Restaurant booking no shows aren’t just an inconvenience, they can be a serious threat to the survival of a business too. A recent BBC report identified that no shows amount for up to 20% of restaurant bookings and can cost businesses thousands of pounds every month. According to restaurant critic Jay Rayner, third party booking sites that depersonalise the experience are one of the main reasons customers are happy to be so casual about cancelling. But if you avoid using them is that the only way to reduce no-shows?
Personalising the process is key
Third party booking systems may not be particularly helpful when it comes to ensuring that customers take more care with restaurant bookings. As Rayner points out, there is no emotional connection when a consumer makes an online booking – it’s not the same as picking up the phone and speaking to a human being. However, online booking systems themselves aren’t the issue, just the impersonal approach that many third party platforms take. Applying a process of personalisation to your booking process – whatever that is - can have a significant impact on reducing no-shows.
Ways to reduce no-shows in your booking process
Adapt your booking process so that it matches your brand personality
It’s always a challenge to inject a corporate brand with personality. However, this is also the best way to generate the kind of connection with consumers that will establish bonds of loyalty and make them think twice about being a no-show. Brand personality can be added via the language of the booking process, the aesthetics, offers and experience that you deliver.
Remind customers about the booking
There are a range of different ways that you can do this, from using an SMS reminder service to calling to confirm reservations. Email is another option – use reminder emails that require a positive response, such as clicking on a link to confirm that the booking is going ahead.
Delve into the data
If you’re using an ePOS infrastructure in your restaurant then you can link this to a booking system to make use of the data you have on your customers. This can shed light on many different behaviours and habits, from how often customers are likely to visit you, to how many times they have booked and not shown up before. With this kind of data it will be easier to match incentives and marketing to customers to make it more effective, and to put safeguards in place for the serial no-shows.
Avoid a situation of cancelling complexity
Although you don’t want diners to cancel, making it difficult for them to do so isn’t going to stop that from happening. The easier it is for customers to cancel a reservation if they no longer want it, the less likely you are to be stuck with a no-show instead.
Although no-shows are a serious problem for many businesses in the restaurant industry they don’t have to be costly. A few changes to the way customers book, as well as using ePOS data to personalise the experience, can make all the difference.