It sounds all too good to be true. Freebookings, a new online reservation service, is set to launch this summer. Free-Bookings promises three things, which strike me as extraordinary: no additional hardware, no service charges, and no cover fees. What? Hard to believe.
Before I shared this with you, I shot an email over to LiveBookings as Free-Bookings claims to powered by its software. We also signed up to see the software; we will get back to you on our initial assessment.
It isn’t clear how this service will make money. While much smaller than OpenTable, LiveBookings, an online reservation company started in the UK (which definitely isn’t free), has a foothold in many countries around the world even though it can claim the same for the US. Why would LiveBookings help out an upstart that promises to undercut their business? Are they owned by LiveBookings?
Here is how they describe it. Freebookings is Internet-based and can work through a home computer, an office computer, an iPad or smartphone. More or less, if it has WiFi, there is a good chance it will work with Freebookings. Along with giving a restaurant online reservation capability 24 hours per day and enabling them to control the flow of diners, Freebookings claims to hand over the email database of customers, permitting the kind of direct email marketing that OpenTable has resisted.
This service seems to be designed on the Urbanspoon premise of extreme simplicity and clarity. As does Urbanspoon’s software, Freebookings’ requires no training. Also, in addition to websites, it works through Facebook providing restaurants an additional portal to take reservations.
While still free currently, Urbanspoon’s RezBook plans on moving over to a system of cover charges and service fees. With a name like Freebookings, they really have branded themselves into a corner. But I could be missing something, some substantial untapped source of revenue.At this point, I think the wisest course is for you to check out the software, ask questions about its business model and stay tuned to our updates.
If anyone has additional info, please comment.