Whereas market leader OpenTable (OPEN) typically charges restaurants a hardware fee, a monthly subscription fee, and a per-diner bookings fee, Yelp's service will be free to any restaurants that has "claimed" its Yelp page.
Yelp suggests the service's feature set won't be quit as robust as that of SeatMe's paid service, which will continue to be offered. The company's main goal: To boost user and restaurant engagement, with the hope that the latter group will be more interested in buying ads to promote their Yelp pages.
Yelp's move comes shortly after TripAdvisor (TRIP) entered the restaurant reservation market by acquiring leading European player LaFourchette; TechCrunch reports the purchase price was $140M. LaFourchette claims 12K+ restaurant partners; OpenTable has an international installed base of 7,721 restaurants at the end of Q1.
OPEN -0.9% premarket. Shares fell last year after Yelp announced the SeatMe deal. Though OpenTable's U.S. dominance is unlikely to be challenged in the near-term, Yelp's offering could gain a following with businesses looking to cut customer acquisition costs and/or are disgruntled with OpenTable's pricing.