-in, walk-in, or online).

  3. Grow your subscriber list.


Are you taking advantage of your OpenTable data to effectively reach customers?

Are you checking in on customers who have not visited you for several months and letting them know about new menu items?

Have you contacted customers recently who made reservations. Send a thank you text showing your gratitude for choosing your restaurant for their business meeting or event.

What about regular happy hour visitors? Entice them to invite more guests with an offer of a free appetizer or beverage.

Drive traffic on slower days and evenings with a BOGO offer or a text with an animation that features several new menu items.

Give your loyal customers who tend to spend more with you an exclusive invite to “taste test” some of your seasonal menu items before you release the menu to the public.

Are you regularly following up with customers and requesting their feedback? While email may be part of your marketing and communication efforts, it is important to know that the average email open rate for restaurants is only 18.5%1 while SMS averages a 98% open rate2.

If you are already using SMS marketing—great! You know the value of texting your customers. Find out how our SMS platform compares to the service you use now.

Considering starting a text marketing program?

Age Texting offers a variety of features and benefits for restaurant SMS marketing. Complement an OpenTable integration through our multiple opt-in methods.


How to Use Your Existing OpenTable Customer Data

Consider sending an introductory text message to customers who have booked a reservation through OpenTable within the last 6-12 months.

You may have several years worth of data, but we do not recommend sending a text to your entire list. Make sure you share with them that their phone number was used when booking a reservation to dine at your restaurant, and ask if you may send them periodic text messages about exciting news and promotions at your restaurant. At that point, they must opt in to receive any further messages from you. You may want to hold a giveaway for a gift card exclusively for your text subscribers to entice them to opt in.


How to Take Advantage of an OpenTable Integration

Create a disclaimer that sends a text message from your Age Texting account to the customer who booked a reservation inviting them to receive periodic text messages about promotions and new menu items along with the required opt-out verbiage (Reply STOP to opt out). This disclaimer is automatically sent to new subscribers who book an online reservation with OpenTable, allowing you to consistently grow your list.

Implement an automated customer survey strategy that sends a text message to customers 1-2 days after they have dined with you that invites them to respond with their rating on their experience. The 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 rating triggers an autoresponder to another step to either contact you directly with concerns or to leave a Google review.

To see the automated review requester in action, watch the video below.

SMS and MMS Marketing Strategies for Your Restaurant

One of the best ways to use MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants is for sharing promotions to a large group of customers with one campaign. One message can reach thousands of customers.

  • Opening a New Restaurant? Create buzz about a your new restaurant before you open your doors. Entice consumers to subscribe to your texts so they are the first to know about your grand opening. Consider offering a special discount for those first text subscribers.

  • New Menu Items? Give text subscribers an exclusive sneak peek at your seasonal menu. Be sure to include high-quality photos of your tantalizing entrees and desserts.

  • Special Deals? You don't need to promote discounts in every campaign, but a a discount every now and then encourage return customers and even new ones that are on your text list but perhaps have not dined with you or ordered from you for several months.

  • Live Entertainment? If your restaurant offers life entertainment, text marketing can be the perfect way to announce who will be performing on a particular evening and to send a timely reminder as well.

  • Downtime Specials? Both SMS and MMS campaigns can help restaurants increase traffic during slower hours by offering exclusive promotions during those off-peak hours. For example, consider offering discounted appetizers on a rotating basis between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Delivery Services? If your restaurant offers online ordering for takeout and delivery, be sure to text special discounts during particular delivery times. For example, if you’re located in a busy business district, you may offer free delivery over the lunch hour so workers do not need to leave the office during heavy traffic timeframe.

  • Catering Services? Restaurants who provide catering services may want to use SMS or MMS marketing to promote additional business. Include high-quality photos and animations to feature catering menu or previously catered events. Also consider adding a customer testimonial. Use keywords to segment subscribers who are event planners. Our two-way texting is a great yet personable way to communicate with event planners.

  • Holiday Meal Pre-orders? An increasing number of restaurants are offering delicious take-out meals for the holidays. Promote these to your customers and send reminders as the order deadline approaches. Send text notifications to those who ordered with pick-up reminders. Also, consider texting those customers tips for reheating the food and using any leftovers.

METHODOLOGY: Featuring an updated methodology using OpenTable diner reviews and new metrics, the list uncovers some of the most in-demand restaurants by OpenTable diners this year.1


1 Top 100 Restaurants for 2023 Methodology: OpenTable's Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2023 list is generated from over 12 million verified OpenTable diner reviews and dining metrics from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023. Restaurants with a minimum threshold of diner reviews were considered and evaluated by a compilation of unique data points, including diner ratings, the percentage of five star reviews, the number of alerts set, the percentage of reservations made in advance and direct searches. Metrics were weighted to comprise an overall score, used to rank the list. The resulting list appears A-Z, not in ranked order.

2 OpenTable Data Methodology: OpenTable looked at the number of seated diners from online, phone, and walk-in reservations from January 1 – September 30, 2023 and compared it to the same range in 2022, including restaurants that were on the platform in both of these periods. Cuisines reflected had a minimum of 30k diners in 2022, cuisine category is self-determined by restaurants.

3 OpenTable Data Methodology: OpenTable looked at the number of seated diners from online, phone and walk-in reservations on Valentine's Day 2023 and compared it against Valentine's Day 2022 (respectively February 14); along with the number of seated diners for Mother's Day 2023 (May 14), compared against Mother's Day 2022 (May 8), looking at restaurants that were on the platform in each of these periods.

4 OpenTable Data Methodology: OpenTable looked at per person average spend for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day vs. non-holidays (all other dates) from January 1 – September 30, 2023.

5 OpenTable Data Methodology: OpenTable analyzed more than 200 keywords and phrases across more than 2.5M text restaurant reviews from January 1 – September 30, 2023 and compared it to the same date range in 2022. Keywords reflected were featured in the top 50% by number of mentions.

6 OpenTable Data Methodology: OpenTable looked at the most popular dates for group dining (6+) from January 1 – December 31, 2022.

SOURCE OpenTable, Inc.

Other Sources:

2 smscomparison, 2022

Updated 12/27/23


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