Groupon Is No OpenTable Killer

It's been a bad week for investors in both OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN  ) and Groupon (Nasdaq: GRPN  ) .

Shares of OpenTable -- the leading online dining reservations specialist -- have fallen 7% through the first two trading days after Groupon announced that it would be acquiring Savored. Groupon has actually seen its stock tumble nearly 9%, though that's not likely the result of the opportunistic acquisition.

Savored offers a new spin on the Groupon Now model, catering solely to restaurateurs with excess capacity during off hours. Eateries offer up to 30% off the tab on a reservation's food and drink order at times and days of the week when they know that they won't be busy. There are currently roughly 1,000 participating restaurants in 10 different cities, though nearly half of the establishments are in New York City.

The initial market reaction has been to categorize Savored as a competitor to OpenTable, suggesting that Groupon is now muscling in on the company's dining reservations stronghold.

That's not right.

OpenTable abandoned its own Groupon-like offering last year when it shelved OpenTable Spotlight. Jumping into the daily deals niche by selling discounted prepaid restaurant vouchers may be working profitably for companies including Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO  ) , but it just didn't fit OpenTable's model. Whether the numbers didn't add up or the markdowns proved to be a conflict of interest with its existing client base of more than 25,000 restaurants, it just didn't pan out. OpenTable chose instead to simply outsource the deals -- through Savored.

A source tells Forbes that Groupon is paying no more than $20 million for Savored, so clearly this isn't a big deal. There must be a reason why OpenTable -- which has partnered with Savored in the past -- or dining reviews website Yelp didn't put up much of a fight.

Savored may work out well for Groupon. It fits the discount mind-set in attracting eateries willing to sell food and drinks for fractions on the dollar. However, comparing OpenTable -- a full-fledged reservations platform -- to a low-tech discount platform doesn't make sense.

OpenTable will be just fine.

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Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of OpenTable and Travelzoo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Travelzoo. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2012, at 9:20 PM, Caveman03 wrote:

    I'm a Motley fan, but this has to be one of the worst articles I've read from Motley. Who hired this guy? He must be new. You are jumping to your own conclusion buddy, relax your stocks in Open Table will be just fine. Get your emotions out of your investments if you want to write about this stuff.

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