OpenTable Launches Group Buying Deals (Updated)

Restaurants are among the top categories for group buying deals. Now OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service, is getting in on the game. On its blog today, OpenTable announced that it is launching a weekly “Spotlight” offer that provides diners with $50 of dining for $25 at a featured restaurant, which must be an OpenTable customer.

The revenues are being split with restaurants and represent OpenTable’s first transaction product with consumers. OpenTable says it will feature a wide range of restaurants, both casual and formal.

Most dining parties will probably end up spending more than the offers, since typical OpenTable customers spend $50 a head and bring two to three people to dinner. Yelp has also been experimenting with group buying under the “Yelp Eats” and “Yelp Drinks” monikers.

Spotlight launches first in New York and Boston, with the weekly offers available beginning on Thursdays at 5 p.m. Other U.S. cities will follow in short order. In its first day, 1,100 New York offers have been sold, and 700 Boston offers. The infrastructure for the offers is being provided by IMShopping’s Nimble Commerce.

OpenTable intends to juice demand for the coupons by dropping “get a clue” hints as to the restaurant’s ID prior to the coupon going online — something that might spark additional page views.

Here are this week’s clues:

New York: This restaurant’s namesake has earned a total of 12 fierce and fiery Michelin stars.

Boston: This “Boston’s Best” spot offers fresh, simple, hearty fare akin to the teashops in British universities. Only better.

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