Online Reservations Made Simple: SeatSimple Aims to Disrupt Online Reservation Industry

In February 2010, Grant Landram was just a consultant helping businesses optimize their social media strategy; he had no idea about the opportunity that would soon fall in his lap.

One client of his, a restaurant owner, hired him to help the restaurant grow fans on Facebook, using creative campaigns and promotions, in hopes of driving more customers to eat there.

The owner wanted to see the ROI of the money he was putting into social media, which gave Landram an idea. Why not allow Facebook fans to make a reservation right from the restaurant’s Facebook page? Exclusive promotions could be offered to fans, which would lead to more fans and more reservations, while allowing the restaurant owner to see his ROI. The answer Landram got when he presented his idea was surprising.

He learned the restaurant had no way to receive online reservations. Landram was amazed, but after talking with other restaurants, learned that most hostess stations are not equipped with a computer, let alone an Internet connection. Without the ability to receive e-mail notifications at the hostess station, it seemed this solution wouldn’t work.

Grant Landram

Six months later, Landram launched SeatSimple (www.SeatSimple.com), which allows any business to take reservations online from their Facebook page, website and blog. By eliminating the need for a computer and Internet connection, SeatSimple allows any restaurant to take reservations online by converting online reservations into a phone call that dials the business directly.

Without costly hardware or software, SeatSimple offers a quick and convenient solution to online reservations, for a fraction of the cost compared to electronic systems like OpenTable.

How Seat Simple Works

When a business signs up for SeatSimple, they are given a small piece of code to embed in their website, blog, or Facebook page. Once the code is pasted in, visitors will be able to make a reservation or appointment via a simple online reservation form. When the form is submitted, the reservation information is converted into a phone call that dials the business directly.

The business can approve or deny the reservation, at which time SeatSimple will automatically confirm with the customer. If the reservation cannot be honored due to availability or other reasons, SeatSimple will connect the business to the customer to make other arrangements. A demo is available on their website (www.SeatSimple.com/demo)

The reservation form can be customized to fit any business’s needs, whether it is custom reservation times or multiple locations. However, the most impressive feature of SeatSimple lies in its pricing structure. Instead of paying installation and setup fees or a monthly subscription fee, SeatSimple only charges for each reservation or appointment made.

“It makes more sense for a business to pay for a service when it’s working,” Landram explains. “SeatSimple is the lowest risk and most transparent service because you can see your ROI, and will never pay for something that doesn’t have a guaranteed return.”

Reservations are an Online Business

Beyond his business background of calculating margins and determining ROI, Landram truly believes there is a shift happening in reservation and appointment-based industries.

“If you own or operate a business that attracts a large amount of customers from reservations or appointments, you’re always looking for a way to increase the amount being made,” he says. “As more and more users turn to the internet for everything from searching local businesses to getting directions on how to get there, providing a quick and easy online booking option starts to make more and more sense.”

While it’s hard to gauge exactly how many users would rather use an online booking system than the traditional phone call, the success of other services like OpenTable, which now claims to have sat more 175 million diners, points toward the proliferation of online booking services.

“The numbers speak for themselves”, explains Landram. “When up to 50 percent of all reservations being made are happening online, businesses can’t afford to not provide an online option.”

SeatSimple’s mission to create an easier way for businesses to take reservations online is a simple one that carries some big questions. Will SeatSimple be the service that disrupts the online reservation industry? Will the restaurant industry be the ultimate benefactor of this service, or will it find it’s home in other appointment based verticals like salons/spas, flower shops and to-go ordering?

Landram remains optimistic that his service provides serious value where others fall short. “Right now there are thousands of businesses that survive on slim margins that can’t afford to break in to the online space because of the high upfront price tag,” he says. “SeatSimple makes online reservations a reality by offering a win-win service that makes more sense to the average business.”

Read more about SeatSimple on their website: www.SeatSimple.com, blog: seatsimple.tumblr.com, or follow them on twitter: Twitter.com/SeatSimple. If you have questions about the online reservation industry or if SeatSimple is right for your business, you can contact Grant Landram at Grant[at]seatsimple.com or 360.649.2031.

by Angela Porter

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