The Martin Agency, OpenTable and Virginia Tourism Create Stranger-Pairing Program

Virginia Tourism and OpenTable are turning open seats into chance meetings at busy restaurants all across Virginia. The Martin Agency worked with the Virginia Tourism Corporation and OpenTable, to launch OpenSeat, a new program that allows diners to opt in to share an open seat at their table with someone new. The program is designed to bring people together over a shared meal and celebrate common ground. More than 30 restaurants across Virginia are participating in this pilot program.

The Martin Agency recently launched a campaign for Virginia Tourism that showcased raw, emotional stories of different people coming together over Virginia food - proving what we share is much stronger than what makes us different.

On a social level, OpenSeat allows people to connect with people they normally wouldn’t have, and to have conversations that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. On a practical level, it solves that problem many people face when they walk into a crowded restaurant and there are no tables available, but there are plenty of open seats. And from the restaurants’ perspective, it allows them to maximize their capacity.

Before completing the reservation, diners simply write “OpenSeat” in the notes section. If another guest walks into the restaurant that has also opted into the program, both parties will be seated together. They’ll then have the opportunity to connect around the table and get to know one another. Participants will also receive a complimentary appetizer as part of their experience.

“To paraphrase William Butler Yeats, there are no strangers, only friends we haven’t yet met,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s Chief Dining Officer. “And what better way to get to know people in the community by sharing a delicious meal in a welcoming setting. We look forward to hearing about the connections made around the table through this program.”

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