Yelp is getting into the online reservation game.
The online community that allows people to review everything from restaurants to auto mechanics is now offering restaurants the ability to have their sites accept reservations through SeatMe, an online reservation service it acquired last year, according to TechCrunch.
Yelp has provided online reservation abilities since 2010 through a relationship with OpenTable, but now the online review community is taking things into its own hands with the purchase of SeatMe.
According to Techcrunch, Yelp acquired SeatMe in July 2013 for $2.2 million in cash and 263,000 shares of common stock, making the deal worth about $12.7 million.
On the company's website, Yelp explains how the service benefits restaurants by providing table management assistance, sending reservation confirmations and reminders via text, and offering automatic wait list information for patrons who didn't make plans. The service rolled out quietly over the past few months but is gaining buzz now.
The service is also cheaper than OpenTable, the leading online restaurant service. According to Yelp, its setup fee is free (versus a $650 OpenTable charge). Yelp's SeatMe monthly charge, at $99, is also half of OpenTable's $199 fee.
The service is still kind of muddy, however. A visit to Market 17's Yelp page, for instance, showed a "Make a Reservation" button that led to OpenTable's system. A representative from SeatMe told Clean Plate Charlie that restaurants that already have a relationship with OpenTable will still be able to have Yelpers make reservations through the site for now. "We don't want to take away from any user's experience."