Experiences on OpenTable: What is it and how it benefits restaurants

restaurant afternoon tea experience

More now than ever, restaurants need to deliver amazing hospitality that goes well beyond just serving delicious food. Diners today are seeking out extraordinary, can’t-get-anywhere-else dining experiences to share with friends and even post about on social media.

That’s where Experiences on OpenTable come in. You can create one-of-a-kind events and promote them directly to a vast network of experience-hungry diners. From multi-course chef’s tasting menus to intimate wine pairings to interactive cooking classes, Experiences let restaurants showcase their talents and hospitality in fresh, creative ways.

In this guide, we explore exactly what Experiences on OpenTable are, why they matter for restaurants and how to design offerings that sell out and create buzz.

What are Experiences on OpenTable?

Experiences are unique, bookable dining events and offerings that restaurants create and promote on OpenTable. They can be used at any time. Rather than simply making a standard reservation, guests discover and reserve these special dining occasions right on a restaurant’s profile.

Maybe it’s a whiskey tasting flight led by the beverage director. Or an intimate chef’s table where the chef crafts a personalised tasting menu before diners’ eyes. It could even be a roll-up-your-sleeves cooking class teaching guests how to master a regional cuisine.

The possibilities for creating extraordinary, social media-worthy Experiences are limitless. The key is giving diners a curated, start-to-finish hospitality journey that transcends a traditional meal service—something they’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Why restaurants should offer Experiences

On the surface, Experiences help restaurants drive revenue with exclusive dining occasions. But not only do Experiences drive revenue, they also raise brand awareness, attract new diners and foster relationships with return guests. They tap into the experience economy and separate your restaurant from the competition.

Brand awareness

By offering unique, popular events that diners can’t find elsewhere, Experiences can position your restaurant as an innovative leader always bringing something new and extraordinary to the table.

New diner acquisition

Experiences provide a way to attract diners who haven’t experienced a restaurant’s hospitality yet. The allure of intimate, can’t-miss events acts as a major draw for guests looking for something a little different from their usual dining experiences.

Guest relationships

With Experiences, you can build connections by inviting guests to be part of a curated, intimate occasion at a restaurant to give them something they’ll never forget. It’s a way to keep guests coming back and turning one-time diners into regulars.

Experience economy

Diners are craving memorable moments that go far beyond simply eating a meal. Social media has changed the dining dynamic, and more guests are looking for restaurants that go one step further and offer immersive moments. Experiences tap directly into that desire for sharable occasions.

Setting up an Experience

Creating an enticing Experience on OpenTable is straightforward and intuitive. Just follow these five simple steps:

  1. Choose your Experience type. Log into your OpenTable account and go to the “Experiences” section under Marketing. Click “Create” and select the type of Experience you want to offer – either a Set Menu or Discounted Offer. This will determine the overall structure.
  2. Title. Name your Experience something that will catch the eye of diners, like “wine pairing dinner for two”.
  3. Get descriptive. Next, give your Experience an attention-grabbing title that specifies what makes it unique – like “Italian Wine Pairing Dinner” instead of just “Set Menu.” Then write a concise but compelling description that lays out all the juicy details like menu items and entertainment to hook guests.
  4. Set pricing and payments. One of the biggest advantages of Experiences is flexibility around payments. You can require prepayment at booking through Stripe to boost cash flow and reduce no-shows. Or you can have guests pay at the restaurant. Set per person pricing with options for adults and kids, or per party for group pricing.
  5. Tags. Use the relevant tags so people can find your Experiences. Eg, if it’s a tasting menu, giving the Experience the right tag will make sure it shows up in search results for people looking for this type of dining.

OpenTable gives you additional tools to refine your Experience even further. You can use Experiences just for promotion of recurring events. You can adjust availability by section or time period. The possibilities are endless to create unique hospitality moments.

How OpenTable makes Experiences easy

While ambitious restaurants have long offered tasting menus, wine pairings and other special events, on OpenTable an Experience streamlines every component in one seamless, user-friendly system.

Easy booking and payment

Rather than dealing with manual reservations and payments, OpenTable Experiences enable contactless, pre-paid booking directly through OpenTable. It’s easy for guests to book, meaning they can enjoy your Experiences with minimum fuss.

Centralised management

All Experience details, guest communications, bookings and other management happens within a restaurant’s OpenTable account. You can add, edit and remove Experiences with ease and have complete control over your offering.

Tips for creating a hit Experience

Ready to tap into the power of Experiences for your own restaurant? Here are some tips for designing curated events that sell out and create long-lasting excitement.

Get niche and focused

Tacking on an Experience component to regular service is fine and can help drive demand. But it’s also worth identifying a unique cuisine, technique, theme or occasions that feels distinctive to your restaurant.

Craft an all-inclusive package

Great Experiences provide an immersive, start-to-finish journey with elements like multiple courses, drink pairings, entertainment and an on-theme atmosphere.

Align with your brand

Whether through plating, music, special decor or other environmental touches, create an ambiance that brings your unique restaurant concept and Experience theme to life.

Hype It up

Use all your marketing channels from social media to email lists to promote and build excitement around your Experience well in advance of its launch date.

Leverage OpenTable

From Boost Campaigns flows to taking advantage of a vast diner network, use OpenTable’s full suite of features to amplify your Experience’s visibility.

How Diners can find and book your Experiences

An Experience is only as good as the guests who book it. For diners, finding and reserving unique restaurant Experiences through OpenTable is simple and super user-friendly.

Discovering Experiences

Experiences are prominently featured across OpenTable’s website and app, making them hard to miss. The homepage, search results pages, and individual restaurant profiles all highlight bookable Experiences.

There’s even a dedicated “Experiences” section on the website and app that curates the hottest, trendiest offerings in each area. It means diners can easily browse and get inspired by exceptional experiences nearby.

Simple booking

Once an Experience catches their eye, diners can quickly view all the details and secure their reservation with just a few taps or clicks—no phone calls or emails required.


Many Experiences are prepaid, allowing restaurants to collect payment in full at the time of booking. This streamlined checkout process guarantees a smooth arrival for diners.

Flexible payment options

While prepayment is common for Experiences, restaurants can also opt to have diners pay standard restaurant-industry gratuities calculated on the total Experience price.

Either way, OpenTable’s seamless payment integration offers a low-friction booking process for these special events.

Diners can also view pricing, photos, menus and other information about each Experience to help them make the perfect selection.

How do restaurants use Experiences?

Restaurants can choose to get truly creative when it comes to designing unique Experiences to wow their guests. From whimsical afternoon teas to hands-on cooking classes to exclusive omakase dinners, the possibilities are endless.

Some tone it down slightly, offering set menus with two to three courses. Or it might be that they focus on a particular meal time, be it breakfast or brunch Experiences. Other restaurants maximise quieter times by offering Experiences outside of peak hours.

Some Experiences might provide a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the restaurant’s cuisine and drinks. A pizza Experience might invite guests to learn dough stretching from the pizzaiolos before feasting on their creations. Or maybe it’s a mixology Experience where the beverage team guides guests in crafting signature cocktails.

Ely Wine Bar Experience

Restaurants can also use Experiences to offer dinners special discounts or add-ons that increase the perceived value. An Experience could include a complimentary drink or wine tasting before the meal. Or maybe it’s a take-home amenity like house-made pasta, dessert or cocktail kits as part of the package.

No matter the concept, Experiences empower restaurants to transcend the typical dining experience and create extraordinary hospitality guests will be clamouring for.

What restaurants say about OpenTable’s Experiences

The possibilities of Experiences are vast, but the best way to understand their impact is straight from the restaurants using them. Restaurants across the country are discovering how Experiences can drive revenue and unforgettable guest experiences.

Using the Experiences feature means we can craft a specific menu and have foresight over what guests plan to order. It allows us to plan better and get an idea of timings, meaning Sussex can optimise turnover rate. Guests can pick a starter and a dessert from the Experiences menu before arriving, and the whole thing can be done much faster without compromising the guest experience

Gladwin Brothers

When is the best time to offer an Experience?

Major holidays and special occasions are naturally popular times for restaurants to offer Experiences, but the truth is there’s never really a bad time to provide guests with extraordinary dining opportunities.

Obviously, holidays like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and the festive season lend themselves well to curated, celebratory Experiences. Restaurants can craft tasting menus, themed events and other festive occasions that allow guests to make more memorable celebrations.

Cultural events and observances also make for great Experience inspiration. Restaurants could offer specialty menus and pairings for Oktoberfest, Cinco de Mayo, Lunar New Year and more. These are prime opportunities to highlight a certain type of cuisine while educating guests.

You can also consider creating Experiences around major annual events like Restaurant Week, a huge summer music festival if your restaurant is located in a city hosting one. You could even make the most of the finale of a popular TV show, or the return of a seasonal ingredient.

Ultimately, any moment can become an Experience as long as it’s enticing enough to guests. All occasions are worth celebrating with a unique Experience. The key is tapping into your diners’ mindsets and developing engaging events that speak to their interests and recent needs and current desires.

Maybe it’s a themed dinner and cocktail takeover by a local brewery one weekend. Or an intimate cooking class followed by a multi-course lunch the next. Whenever you have the inspiration and capacity, there’s no need to wait for a particular holiday or event. Memorable Experiences have the power to turn any ordinary day into something extraordinary for guests.

Summary: It’s all in the Experience

The bottom line is that Experiences provide an amazing avenue for driving revenue while showcasing your restaurant’s unique hospitality in wildly creative ways. By dreaming up extraordinary events, you can earn media buzz, cement your reputation as an innovator and cultivate powerful guest loyalty.