What's the solution to the reservation no-show problem? Selling tickets in advance. Here's a quick look at restaurants suffering from no-show "reservation frustration" and how restaurant ticketing software is the cure for what ails them...and you!
Diagnosis: No-Show Reservation Frustration
Restaurants are making the switch from taking telephone reservations to concert-style ticketing software for many reasons - the number one reason? Money. No-shows are expensive. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay charges no-shows $225 as a deterrent at his restaurant in London. And it isn't just world famous celebrity chefs who are frustrated.
Maureen Scurfield just published the frustrations of several restaurant owners who are at their wits end with no-shows.
"I had a well-known man make a reservation for 25 people. I talked to this man about it several times and he assured me it he was bringing 25 people. At the last minute he dropped his number by 10! There was no way to recoup the $1,000." - Verna Judge Step'n Out.
"We recently had 14 people ask us to open early and serve them a fruit platter breakfast and then they'd have their business meeting and join us for lunch. They phoned and cancelled at 5 a.m., via email! The chef had already prepped the fruit salads and the owner was coming in early because we are ordinarily not open in the morning." - Curtis Love Resto Gare
Some desperate restaurant owners have started requiring a credit card number be given when the telephone reservation is made. But even that isn't enough for some no-shows according to Next restaurant owner Nick Kokonas, who said "diners who neglect to cancel in time would place stops on their credit cards to prevent the cancellation fee from being paid."
It is that kind of extremes in behavior that led Kokonas to stop taking telephone reservations and switch to restaurant ticketing software.
The Cure: Restaurant Ticketing Software
In an interview with Eater, Kokonas spoke at length about his experience with selling tickets in lieu of telephone reservations and let slip some eyebrow raising dollar amounts:
Next can sell $3 million worth of season tickets within just a couple of hours, and altogether the restaurants have sold more than $20 million worth of tickets
Further more, to address what some restaurant owners cite as a barrier to ticket adoption, Kokonas scoffs at the idea of anyone refusing to buy a ticket:
There have been some people that have said to me, 'I'll never come to your restaurant because I have to buy a ticket.' And I go, 'Awesome.' Because the person basically just told me, 'I could never make a commitment to going a certain night and I cancel all the time.' So I've just eliminated exactly the person I want to eliminate.
It is important to note that some online reservations systems prompt for a credit card and then withhold a small dollar amount, typically $25. But those online table reservation systems are not designed to collect the total amount up-front, and cannot function as an event ticket distribution method. It may seem a "polite middle ground" to ask for a small deposit to quell no-shows, but that is not in the best interests of the restaurant or its guests.
If you are serving a prix fixe menu, the opportunity is there to ask for a full commitment from your guests as they make a reservation online. They are already on your website, with credit card in hand, going through the steps to make an online table reservation for $25 - is that paltry "promise to appear" amount enough to let the table sit idle for hours should they fail to show-up?
Nightly Deposits & No More Wasting Food
Even if you are not using a prix fixe menu, implementing a pre-paid ticket system during your peak times could save you thousands of dollars by staving off no-shows. And should you implement online ticketing for reservations, make sure it can accept and process the full amount of what a table is worth during "prime time" dinner service.
ThunderTix restaurant event ticketing software lets you leave no-shows behind and sell tickets in advance just like Next restaurant in Chicago. And we make nightly deposits of your sales dollars directly into your bank account, giving you the liquidity to buy only what you need for the menu – no waste.
When you say “table d’hôte” we know what you mean. In addition to being the most restaurant friendly ticketing software available, know that ThunderTix has years of experience in enabling venues to sell tickets online. You will inherit all that expertise when you decide to make the move from telephone reservation to selling tickets, either all-at-once or gradually. Be sure to take a look at our other features and sign up for a free trial today!