How to become a local restaurant legend: OpenTable’s top tips

Last year was nothing short of turbulent, but one uplifting trend we saw in 2021 was a rise in support for local restaurants—a trend that looks like it’s sticking around. Luckily, OpenTable offers plenty of features to help you build your local story, stand out from the pack, and bring in more consistent revenue.

The definition of “local” might vary depending on who you talk to, but here are a few things to consider: diners aren’t only looking for local spots, but also locally-sourced produce and ingredients. Diners are also likely to look for places that have a strong word-of-mouth reputation, and 86%* say they’re likely to return to a restaurant that makes them feel like a regular, according to our most recent OpenTable Diner survey. Read on for tips to create more regulars and boost your restaurant’s popularity with the locals.

Become the most packed spot in town

The first step to filling your dining room is getting discovered in the first place. If you’re not on social media already, consider doing so. When you reach people as they’re scrolling for fun rather than shopping for a restaurant, they’re relaxed and more receptive to seeing what you offer. Make sure you post regularly and interact with your followers on social by asking questions and responding to comments on your posts.

Some people will use search engines when looking for a local restaurant, but many will come directly to OpenTable—so it’s important to keep your menu and profile up to date. Do you offer takeaway, delivery, or experiences? Add these details to your profile so new guests can see all the ways they can dine with you. The more ways guests can enjoy your restaurant, the more likely it is that you’ll be top of mind the next time they want to eat out.

According to our most recent Diner Survey, 85%* are dining out for celebrations (i.e. birthday, anniversary, graduation), so when you want to bring in even more guests, you can showcase your unique experiences to the OpenTable diner network. To top it all off, guests who book with you through OpenTable are less likely to be no-shows—so anyone walking past your restaurant is more likely to see a hopping local place that they simply can’t pass up.

Make your dining experience hassle-free

Imagine this: you’re in the thick of a busy night. Everyone on the waitlist is happy because they’ve been given accurate wait times. Your tables are always full, and your dining room is humming with joy. That’s what’s possible when your staff is set up for success right from the get-go—from your first guest of the night to the stragglers who close the place down.

To achieve this dream of dreams, make sure you maximise your table availability including waitlist, turn times, and optimise the setting based on your data to squeeze the juice out of every shift. When you connect your Point of Sales system and OpenTable’s automatic table statusing to make your table turnover super fast, soon you’ll be known not only for your food but also for the seamlessly delightful experience of enjoying a meal at your restaurant.

Manage your local reputation

These days, each guest who enters your dining room (or just sits at the bar) has the power to impact your business with reviews, which have a powerful effect on whether or not new guests will come to your restaurant. According to research by Capterra, 98% of Australian shoppers read online reviews and 94% believe them to be trustworthy.

When you encounter negative reviews, as every business will, it’s important not to take them personally or, worse yet, escalate the conflict publicly.

If you’re looking for more reviews in general, try asking for them. We know that’s easier said than done—when you’re a busy restaurant owner, it can be hard to make time to talk to guests, let alone read reviews from ALL the platforms, analyse the feedback, and make any necessary changes. With OpenTable, you can aggregate and manage your reviews all in one place and also make use of the benchmark, keyword, and sentiment analysation tools to help you gather learnings and implement that feedback as soon as possible.

Also, remember that you can always use OpenTable to send your guests a custom survey. Locals will enjoy being a part of your restaurant’s journey— consulting them before making big choices or pivots lets them know you value their opinion.

Create a sense of belonging for your guests

If you want to become a local legend, help your guests feel like they belong. You can do this by knowing your guests better than anyone else. Do you know their name? Do they usually drink white or red wine? How long has it been since their last visit? By setting up guest profiles with information like this, you can make your VIPs, influencers, and top spenders feel like your restaurant is exactly where they belong.

You can also use guest profiles to reach out to VIP guests between visits. In fact, 80%* of diners say that they feel like regulars when the restaurant notifies them about any special offers or promotions. Send tailored messages at the right time with your OpenTable account to keep those locals coming back again and again.

Ready to become the local legend your neighbourhood is waiting for? Check how OpenTable can help!

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*OpenTable surveyed 927 diners in Australia on 
 the OpenTable network between 10 January, 2022 and 18 January, 2022.