OpenTable Restaurant Data Becomes New Battleground in Race Against Competitors

The new data-sharing regulations go into effect on Friday.

15 Mar, 2019FORTUNE.COM

BEAM - OpenTable Restaurant Data Becomes New Battleground in Race Against Competitors | BEAM

OpenTable is moving to make it more difficult for restaurants to share data with competitors, according to a new report.

In new rules OpenTable is implementing on Friday, the company is preventing restaurants from sharing data they obtained through its service with other companies, The Wall Street Journal is reporting after obtaining a copy of the client agreement. Some restaurateurs told the Journal that the policy appears to be an attempt to thwart rivals, like SevenRooms and others, that are trying to target OpenTable’s customers.

OpenTable is a restaurant reservation service that allows patrons to book tables from the Web. Restaurants pay OpenTable $1.50 for every person who reserves a table through its service. OpenTable also operates a guest-services platform to help restaurants run more smoothly.

In an interview with the Journal, OpenTable CEO Steve Hafner denied claims that his company’s new policy takes aim at competitors. Instead, he said that it’s an attempt by OpenTable to safeguard user data and enhance privacy. The data includes guest information that could have been shared with third-parties under the previous regulations, according to the Journal.

The move has angered some restaurant owners who use SevenRooms with OpenTable to manage guests. In those scenarios, OpenTable handles guest reservations and SevenRooms, which charges restaurants $500 per month for its offering, takes the guest information from OpenTable and assists restaurants with table management. Under the new policy, that practice would be banned.

SevenRooms told the Journal that it’s in talks with OpenTable to resolve the issue.

For now, though, the new regulations have gone into effect. And it’s unclear what kinds of penalties restaurants could face if they run afoul of OpenTable’s policy.

Neither OpenTable nor SevenRooms immediately responded to a Fortune request for comment.

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