What happens without online table reservations?

by John Jones | Sep 05, 2022

Here at Favouritetable we speak with a lot of restaurant owners who want to know about our software, and why they should use it. In some instances they already have software in their restaurant and are thinking of changing because their current supplier doesn't offer no-commission bookings, or simply is not the best for their business. 

Others have a system in place, but modern it is not. Bits of paper, pads, spreadsheets, pens and post-it notes serve as their process and – and here's the strange thing – very often it works fine. Sure, we wince a little at the security implications but in truth many restaurants have been using paper-based systems for generations, to good effect. Moreover, we're very aware that the availability of modern software is not reason enough to swap out an entire way of doing things. Modern is great, but modern and functional is better. 

Ian, our sales manager, prefers to point out to customers what they're missing by not having a modern table ordering system rather than belittle their existing methods. The brutal truth of the current trading environment is that restaurants need their software to step up to the plate and provide rock-hard benefits over and above what can be achieved without it. 

So, here is Ian's list of what can happen when restaurateurs don't have a modern table ordering system: 

Double bookings

We've all been there: double bookings. Two customers arrive, we go through the embarrassing apology process, rush around trying to make alternative arrangements or tables, and then give away something for free as an olive branch. After that the internal fights begin as staff and management blame each other, the system and frankly anything for the failure. Yet, after all that stress and anxiety, the restaurant finds it cannot eliminate double bookings and they happen again and again. 

Online restaurant reservation systems will eliminate double bookings, period, because – and we won't bore you with how those clever software design people do it – the best software simply won't allow it. No more angry customers, profit-eating freebies, damaged reputations and internal witch-hunts.  

Ghost bookings

We're not sure which are worse, double bookings or no reservation at all. Having a customer arrive at the restaurant only to find their booking doesn't exist will only ever cause reputational damage and a lot of frantic shuffling of tables on the day. 

Without a fool-proof table management system, restaurants are reliant on physical paper notes which can go missing (often for good). Software will eliminate that problem too, because not only is the booking process hard-coded into the system's behind-the-scenes engineering (thanks again to those clever software designers) but the associated data is there forever. 

Lack of data 

While we're on the subject, let's have a quick discussion about data. In the software world, much is made of data and technical people can become a little excited by all those ones and zeroes which whiz around in the background to make the software sing. But restaurants, we're pretty sure, are not too bothered about  the technical aspects of data because they just need access to reliable statistics and information in order to make better decisions. 

Your Favouritetable blogger is known for his automotive analogies, so here's one: in motorsport, performance improvement and winning are all about data. In the old days, the team's drivers would go around a race circuit and make a mental note of where they could do better, by taking a different line here, going faster there or braking earlier. It was an iterative process and would take a long time to establish. Then, along comes a data-driven approach where team managers can actually see the real-time performance data of the car and driver, analyse it and make operational improvements for a better lap time. 

Without access to a data-driven audit trail, restaurant managers are unable to see what went wrong and caused the ghost booking, so are unable to take robust actions to stop it happening again. 

Having a rich source of data isn't just great for eliminating double and phantom bookings, however. With the best restaurant reservation systems, you have an indelible record of customers' loyalty, spend, likes and dislikes and a host of other essential information to help interact with them in the future. 

Customer loss

Now, more than ever, would-be diners want to book online. The way customers interact with their favourite brands has changed forever, so unless your restaurant is so exclusive that booking requires customers to knock three times and ask for Alain, without it customers really will go elsewhere. 

The reality of the fast-driven world in which we live means that customer expectations have changed, which means that restaurants resistant to online reservation systems are losing revenue and profit. The reasons for such resistance are many, but in truth some restaurant owners are simply wary of ditching the old and introducing the new – and we get that. The best systems, however, are really intuitive, easy to install and use, plus deliver benefits which restaurateurs will quickly not want to lose. 

Lost upsell opportunities

We all know that times are tough for restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars. It is a dog-eat-dog world out there and rising costs coupled with changes in consumer habits mean that margins are tight. One of the questions Ian gets asked all the time is “will your system help me make more money?” to which his answer is always positive. 

Why? Because not only will the best online table booking system help bring in solid new bookings and eliminate erroneous ones, it can promote add-on sales. When customers go online to book their next restaurant experience, it is the ideal time to tempt them with upsell opportunities in order to create more revenue per head. Modern software allows bookers to opt for additional food and drink, take advantage of special offers and be enticed to spend more. 

Every penny counts right now, so without online table reservations you're loosing potential revenue.

Wrapping up

Restaurants can survive pretty well with tried-and-tested booking methods such as pen & paper and there is no need for them to switch to a software-driven approach just for the sake of modernity. 

However, customer expectations have changed such that bookings will be lost to competitors if they cannot reserve their tables over the internet. 

There are huge operational and financial benefits of introducing an online table reservation system, and once installed most will never go back to manual methods.

Favouritetable is restaurant management software which includes a range of tools to eliminate errors, increase revenue and interact better with online customers.



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