Online Restaurant Reservations CEO on Impacting the Restaurant Industry

Online Restaurant Reservations CEO on Impacting the Restaurant Industry

Established in 2007, EVEVE is a leading global supplier of live restaurant systems and has relationships with approximately 1,000 restaurants worldwide. Timothy Ryan, CEO and President of EVEVE’s North America operations, talks about how and why the company is making an impact on the restaurant reservation industry.

A recent article in Twin Cities Business reported that seven of the top 10 Twin Cities restaurants have made the switch from OpenTable to EVEVE for online restaurant reservations.  What are your thoughts on that?

For restaurants, Eveve’s unique selling point is that we offer live online reservations integrated with a serious table management solution, without the per cover-online fee structure.  There are plenty of basic solutions on the market, but for busy restaurants looking for a robust table management solution, there was formerly only one show in town (OpenTable), and as a monopoly they could dictate prices.

Now Eveve brings some much needed competitive pressure to the field with a toolset that is able to match the demands of even the most demanding restaurants.  With our competitive pricing, restaurants are able to slash thousands, or even tens of thousands from their annual fees.

What kind of savings can restaurant owners expect with EVEVE?

The savings are substantial.  60-80% savings would be typical, and in some cases as much as 90%.  Eveve has a banded licence fee structure ranging from $200 to $470 for the very busiest and discerning restaurants, with no per-cover fee, meaning a narrow range of prices.  OpenTable charges per cover, so in effect the price is vertical, with the busiest and most successful restaurants paying the most.  Any restaurant paying over $1000 will save 60-80% with Eveve, while restaurants paying over $2000 will save 80% or more.  Like the cell phone, the per-unit pricing model has become outdated, and does not mirror the value-add.  The restaurants who pay OpenTable the most are the ones who need them the least.

Tell us why you feel EVEVE’s technology compares to OpenTable’s?

OpenTable has an excellent product, there is no taking away from that.  Our product is comparable to OpenTable, and restaurateurs choose Eveve because the technology is a compelling alternative.  Eveve’s software can handle the management of thousands of bookings per week, maximise table usage, handle a large host team, run a waitlist and construct a database of tens of thousands of customers.  The key with Eveve is that it can do all of these things quickly and in real time between multiple machines and tablets.  This is essential at busy restaurants.

Are restaurants losing any bookings after they have switched to EVEVE?

No.  The engineers are diligent in recording previous booking volumes (OpenTable) and comparing them with current trends (Eveve).  The statistics point to a remarkable consistency in reservations across suppliers.  Restaurants which received around 2000 online diners per month with OpenTable, continue to get around 2000 with Eveve; while those at the 200 level get around 200 with us.  The restaurants which have switched to Eveve are in the public domain, and will verify this.  The numerous comparative studies indicate the impact of the OpenTable network is marginal, and can be negative as well as positive.

Can you expand on why the OpenTable network could be both positive and negative?

We do not dispute that the OpenTable network generates some incremental traffic for restaurants, but the statistics suggest it is marginal and accounts for less than 5%.  The OpenTable argument often goes that it can provide bookings from out of town business people or tourists that would not otherwise eat at the restaurant.   The big question is how many of a restaurant’s diners does it lose to the network? While it is possible to quantify which diners came because of the network, it is much harder to know how many are lost.

If we think about that businessperson, the buying decision was already made—they  were going to eat somewhere anyway.  Maybe they would have ordinarily eaten at restaurant X, and instead, because of the network he chose to eat at restaurant Y.  That is great for restaurant Y, but terrible for restaurant X.  If the network does not actually get more people eating out, it simply redistributes them.  If that is the case, there are winners and losers.  However, I will reiterate that the total network effect, good or bad, is marginal.

How does EVEVE impact a restaurant’s ability to maintain control of its brand?

Eveve puts the restaurant firmly in control of the reservation experience, and works in the background.  The Eveve solution is white label, with all the work done under the auspices of the restaurant’s brand.  All reservations are directed through media which the restaurateur controls, specifically their website and Facebook page.  The diner will typically not even know of Eveve’s existence.  Eveve never markets other 3rd party establishments to the restaurant’s clients.

OpenTable’s marketing tactics have become particularly frustrating for its larger clients.     These restaurants have realized that restaurants who have been paying OpenTable the most are the very ones who need them the least.    They have realized that the fees they’ve been paying OpenTable are being used to help promote their local competitors.    Open Table’s 1,000 point club actually openly rewards people for not going back to your restaurant a second time.   I honestly cannot think of another business that rewards its customers for purchasing a competitor’s product.   Can you imagine Apple rewarding someone for purchasing a Nokia phone?

Hell's Kitchen restaurant Minneapolis
Hell's Kitchen is one of EVEVE's premier Minneapolis clients and one of the top 10 busiest independent restaurants in the country.

Tell us a bit about your growth in the Twin Cities 

Many Fortune 100 companies use the Twin Cities as a test market, based on its demographic and geographic dynamics, and we felt that it was a great market to prove our concept.

Our main target market is busy independent restaurants and that is where we have been most successful.  Just over 50 restaurants have joined Eveve in Minnesota, including 7 of the 10 busiest independents in the Twin Cities.  Eveve processes some 50,000 diners per month in the Twin Cities or an estimated 39% of all online dinner reservations in the city.  If chains are removed, where we are not represented, that number could jump as high as 50%+ amongst independent restaurants.

With most of the busy independents in Minnesota already signed up with Eveve, much of our recent growth has been outside Minneapolis-St Paul, mainly driven by inbound interest.  We now have restaurants in 17 states, with particularly strong interest in California, Colorado and Illinois.

What type of global presence does EVEVE have?

Eveve services 625 systems across 10 countries, with 90 in North America.  Our biggest markets are the UK, USA and New Zealand, with smaller holdings in Canada, Australia, Ireland, Spain, Thailand and Greece.

What does the future hold for EVEVE?

We are very focused on long term relationships with our clients, and the provision of the best possible service at a competitive price, remains our priority.  Most recently, we have been delighted at the level of inbound interest from across the USA, which shows there is demand for the product throughout the country.  We feel very privileged.

For more information about Eveve’s restaurant booking systems, contact:

Timothy Ryan