Mike Xenakis of OpenTable, the world's leading online restaurant reservations service, shares some favourite sites.

Mike Xenakis, the Managing Director of OpenTable International, is no stranger to social engagements. He started his career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and before leaving service spent time representing the Air Force as a White House military social aide.

This proved to be a great training ground for his future role running the European operations for OpenTable, the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations. With approximately 6,300 bookable restaurants in Europe and more than 32,000 restaurants worldwide, OpenTable seats more than 16 million diners per month.

Mike joined OpenTable in 2000 and spent his first twelve years with the company running the product management organisation in San Francisco, before moving to London in 2012 to take on his current role.


Bleacher Report - As a sports enthusiast (or possible addict), I love this website and associated app. Staying on top of Boston sports in particular is so easy by leveraging their site preferences and notification alerts. I’m embarrassed to say I begin and end my day with Bleacher Report. Then again, I can think of worse vices.

Kayak – Is there an easier website out there to assist with travel? Kayak was a godsend when it first launched as it removed the need to comparison shop across a slew of awful airline websites and poor travel site aggregators. The emphasis they place on usability is evident. If all online companies designed their sites as simply and purposefully as Kayak, the web would be a much more enjoyable place to transact.

Amazon – This is hardly a unique site to list, but the fact is any shopping I perform happens on Amazon. The introduction of prime membership and its associated free shipping has made my shopping process straightforward - perform a search, filter on prime eligible (i.e. free shipping) and purchase the first item with a decent user rating. Amazon has removed all thought from my purchasing decisions, which makes shopping infinitely more enjoyable (or less painful).

Spurious Correlations – I’m guessing this site isn’t on anyone else’s top ten list (or top 100 for that matter). However, I’ve always been a bit of statistics geek and get worked up when people (in particular politicians and journalists) incorrectly support an argument by confusing a correlation statistic for causation. This site publishes humorous examples (e.g. US crude oil imports from Norway correlated to drivers killed in collisions with railway trains) to highlight the pitfalls of correlation statistics.

OpenTable – As my intro indicates, I work for OpenTable. Clearly, listing my own company’s site might hint at bias. However, one of the reasons I’ve been at OpenTable for over fifteen years is I absolutely love the products and services we provide. The website and associated mobile apps have forever changed the way people think about dining out and, in particular, securing a reservation. Hard not to include OpenTable on my list.

My favourite app... Uber – The hands-down winner of a required app on everyone’s phone is Uber. I’ll keep it simple. The traditional means of securing transportation is archaic. The Uber approach is enlightened. Enough said.

3 June 2015