Calgary-based Poynt (TSXV:PYN) today announced it will integrate restaurant reservation services LaFourchette and ElTenedor into the restaurant section of the app.
The company says users in France and Spain will now be able to see ratings, read reviews and book restaurant reservations. Some establishments, they add, will offer discounts of up to 50%.
LaFourchette (“The Fork”) provides restaurant bookings at over 6,000 restaurants in France while ElTenedor boasts more than 4,500 in Spain.
While the press release did not touch on how the service would translate to Poynt’s bottom line, the company is entering a lucrative, if surprisingly mature, space.
In 1998, OpenTable (NASD:OPEN) got its start by serving a few San Francisco restaurants. The company now has more than 25,000 restaurant customers, and says it has seated more than 280-million diners around the world. According to one report, OpenTable now accounts for just under 10% of the 700-million dining sessions in North American restaurants every year.
OpenTable charges restaurants $199 a month to use its table management and customer tracking terminals, as well as $1 for every diner who books a seat through its site, and $.25 cents for diners who come through the OpenTable widget on the restaurant’s home page. The company, which went public in May of 2009, saw its revenues leap to $139.5 million in 2011, up 41% over 2010 revenues of $99.0 million.
But Fast Company’s Farhad Manjoo points out that the company’s dominance has begun to ruffle the feathers of some in the industry.
Manjoo points out that many restaurant owners, who operate in inherently low-margin environments are finding that OpenTable’s fees are akin to a ransom. “When I look at other IT systems in my restaurant — my point-of-sale system, my telephone system — those take up about 0.1% of my annual revenue,” he quotes Mark Pastore, owner of San Francisco’s Incanto, who adds: “OpenTable is going to cost me at least 2% to 3% of revenue.”
The sheer number of users of the Poynt app suggests, if it can find a workable model that is differentiated from OpenTable, it may be able to make a dent in the into the restaurant reservation space. On the mobile side, it will also need to compete with would-be OpenTable Killer, UrbanSpoon, whose app recently passed fifteen-million downloads. Poynt, however, has more than twelve-million users, and has grown 158% in the past year alone. Poynt has made recent inroads into China, which it says will deliver at least twenty-million active users by early next year. And, on December 1st, the company announced what that Poynt will come preloaded on all Samsung Galaxy devices.
Shares of Poynt closed today down 4% to $.12 cents.
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