Posts Tagged ‘reservation policies’

Dealing with No-Shows

August 17, 2012

One of the most frustrating things that restaurants have to deal with is guests who make reservations and fail to show up for them without any notice or cancellation. Of course it is a nuisance for those responsible for booking tables, but it also causes the restaurant to lose potential revenue from guests who could be sitting at the reserved tables.

In other words, it is just as upsetting for a restaurant to have guests who do not show up for their reservations as it is for guests to find that their reservations have been forgotten or mixed up by a restaurant.

Avoiding Empty Tables

While most restaurants still just swallow the loss from forgotten reservations, some high-end restaurants are beginning to take action against these no-shows. Like most hotels where you have to use a credit card to reserve a room, some restaurants now require a credit card to make a dinner reservation. Around 10% of restaurants in the United States now have this policy, and they are reporting that their numbers of abandoned dinner reservations are dropping.

Some patrons may be uncomfortable with giving their credit card information over the phone, but restaurants can help put them at ease by clearly explaining their policies and handling any issues that arise professionally.

For some of these restaurants, the purpose of using a credit card to reserve the table is to be able to charge a fee when customers do not show up for their reservation and fail to cancel at least 24 hours in advance. Some restaurants charge up to $25 per person on the reservation. This cannot be a hidden charge or an unexpected action on the restaurant’s part, as this could be extremely upsetting for the customer. A few of these actually refund the patrons who receive these charges by giving them a gift card in the amount of the charge they incurred for abandoning their reservation.

Any restaurant that chooses to have this kind of policy must make it explicitly clear that the charge will be incurred if the customer does not cancel the reservation properly. Some restaurants do not handle their own reservations, but use an outside company to coordinate them instead. This type of company should state the restaurant’s policy clearly before the reservation is confirmed. One of these reservation companies keeps track of reservations made by individuals over time. If one person has more than four no-shows in one year, their account will be closed so that they cannot use the service anymore.

Restaurants Going Too Far

Unfortunately, some restaurants are not handling these situations quite so graciously. In the same way that many customers go online to complain about an unsatisfactory dining experience, some restaurant employees are going onto social networking sites and complaining about no-shows. Also, managers will occasionally call the person who did not show up for their reservation and demand an explanation. Clearly, these two examples are extremely unprofessional, and can do nothing but hurt the restaurant.

No matter how frustrating no-shows may be, the long-term effects of behaving unprofessionally will cause a restaurant to lose more money than having a couple of empty tables ever could.