Urbanspoon Debuts Rezbook “Right Now,” Lets Diners See Real-Time Availability For Reservations & Waitlists

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Urbanspoon is continuing to heat up the competition between it and competitor OpenTable with the launch of a new feature for Rezbook, its iPad-based reservation and tablet management system for restaurant owners. Today, the company is introducing Rezbook “Right Now” which lets diners view immediate table availability at the restaurants found in Urbanspoon. The feature supports real-time availability for both reservations and walk-ins, the company says.

“Right Now,” as the feature is called, is especially helpful for gaining visibility into the wait times for restaurants which don’t take reservations, but tend to have heavy waitlist and walk-in traffic. Not only can the diners see wait times, they can also see how many diners are ahead of them on the waitlist.

On the restaurant owners’ side, they have the benefit of being able to make tables immediately available to diners searching in Urbanspoon’s apps for somewhere to eat.

With the launch of “Right Now,” Urbanspoon is also updating its consumer-facing iOS app. Diners can now choose to find restaurants within the app based on table availability. In the Urbanspoon iPhone app’s homescreen, table inventory will show in a bar which reads “Tables Available Right Now.” This is great for restaurant goers because it’s not always a question of “sushi or Italian?” – it’s a question of “where can I eat right now? (I’m hungry)!”

Rezbook competes with OpenTable’s own Electronic Reservation Book (ERB) system for restaurant owners, which offers guest database and table management features, reservation capabilities, waitlists, and real-time availability for 9 million diners seated per month at 25,000 restaurants. The OpenTable system also includes something called “flex-mode,” which intelligently combines tables (turning two-tops into a table for six or eight, for example). Urbanspoon reports over 1 million diners sat per month and 4,000 restaurants on its Rezbook system.

Urbanspoon also announced today that the James Beard Foundation is moving to the Rezbook system, and will use it to manage reservations and event check-ins for the James Beard House and out other events, like the James Beard Foundation Greens, C&C and the fall gala and auction.

The updated version of the iPhone app featuring the James Beard winners and nominees as well as the new table availability features is out now. The Android update will arrive soon.