Facebook Partners With Open Table, Adds Mobile Reservations, TV Listings

Facebook on Monday announced partnering with OpenTable to allow users to make restaurant reservations through their mobile devices. Starting this week, U.S. users of Facebook iOS and Android apps can visit a restaurant’s page on the social network to book a direct reservation at more than 20,000 restaurants in North America.

People can also reserve a table after using Facebook’s “Nearby” feature to find a restaurant. Once a reservation has been made, OpenTable sends out an email confirming the booking, with a default setting for two people. OpenTable membership is not required to use the service. Reservations don’t generate a post in a user’s news feed and bookings are not automatically shared with friends.

“There’s no need to visit a separate mobile site or open a separate page,” stated Facebook in a blog post today. The social network hopes to better compete with the local directory services like Yelp and Foursquare, which have integrated OpenTable’s reservation system in the last few years.

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Unlike those alternatives, Facebook indicated OpenTable is built into the native app experience so there’s no clicking through to another site to make the reservation. Last month, Yelp signaled its intention to ramp up its offerings in this area through its $12.7 million acquisition of online reservation system SeatMe.

For Facebook, the move also underscores the push to provide more services for small- and medium-sized businesses to win more of their ad dollars. The company said during its second-quarter conference call that the number of local businesses advertising on Facebook had doubled in the last year. More than 18 million local businesses overall have Facebook pages.

On the local front, Facebook also said on Monday that iOS users can now get prime-time TV listings (courtesy of Rovi) through the updated app for the Apple platform.

“Listings will be based on your current time zone and include the channel name, air time and a description of the show or movie playing, meaning that the listings that exist in cable box guides, magazines and newspapers are now conveniently located on the Facebook Pages of peoples' favorite shows,” stated the Facebook blog post.

Inside Facebook also noted that hashtags, which the company rolled out on the desktop in June, have gone live in the iOS app. “Facebook users can engage with hashtags the way that they do in desktop. "Users will be able to search hashtags or tap them in posts, to discover discussion around a topic by friends and others within the Facebook ecosystem,” according to the Facebook-tracking blog.

Facebook itself pointed out that the addition of restaurant reservations and TV listings don’t require any changes from businesses that might benefit from these steps.

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