OpenTable Has More Restaurant Reviews Than Yelp (Who Knew?!?)

Filed in Local Search, Statistics by Matt McGee on September 5, 2012 4 Comments

opentable-logoThis caught me by surprise when it crossed my desk this afternoon: OpenTable is saying that it has more than 15 million restaurant reviews.

Really? OpenTable? That’s half of the 30 million reviews that Yelp reported in its last earnings call — but Yelp is counting reviews in all categories. If you’re just counting places to eat,

OpenTable has about twice as many restaurant reviews as Yelp.

I’m reaching that conclusion based on Yelp’s self-reported total of 30 million reviews, and its previous statements that restaurants make up only about 23 percent of its overall review count.

yelp-reviewed-businesses

By my count, that means Yelp has about seven million restaurant reviews — half of what OpenTable claims to have.

I find that very surprising, primarily because OpenTable has very little penetration in my small/mid-sized market. I’m aware of only one local restaurant that uses it: Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar (a great place to eat, by the way).

OpenTable is primarily a reservation-making service (that, at least, is my impression of it) and we don’t have a ton of restaurants in this area that require reservations. I’m sure that’s the same in many other smaller and mid-sized communities. So, clearly, OpenTable is doing a lot of its business in bigger cities.

My impression is that OpenTable’s reviews are more like Foursquare tips in their length and depth, but looking at Twigs’ reviews, the mix of content is actually pretty good.

opentable-reviews

Anyway, I know I’ve said before that review counts are meaningless, and I stand by that in the long run. But what a surprise to find out how many OpenTable has in its system.

Comments (4)

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  1. Tom says:

    As a restaurant manager and restaurant marketer I have far more faith in OpenTable’s reviews that Yelp’s because of one reason. On OpenTable you are prompted to review a restaurant only after you have eaten there. This leads to far more balanced, educated reviews than on Yelp where you don’t necessarily have to have visited a place to leave a review. In my opinion this makes OT’s reviews far more trustworthy.

  2. Matt: That is very interesting and it surprises me also. Unlike Tom, above, I don’t market restaurants, but I interact with lots of them. I respect Tom’s perspective.

    There are many unique elements to restaurant marketing, among them incentive programs, making reservations, etc. In fact incentive programs tied to discounts have been around for decades. Sam Zell, the big shot billionaire investor owned one of them years ago. I recall one in its very initial stages tied to cc’s starting in the earlier or mid 1980′s I believe.

    The web makes all of them infinitely more available to consumers and similarly more vital to restaurant operators. But so many….Ooof. If I was a restaurant operator, from which do I choose? They all cost me something.

    As to the volume of reviews…surprising, interesting and once you start using opentable…maybe not that shocking at all. Reviews are encouraged. Its all part of the big savings/incentive program.

    Matt: I’m in a big city environment. Open Table is all over the area. Its used by all sorts of restaurants, including those where you really don’t need reservations…but the process encourages savings for the consumer….so they make them.

    Its a unique environment in its own right and one with lots of monetization tied to it.

  3. Michael says:

    I agree with Tom regarding credibility. We have a restaurant and we market an app for (private) restaurant feedback called OwnerListens. With the app we know that the person was actually at our location (it pings a server with a longitude and latitude) and we are seeing that this feedback is much more valuable, detailed and credible than a Yelp review. Because it’s real time, we also have the exact time that the feedback was given and sometimes people even take a photo of a problem (such as a dirty bathroom) which helps pinpoint the issue. Check it out at http://ownerlistens.com – you can also download the free app here: http://bit.ly/OLApp

  4. Robinsh says:

    It matters on the reviewers :)

    But really a surprising fact you disclosed writing this article, because atleast I was also not thinking that the results would be something like this.

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