Before computers and smartphones took over our lives, booking a hotel room or making a restaurant reservation required picking up something called a telephone. This, of course, required that we actually talk to someone, articulating our schedule preferences, and sometimes, reading a 16-digit credit card number out loud.
Now not only are most of those transactions less time consuming, but the entire booking pipeline is starting to be controlled by an increasingly small handful of large companies. On Friday, Priceline—which already owns travel websites Booking.com and Kayak.com—expanded its reach by agreeing to buy OpenTable, a restaurant-booking platform, for $2.6 billion in cash. "The kind of work that we do day to day is very similar," Priceline chief executive Darren Huston told the Wall Street Journal. "It's just a different marketplace."
San Francisco-based OpenTable, which was founded in 1998, seats some 15 million diners per month in over 31,000 restaurants. More recently, the reservations company moved into the mobile-payment space, allowing customers to pay for their meals using their phones, no wallet required.
The possibilities for your next trip are plentiful. Say you need to book a weekend business trip. Not only could you book your flight, hotel, and rental car from Priceline.com, but from the same website or app you'll be able to schedule your Saturday and Sunday dinners in advance, and possibly pay for them with your phone—all without having to speak a word to anyone.
Misanthropes of the world rejoice!