How to Use Online Tools to Control No-shows and Late Cancellations
No-shows and late cancellations can be a nightmare for restaurants especially since you know with advance warning the diners could have been replaced. This form of loss in revenue is one most restaurants will experience at some point in their lifetime. And in recent times online booking technology has been blamed for the large percentage of no-shows from online bookings.
But this same technology can also be utilized to prevent no-shows and cancellations. There are certain circumstances that are difficult to navigate and you may never be able to fill all tables every day. But the following measures can help you reduce the number of cancellations you experience;
- Make Your Cancellation Policy Very Clear
The first step is to have a very clear cancellation policy that can be displayed either on the restaurant’s website or on the webpage on the online booking service you use. Make sure that your customers and potential customers are aware of the cancellation window and penalties they may incur for late arrivals or late cancellations. It is also important to take every opportunity to ensure that your customers are familiar with your policy. For example, you may present them with the policy as soon as they make a reservation or every time you send them a reminder of their reservation.
- Send an Email Confirmation of the Booking
Ensure that your service sends an email to the customer confirming the booking. Some online booking tools will even send the customer an SMS to confirm the booking. Many will ensure the email or SMS is customized to your branding and colors. The main purpose of this confirmation is to eliminate booking mistakes regarding time and date that can also cause no-shows and cancellations.
- Call to Confirm the Booking
While it may not always be possible, it is important to take the time to follow up the reservation with a phone call. If you have too many customers, this may not be practical. But if you can, calling to confirm the reservation may go a long way in preventing a cancellation and the customer will appreciate it very much.
- Reserve the Right to Block Repeat Offenders
Even with all of these reminders, recognize that some people will fail to turn up. If the same customer is a no-show once or twice, you may put it down as unforeseen circumstances. But you want to be wary of repeat offenders; people who book reservations every other day and fail to show up. These people are causing you to lose revenue significantly. Fortunately, with online booking systems, there is something you can do. For example, ResDiary allows you to block these repeat offenders, ensuring they can never reserve your restaurant online.
With most people choosing to reserve restaurants online, there is increased risk or no-shows. But the same technology gives you adequate follow-up options to help reduce the risk and you begin by having a clear cancellation policy.