The rise of the restaurant no-shows: what can the industry do to combat it?

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

As the number of people booking tables and then not showing up increases we ask how big a problem is it for the restaurant sector and what can the industry do to guard against it? 

In this audio piece, chef and restaurant owner Malcolm John and Will Holland, chef-patron of La Becasse in Ludlow talk to BigHospitality about their own experiences and give their opinions about how the restaurant sector can protect itself. 

What do you think the sector can do? Is taking a customer's credit card details at booking the answer or are there other solutions? 

Have you had experiences of this? Please leave a comment below if so.

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Deposits are the answer.

Posted by Cream,

We charge a £5 deposit for parties of 8 or more. A few people moan about this practice but they are reminded that the deposit comes off their bill total and that if they cancel in advance the full deposit is refunded.
We try and ring smaller parties on the day of the booking to minimize no-shows NOT to pander to Trudat's attitude but to protect our livelihood from people like him.

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incentive not punishment

Posted by ali berry,

Better to offer an incentive for the customer to confirm their party is still coming - suggest that if they call say, on the morning of the reservation to confirm, you'll give them each a (small!) glass of house wine on arrival? AND ALWAYS ASK ON THAT CALL IF THEY PREFER RED OR WHITE. It makes no odds as you'll have both on hand anyway but it sets a subliminal psychological 'contract' in place that you are already serving them, thus creating an emotional resistance to their backing out. They'll also be less likely to 'not turn up' if there's a freebie - and word will spread about your generosity. Also, you can encourage them to relax at the bar or a side-seating area with that drink, & use the extra time to improve in-out flow; present menus, wine lists, introduce waiting staff etc to make them feel REALLY welcome. And perhaps its a selling opportunity - get the wine waiter to chat to them, & recommend another wine to be served at table. Or even introduce a loyalty-card reward scheme for bookers who call to confirm and do turn up early or on time.

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incentive not punishment

Posted by ali berry,

Better to offer an incentive for the customer to confirm their party is on its way - suggest that if they call say, 20 mins before booked time to confirm, you'll give them each a (small!) glass of house wine on arrival? They'll be less likely to 'not turn up' if there's a freebie and word will spread about your generosity. Also, you can encourage them to relax at the bar or a side-seating area with that drink, & use the extra time to improve in-out flow; present menus, wine lists, introduce waiting staff etc to make them feel REALLY welcome. And perhaps its a selling opportunity - get the wine waiter to chat to them, & recommend another wine to be served at table. Or even introduce a loyalty-card reward scheme for bookers who call to confirm and do turn up early or on time.

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