Debunking 5 Myths About Accepting Restaurant Reservations

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October 12, 2023
Two diners are reviewing the menu at a restaurant where they made a reservation.

Why don’t some restaurants take reservations? The hospitality industry has heard this question (and complaint) from customers before. Most explanations for not guaranteeing a table are based on myths and outdated business philosophies that are losing steam. Let’s debunk 5 myths about not accepting restaurant reservations.

Debunking 5 Myths About Accepting Restaurant Reservations

Myth #1: Taking reservations leads to no-shows and latecomers.

Sure, this situation can create havoc at the hostess stand but, there is a modern solution. Multiple industries charge customers a fee if they fail to honor a scheduled appointment. Restauranteurs can adopt this practice as well. With the right table reservation system, restaurants can require security deposits, offer pre-payment options, and implement cancellation fees to reduce no-shows.

Myth #2: Taking a reservation benefits the customer more than my business.

Not true! All the information customers provide during the online reservation process provides you with a goldmine of data. Leverage reservation data to better understand guests, generate loyalty, effectively allocate marketing dollars, and personalize the dining experience. Some reservation systems don't let you keep your customer's data, so do your homework before committing to any long-term contracts. 

A server is assisting a couple who booked an online restaurant reservation.

Myth #3: Investing in a reservation system will never deliver an ROI.

Speaking of contracts, if you select a reservation system that charges service fees, maintenance fees, and commission fees, yes, it is difficult to offset revenue generated by diners. Good news — there are reservation platforms on the market that don't follow this pricing model. Our partners at Libro, for example, offer an affordable monthly subscription that is easy to budget, and they never charge restaurant operators a service fee when a guest books a table. 

Myth #4: Accepting reservations won't impact online reviews.

A modern reservation platform gives restauranteurs the ability to do more than fill tables. Industry-leading online reservation systems include automated guest surveys and reputation management tools to acquire reviews more effectively. Online reviews not only showcase your restaurant's stellar service and food but also attract new customers, improve search rankings for your website, and increase sales. Even if you don't receive a five-star review from every customer, you can use the feedback to make improvements, keep a pulse on the overall dining experience, and address customer complaints.

A restaurant customer is leaving a positive review after making an online reservation.

Myth #5: Taking reservations does nothing for the back-of-house.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Plenty of restaurant managers will agree that accepting reservations is tremendously helpful for staffing the kitchen properly and scheduling the correct number of servers to work the dining room floor. Reservations also help control operational costs, the flow of tickets into the kitchen, and food waste. It doesn't matter if you're an independent establishment or a Michelin-star restaurant, exceeding food and labor costs can tank profitability for the night or the month.

The Missed Opportunities of Not Accepting Reservations

The art of convenience plays a major role in delighting today’s diners, and that includes putting systems in place that make it easy for them to do business with you. Not taking reservations is the quickest way to send hungry patrons to your competitor’s dining room, but that isn’t the only opportunity that you are missing out on. By not taking reservations, you are missing the opportunity to collect valuable data and enhance the guest experience. Let’s explore each of these missed opportunities.

Leverage Data to Grow Your Restaurant Business

When a customer makes an online reservation, they are providing you with valuable data like their name and email — the key components for email marketing. Don’t overlook the power of syncing a reservation list to a marketing list and sending customized emails to stay top of mind. But, you should only do this if you include an email opt-in option when customers make their reservation. Customer retention and loyalty are key to a restaurant’s longevity and success. 

Enhance the Guest Experience.

Today’s diners wants to feel like a VIP and be in control. Allowing guests to reserve a table online (or join a digital waiting list) is a positive first step toward curating a memorable dining experience. When diners receive a highly personalized experience and stellar service, they are more likely to share positive reviews, visit again, and leave generous tips.

A hostess is ready to greet customers with a reservation.

Final Thoughts on Accepting Restaurant Reservations

When dining rooms were forced to close during the pandemic, restaurateurs re-discovered the valuable benefits of digital technology and automation. Consumers discovered the benefits of doing everything online too, and that includes making a reservation at their favorite restaurant. Not implementing a digital strategy that encompasses reservations, guest relations, and tools to manage your online reputation puts the future of your restaurant at risk. 

To future-proof your restaurant with an affordable, all-in-one tech stack that can manage reservations and build a highly personalized and profitable dining experience, reach out to our partners at Libro

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October 2023


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