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Restaurant review site Yelp and reservation booking site OpenTable team up

June 3, 2010 |  5:00 pm

For many diners, the restaurant experience begins on the Web. That’s where they search for reviews and book reservations. Now they can do both in one spot.

Yelp OpenTable 1 Yelp OpenTable 1Yelp users can now reserve a table while visiting a restaurant’s profile page on the popular review site, the San Francisco company said. That’s because Yelp is joining forces with reservations site OpenTable.com, which works with more than 13,000 restaurants nationwide.

Yelp users do not have to have an OpenTable account to make a reservation. But if they use the same e-mail address to create a Yelp account as an OpenTable account, they will automatically collect OpenTable points even if they are not logged in to their OpenTable account.

This could be an appetizing alliance for Yelp users because 29% of reviewed businesses on Yelp are restaurants. Yelp says users have been asking for an OpenTable feature on the site, something with which Yelp experimented early on.  

Yelp had 32 million unique visitors in May, according to the company. It’s one of the biggest players in the restaurant reviews niche that includes Chowhound and Citysearch. OpenTable also offers restaurant reviews on its site.

Competition is heating up. New players with deep pockets and big ambitions are wading in. Facebook has begun mailing door stickers to restaurants asking diners to “like” them on the social networking site. Google has launched Place Pages, a rival to Yelp. It distributes stickers with a bar code to restaurants that passers-by can scan with their mobile phones to get information or reviews. Google also explored buying the company for more than $500 million but that deal fell apart in December. 

Web companies are increasingly targeting restaurants and other local small businesses as a huge, untapped source of advertising dollars.

Yelp made some changes to its policies in the wake of a recent lawsuit filed by some small businesses who allege the company gives preferential treatment to advertisers. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman has forcefully denied the allegations.

-- Jessica Guynn

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