One of the all-time most popular restaurant apps on mobile is Urbanspoon (iTunes link). It is still one of the top 10 travel apps on the iPhone. The app’s signature gesture is a shake to find nearby restaurants. Urbanspoon just passed one billion shakes and has been downloaded 20 million times across all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry). In March 2010, it hit 500 million shakes, so it’s doubled in less than a year and half.
But what exactly is the value of a shake? Well, the apps run ads as does the website. With 100 million pageviews a month across those apps and the web, shakes turn into ad impressions. But the real play here is restaurant reservations. Urbanspoon is going after OpenTable.
Last year, Urbanspoon launched Rezbook, an iPad app that allows restaurants to take reservations directly from the Urbanspoon app and site. “Two years ago, an online reservation system required a massive upfront investment,” notes Kara Nortman, the senior VP at IAC in charge of Urbanspoon (and CityGrid Media). Now, all they need is an iPad and a simple app.
Currently, only about 800 restaurants are on the Rezbook system, out of 800,000 listed in Urbanspoon. When they show up in Urbanspoon, users can book a table. Nortman says that Urbanspoon is seating 19,000 diners a month at those 800 restaurants, which comes to about 24 diners per month per restaurant. OpenTable, in contrast, seats an average of 450 diners a month per restaurant, but it’s been at this a lot longer.
Urbanspoon has only tapped one thousandth of the restaurants in its listings, and is now starting to sign them up in a more serious effort after testing the service. “As more and more consumers think of Urbanspoon as a place to discover and then follow-up with a real-time reservation, we should see this number grow,” says Nortman.
She sees her mobile app as her competitive advantage because it is more immediate. For reservations made from the Urbanspoon app, 22 percent are made within the hour and 77 percent within 24 hours. Of course, OpenTable also has a great mobile app for making reservation which covers many more restaurants right now. But Urbanspoon sees an opening and is going after it.