Restaurant booking systems can help hospitality businesses solve the important challenge of attracting and taking bookings, whether that’s online, over the phone, or in your venue. But nowadays, the best systems can provide solutions for a wide range of problems while the benefits can also be far more holistic.
In this article, we’ll discuss the most common reasons we hear at ResDiary, when people come to us for help with their restaurant, bar, hotel, or event venue.
The challenges widely vary, as you can imagine, which is why it is important to choose the solution with the right features to suit your needs. That’s why we’ll share valuable insights from our Ultimate Guide on Restaurant Booking Systems.
Of course, every business is different and we’ll only be talking about the most common challenges in this article. So, don’t worry if you’re struggling with a problem that doesn’t appear on this list; you can always ask us anything more specific and we’ll be happy to help.
“We don’t have the staff to man the phone at all times and could miss a lot of booking opportunities.”
Every time someone walks through your door or calls your venue, that’s an opportunity to make revenue for your business. So, when those opportunities are missed for whatever reason, you’re basically letting that revenue walk away - most likely to one of your competitors.
This can be even more damaging if these are the only ways that customers can book in your venue.
We understand it can be hard to ensure that somebody is always there to welcome a walk-in customer or answer the phone when it rings. This is especially true in light of staff-shortages being a major problem for hospitality venues in recent months. Our own analysis shows that almost two thirds (64%) of restaurants are still currently looking to fill staff vacancies.
There’s a good chance your staff are already too busy serving the customers you have to man the door and the phone at all times too. Plus, what happens when somebody wants to book when you’re closed? Will they be happy to leave a message and hope for a call back or will they look elsewhere?
The good news is that a restaurant booking system can help by making it easy for customers to book online at any time. That way, your venue is always ready to welcome new bookings, regardless of whether you’re running a busy service or even if you’re closed.
There’s even better news too, as we also know that customers actually prefer to book online!
“We know people want to book online whenever they want but our website doesn’t have the option.”
It’s true that more diners now prefer to research a restaurant or a bar and make their booking directly online. Our own analysis shows that for evening dining, half (48%) of diners make a reservation at least a week or more in advance.
That’s great news for your business because it means most of your bookings can be made without any interaction or effort required from your front-of-house staff. However, it does prove how vitally important it is for your website to offer the functionality to make online booking as easy as possible for your customers.
A restaurant booking system like ResDiary works by adding a widget to your website where customers can search for available slots and make a reservation. That information is then fed through to your system where the booking is saved and the details can be seen by your team.
With ResDiary, you can also style the look and feel of your widget to fit in with your brand, providing a seamless experience to your customers, while saving you the need to rely on manually taking bookings over the phone or in person.
We have a client who runs a thriving restaurant group with dozens of venues across multiple brands. They said that around 50% of their bookings are currently made online across the group, providing a constant stream of customers without any effort from their central booking team.
“We know we need to increase our presence online but don’t know how to.”
Adding the functionality to allow customers to book on your website is just one piece of the online puzzle for hospitality venues. Many businesses who seek our help are also eager to amplify their online presence in order to attract more customers.
A restaurant booking system like ResDiary can help you broaden your online opportunities by syncing with search engines like Reserve with Google, and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.
This means that your restaurant booking system can support your marketing efforts by giving potential diners the opportunity to book when they’re most likely to be attracted to your venue.
With ResDiary’s Promotions feature, you can also create special offers to entice diners, which you can promote online.
A great way to get seen by more dedicated diners and food fanatics is to showcase your venue on Dish Cult. Dish Cult, powered by ResDiary, is a diner-facing booking platform for remarkable restaurant recommendations. The desktop and mobile app puts your restaurant in front of more diners, simplifies the booking process, and even rewards them every time they dine out.
As you can see, a restaurant booking system like ResDiary, seriously helps you maximise your marketing efforts and increase your online presence.
“Using pen and paper to manage bookings is too messy and we often find mistakes.”
Restaurant booking systems are often implemented to replace the old-fashioned ways of managing bookings. This was certainly the case 20 years ago when ResDiary first began and, believe it or not, it’s still the case for many venues now.
We’ve already discussed how they can simplify and automate the process of taking bookings, but importantly, they can also streamline how you manage them.
Does your venue still rely on pen and paper to manage bookings? If so, what happens once a booking has been taken? It’s often added to a paper diary where it’ll be forgotten, until it comes to writing the seating plan for that service (probably on another sheet of paper).
Restaurant bookings systems like ResDiary are designed to do more than just take bookings. Once the booking has been made, it is automatically saved in the system and a table can also be assigned automatically too.
The beauty is, all that valuable customer information is saved whenever they book, so it’s easily accessible by your front-of-house team whenever they need it. Plus, you can learn so much more about your customers’ dining habits and market to them to entice them back to your venue, hopefully turning them into valuable regulars.
ResDiary can also integrate with your EPoS system so data on spending habits and deposits can easily be shared between them.
Let’s face it, that’s way more appealing than doing everything by hand and relying on your memory during a busy service!
“We’re not making the most of our available space at all times but it’s hard to work out the best way.”
Anyone who’s worked in hospitality will know that managing a table plan can be a real headache. Setting up is one thing, but setting up to ensure you maximise your available space is another level.
Then there’s the kitchen to account for, and not over-crowding your venue during peak times or special occasions like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and the Christmas party season.
Thankfully, a restaurant booking system can help relieve that burden by automating the way you manage your seating plan and booking availability.
With ResDiary, it’s super easy to make sure you’re getting the most out of your available space, while ensuring you can still run a smooth service.
Our platform allows you to create a table plan and set rules for things like yield (that’s how many customers you can sit at once) and available booking times. Once you’ve set the rules, ResDiary does the rest by automatically managing the available slots people can book online, assigning bookings to tables, and even linking tables for larger parties.
“We really need to reduce the amount of no-shows!”
No-show diners continue to be a problem for hospitality venues, costing UK businesses billions of pounds each year. Our recent study found that between January and February 2023 alone, no-shows were costing £1,325 to the average restaurant.
This obviously isn’t sustainable, which is why many venues are working harder to tackle the issue head on.
There are two solutions to reducing the number of no-shows in your business, both of which can be helped by installing the right restaurant booking system.
The first is sending automated customer reminders. People can often be forgetful, especially if they book way in advance. So, it is helpful to offer them a friendly reminder and, importantly, the opportunity to cancel their booking in advance.
You may be asking, “How does letting people easily cancel help my business protect its revenue?” Because a no-show diner won’t show up to their reservation either way, but by reminding them and making it easy for them to easily cancel their reservation in advance, that makes it easier for you to resell their seat.
We’ve got some great advice on setting up your customer reminders for success in our Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Booking Systems.
Deposit schemes are also increasingly popular for hospitality venues, with the most popular option being to take customers’ card details when they book and charge them if they don’t arrive.
Our data shows that of those running deposit schemes, most venues (78%) only require a deposit for bookings of a certain size – a minimum of eight covers on average.
ResDiary allows you to set simple rules for when and how deposits are required for taking bookings online, over the phone, or in person.
Card details can also be easily saved and payments can be made automatically (via our PCI-Compliant payment partner, Stripe). Plus, saving card details for repeat customers can also make the booking process all the more convenient for them!
We know introducing a deposit scheme can feel a bit uncomfortable to some business owners. Which is why we’ve also got more great advice in our Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Booking Systems.
These are the six most common reasons we hear why hospitality venues are in need of a restaurant booking system. Thankfully, as we’ve shown, systems like ResDiary can provide the features needed to solve these pressing challenges.
Even if your specific challenge wasn’t included, it is likely that it may be connected to one of the items in this list. There’s also a good chance that the solution does exist, so be sure to ask us anything and we’ll be happy to help.