With new site, Tripleseat now the OpenTable of private dining

When covering the announcement of Tripleseat's funding this past December, TechCrunch's Sarah Lacy gave her post a eye-catching title: "Tripleseat: Building the Next OpenTable Outside the Valley System." At the time the article was published, however, Tripleseat didn't quite mirror the business model of OpenTable. While OpenTable serves consumers looking to find and make a

The redesigned Tripleseat homepage now showcases the web-based software’s feature set for venue owners as well as event bookers. Screenshot from tripleseat.com.

Disclosure: The co-founder of Tripleseat, Dusty Davidson, is also the co-founder and an active part of the executive team of Silicon Prairie News.

When covering the announcement of Tripleseat‘s funding this past December, TechCrunch‘s Sarah Lacy gave her post an eye-catching title: “Tripleseat: Building the Next OpenTable Outside the Valley System.”

At the time the article was published, however, Tripleseat didn’t quite mirror the business model of OpenTable. While OpenTable serves consumers looking to find and make a restaurant reservation, Tripleseat was focused on helping restaurant and private dining venues book groups or companies looking to hold a private party. A fact that Lacy pointed out herself: “TripleSeat isn’t really trying to be an ‘OpenTable killer.’ ”

Today, ironically, with Tripleseat’s website redesign release and new strategy, that title couldn’t work any better. Tripleseat is, in effect, the OpenTable of the private dining industry.

“We are helping the restaurants and event venues to manage their locations and manage their venues,” Dusty Davidson, Tripleseat co-founder and vice president of marketing (left), said, “as well as provide a resource for people looking to connect with and find an event venue for a party or an event that they want to host.”

To accomplish this shift, Tripleseat took a venue listings site they launched August 2010, privatedining.in, and merged it with tripleseat.com. In the long run, the aim is to boost the brand of Tripleseat, making it the go-to place for individuals looking to book a venue and for venues looking to fill-out their private dining reservations, which Tripleseat says is $26 billion market.

The new Tripleseat venues page was previously featured on their other site, privatedining.in. Screenshot from tripleseat.com.

Of course, with that kind of market opportunity, they’re not the only ones in this game – OpenTable also lists private dining venues and in April, Y-Combinator backed Venuetastic launched its site which features listings of a variety of venue types. OpenTable charges it’s users to both sign up for the product as well as capture bookings. Venuetastic is free to sign up for but charges a commission on bookings.

The Tripleseat model: “We’re taking the freemium route on this,” Davidson said. Previously, the base plan was $100. That level still exists, but Tripleseat has since added a free base plan to bring more restaurants into the service and build out their venue listing. It’s now free for a venue, such as Urban Wine Company in Omaha, to list, capture leads and book their “Barrel Room,” giving them limited access to Tripleseat. If Urban Wine wanted to take advantage of more Tripleseat features, such as reporting, they’d need to upgrade to a $100 Basic account. (Note: Urban Wine is a Standard account Tripleseat customer and you can see their live booking page at tripleseat.com/venues/omaha/urban-wine-company.)

In addition to the venue listings, the Tripleseat site is completely redesigned, featuring a built out “Why Tripleseat?” page, “Features” page and “About” page. Currently at 11 employees, four of the five based out of Omaha – Davidson, Kevin Zink, Tony Noecker and Rick Knudtson – were responsible for the redesign and development. Outside of marketing intern Alex Knust, the rest of the Tripleseat team is based in Boston and New York City.

As far as what’s next, Davidson said: “Really now just a big marketing push to get both free signups for the listing site, because we want it to be the most complete and accurate as possible and have as many restaurants signed up as possible in the cities that we cover, and continue a sales and marketing push for the Tripleseat software itself.”

To read more about the Tripleseat redesign and strategy shift, see their company blog: “Unveiling the new Tripleseat.com.”

Here’s a video from Tripleseat on YouTube showing a screencast of the site’s new venue listing page:

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