Booking websites damage restaurants’ revenue

Posted on News Sep 2012 - by Tandoori Editor
Booking websites damage restaurants’ revenue


In an industry where low profit margins are common, the number of unfulfilled table reservations is growing and according to a number of high-profile restaurateurs and industry experts, this is due to the increased use of online reservation sites. This problem is also prevalent on sites where it is possible for customers to accumulate reward points without having to satisfy their reservation.

Zak Jones owner of Chancery Restaurant, London said, “Restaurant no-shows have enraged me for years… Unfortunately in my experience, websites like top table seemed to attract a high percentage of these no-shows and is where most of our problems stemmed from... when people book a table online for a large party, they often arrive in a smaller group without informing the restaurant or they don’t turn up at all. If the restaurant does not follow up and alert top table that the client failed to turn up, the client receives the points and the restaurant is charged a booking fee per person for that booking. Another rather infuriating aspect is the fact the restaurant is forbidden to contact the diner via email”

The cost of using booking websites can cost restaurants as much as £2,000 a month, this coupled with the loss of revenue suffered with no –shows can be extremely damaging. Zak Jones’ feelings towards the damaging aspects of booking sites are backed up by Mark Poynton, chef-patron of restaurant Alimentum, Cambridge, “This year alone we’ve had 43 tables not show up, which equates to over 100 people and about £7,000 in revenue” he said.

There are, however, a few ways in which restaurants can combat this problem. Guy Halfhead, vice president of sales for reservations site Livebookings suggests restaurants… “Be clear in your communications… [and] make the cancelation policy an upfront part of your booking system, with SMS confirmation or an e-mail reminder, so that customers know how important it is” He also suggests, “be quick to turn cancelled tables back into available tables.” Jones from the Chancery adds, “try to get an email address to send them confirmation… it becomes a lot more formal”

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