Does this look like a solution to the reservation no-show problem?

reservation no-show problem

Some restaurants have stopped taking reservations to stave off no shows. But not taking reservations results in a long line of customers waiting for a table. Does the photo above look like a customer friendly solution to the reservation no-show problem? There is a better way - sell tickets!

To Queue or Not to Queue

Food Arts magazine

September 2013 issue of Food Arts magazine

The controversy surrounding the restaurant reservation no-show problem continues. Everyone from super star chefs, to restaurant owners, to the diners themselves have all been atop their respective soapboxes offering up a solution to the problem. The latest proposed solution comes from a very authoritative source....

Food Arts Magazine - the gold standard of the restaurant industry - is known for keeping its readers on the cutting edge with authoritative coverage of trends, news. One of Food Arts contributing editors, respected restaurant critic Bryan Miller, has published a feature article on the problem of no-shows.

Miller's 'To Queue or Not To Queue?' examines the reservation no-show problem in great detail, chronicling the plight of owner and diner alike. Outside the industry, few are aware of just how financially damaging reservation no-shows can be to a restaurant's bottom line. Nobu in Manhattan’s TriBeCa is hit with 40 no-shows a night according to Miller. Nobu's owner says that a couple of no-shows can mean the difference between profit and loss for a 25 seat restaurant.

Miller applies his industry expertise to each of the various, and sometimes extreme, actions taken by restaurant owners desperate to stave off no-shows. As the article's title implies, one of those actions is abandoning telephone reservations all together and invoking a walk-in only policy. But the walk-in only policy results in customers having to wait in long lines for a table, which may ultimately cause customers to go to another restaurant entirely.

After closely examining each of the solutions to solve the reservation no-show problem, Miller writes:

The newest and most radical gambit [for restaurants] is selling tickets to be redeemed at a later date, such as at a ball game or a Justin Bieber concert. Only a handful of places have tried this, all successfully so far. And judging from the reaction in the industry, and the teeming frustration with no-shows, it may well catch on. - Bryan Miller

Next restaurant in Chicago has found great success in selling tickets for each of it dining experiences. In fact tickets to Next restaurant are so sought after, a secondary re-sale market has formed, just like rock concert tickets.

A Gradual Transition To Selling Tickets

If you are a restaurant owner, Bryan Miller's 'To Queue or Not To Queue?' is highly recommended reading. Should you come to the conclusion that selling tickets represents the best solution to the no-show problem, it is important to note that tickets are not an all or nothing proposition.

Too often, restaurant owners discount the idea of selling tickets because they assume they must commit to doing so all at once - but that is not the case.

A gradual transition to selling tickets can be made based on the restaurant owner's knowledge and experience. For example, if there is one night in the week when demand routinely exceeds capacity, that is an excellent scenario for selling tickets. The high demand night can be made a pre-pay, ticketed experience, leaving the rest of the week any combination of telephone reservations and walk-ins.

In addition to solving the reservation no-show problem, restaurants sell tickets to have much needed working capital (aka “ liquidity”) up front, in advance of the dining experience. Traditional venue owners, like nightclubs, have always enjoyed getting their money up front from ticket sales (imagine their reaction to the idea of patrons paying after the show is over!). All that up front revenue helps pay the costs of producing the event weeks ahead of time. A restaurant selling tickets can rest easy knowing they already have the cash in the bank days, even weeks, ahead of time, and that let's the owner focus on creating a great dining experience.

ThunderTix is the Solution to the Reservation No-Show Problem

Bryan Miller thinks selling tickets in lieu of telephone reservations is a solution to the reservation no-show problem - but exactly how does the busy restaurant owner make the switch?

ThunderTix can help you start selling tickets online in as little as one business day with no long-term contract commitments. We  make credit card processing with 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 helping venues to sell tickets online. You will inherit our expertise when you make the move from telephone reservation to selling tickets, either all-at-once or gradually. If you would like help planning the transition, or have specific questions about selling tickets at your restaurant, please contact us at your convenience.