How to reduce restaurant no-shows

No-shows continue to frustrate and cause significant problems for restaurants. It’s one of the most common – and troublesome – issues eateries of all sizes face, from family-run independent businesses to well-known brands with multiple locations. Diners failing to attend can cause revenue disruptions and booking headaches. While there may be nothing more disappointing than an empty table as a result of a guest failing to fulfil their booking, there are ways to combat no-shows. That’s the purpose of this guide, which looks at how restaurants can reduce restaurant no-shows and maximise bookings.

Take advantage of pre-paid bookings

You can incentivise diners to show up to your restaurant by taking pre-paid bookings with credit card requirements. It’s not uncommon for guests to book a table and then forget about the reservation – sometimes, they just need a greater reason to remember.

Guests are more likely to fulfil a reservation if they provide card details prior to the booking and are aware that any last-minute no-shows may result in a cancellation fee. Asking for a prepayment also helps separate the diners who intend on showing up from ones making casual plans they might not follow up with. By receiving payment in advance of a booking, you can help mitigate potential lost revenue resulting from restaurant no-shows.

Offer incentives with Experiences

Give diners even more reason to prepay with OpenTable’s Experiences. Guests will receive a unique restaurant experience offering them something different from a regular meal, which can help incentivise them to pay in advance to secure their booking.

From tasting menus to cooking classes and more, you can curate a dining experience your guests won’t forget. Experiences can be beneficial around holidays, such as the festive period, when restaurants are in higher demand and guests look for alternatives from the norm. Committed diners will be more open to paying upfront if they know it guarantees them a table with a meal experience they can get excited about.

Combatting Covid no-shows

The landscape looks more promising for restaurants, with more than 49 million people vaccinated with their first dose – life is beginning to resemble some form of normality again. But there’s still anxiety from a handful of guests who are sitting on the fence about whether or not to dine out while Covid is still present.

That apprehension could see them having a change of heart after initially booking a table and end up becoming a no-show. It doesn’t need to be that way, though, and conveying the message that you’re committed to minimising the spread of Covid at your restaurant can boost confidence levels in diners and stop them from hitting the cancel button or just not showing up.

Be transparent about safety precautions and the efforts you’re making to keep the restaurant clean. You can do this by uploading information to your OpenTable profile about the restaurants’ safety measures, from showing that you sanitise surfaces between table use to cleaning menus for every guest. Clarity over how you operate while Covid is still a risk can give guests more confidence to book a table and show up for a great meal.

Personalise your service

Building a loyal customer base can help reduce restaurant no-shows as diners become regulars at your restaurant. One of the best ways to do this involves following up with guests after they’ve dined at your spot with personalised marketing communications.

It may be that you decide to offer special deals for regular diners as a thank you for their loyalty. Or you might generate regular communications to people on your email list as a way to stay in their thoughts and build the relationship.

Taking this route can boost trust in your spot, with people feeling a stronger connection to the staff and your restaurant. The result is likely to be increased loyalty, leading to repeat bookings and fewer no-shows.

Send notifications

There’s nothing wrong with sending a helpful nudge every now and then reminding guests they have a table booked at your restaurant. People are busy, and it may simply be a case of them making a reservation and forgetting about it.

With OpenTable, you can coordinate helpful reminders so guests receive them promptly and don’t forget about their booking. An SMS confirmation will head to their phone, letting them know they’ve made a reservation and reduce restaurant no-shows.

Another handy option involves creating a customised booking policy message that ensures guests understand the commitment they’re making. Label the terms and conditions, highlight factors such as cancellation policies as well as other relevant information to the booking. Providing diners with these details shows transparency from your side and lets them know how operations work at your restaurant.

No more no-shows

It might seem like the dreaded no-show could happen at any time, but you can reduce the number of people failing to turn up to your restaurant with these tips. And using OpenTable helps incentivise diners to fulfil their reservations with unique pre-paid Experiences and customisable booking policies, turning your restaurant into a full house rather than a place with empty tables.