Friday, April 27, 2007

Getting That Elusive Reservation

Tired of hitting redial and waiting on hold to get a coveted dinner reservation at that hot spot in town? The Wall Street Journal recently published a list of tips and tricks. Now there might be an easier way. I recently came across the new online booking website: Tablestalker.

Billing itself as an "online concierge" service, Tablestalker is a mashup of OpenTable.com, the online reservation system, and Dapper, a new web service that "allows anyone to extract and reuse content from any website". To use Tablestalker, you simply enter the name of the restaurant where you want to dine along with your selected reservation date and time, the size of your party, and your contact information. The information is submitted to Dapper, which then crawls the openings in OpenTable. If and when a table opens up, the Dapper service sends an email informing you of the available seats. Of course, you will still have to act quickly to reserve the table, but at least you won't be sitting around guessing when a table might open up. Hopefully in the future, the service will be able to book the reservation automatically instead of sending out an email.

Currently, the Tablestalker service is limited to the collection of restaurants available through OpenTable in a small number of selected cities. Perhaps one day, you can remove The French Laundry phone number from your speed dialer.

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