Earlier this week, the social travel site Gogobot announced that it will now allow users to make reservations at various restaurants across the country through a new feature supported by OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN).  This is a welcome piece of information for investors in the online restaurant-reservation website who were not too impressed by the fact that OpenTable shaved off about $2 million from the higher side of its revenue estimate for the year – with Hurricane Sandy blamed for half a million in lost revenues.  The tie-up with Gogobot grants the more than 2.5 million users registered on the social trip planner access to OpenTable’s reservation services. We maintain a $52 price estimate for OpenTable’s stock, about 20% above the current market price as we believe that there are several untapped potential revenue sources that OpenTable will realize in the years to come.
Often quoted as the next big thing in the online and social travel space, Gogobot has seen remarkable growth this year with the website growing its customer base from under a million users this May to more than 2.5 million within six months. And while the website is diversified in its offerings related to travel, accommodation as well as dining, restaurants undoubtedly are an important aspect of Gogobot’s user experience. The tie-up with OpenTable is, hence, a positive step forward for both companies.
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The deal also comes at a good time as in recent quarters investors have been quite vocal about their view that OpenTable’s growth engine has been running out of steam. A growing number of competitors both at home in the U.S. as well as in its international business – primarily U.K. – and an increasing expense tab has put OpenTable’s margins under considerable pressure. And while it must be noted that historically the third quarter is a slow period for the restaurant industry as a whole, concerns were raised by the fact that the number of diners seated by the company in North America this quarter was 2% lower than that for the previous quarter (27.4 million in Q3 vs. 28 million in Q2). OpenTable is also expecting a slow Q4, evidenced by CFO Duncan Robertson’s admission during the Q3 conference call that October saw a 1% year-on-year decline in diner count. Hurricane Sandy is only going to drag down the diner count further.
Tie-ups and partnerships like the recent one with Gogobot or the ones OpenTable has maintained for a while now with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Menupages, TripAdvisor, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), Yelp and Zagat among others are becoming increasingly important for OpenTable as they offer an inexpensive channel to bring in additional diners at a time when the company is battling spiraling costs.
- Social Travel Site Gogobot Adds Realtime Hotel Pricing, OpenTable Integration & 360-Degree Looks Via Street View, TechCrunch, Nov 13 2012 [↩]
- OpenTable, Inc. Announces Third Quarter Financial Results, OpenTable Press Releases, Nov 1 2012 [↩]