The tempo at which tables turn each night can be a harmonious sonata or a cacophonous racket if guest arrival is erratic. To keep a steady pace of diners, some restaurants reserve a certain percentage of their tables for reservations with the remaining spots saved for ‘walk ins’. This not only keeps customers from waiting and staff appropriately busy, but also maintains the appearance of a bustling restaurant throughout the evening. If you do choose to take reservations, what method is right for your establishment?
Services like OpenTable tend to cater towards more adventurous, forward-thinking crowds who try out new spots regularly. On the flipside, reservations made through a restaurant’s website makes sense for passionate regulars. Consider your full clientele, both regulars and aspirational diners, before establishing a reservation system for your restaurant.
These aren’t your only options though. Lately, restaurants are experimenting with various new techniques to handle reservations. Technology has provided operators with the ability to use prepaid tickets, iPad apps and reservations via phone/website.
More and more restaurants are seeing success by testing out these non-traditional methods and finding what works best for them. Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz of Alinea, Next and the Aviary pioneered the prepaid ticket approach, ultimately choosing it over traditional reservation systems. Kokonas described the results of ticket implementation as “staggering”, with the occurrence of no shows decreasing from 11.8% to less than one percent.
Regardless of what works best for your business, you should stay aware of the technological advancements that are reaching consumers. According to NRA consumer research, well over half of the U.S. adults (63%) have used restaurant-related technologies. Tapping into this behavior will help you to fill your restaurant consistently. Whether you choose prepaid ticketing, website reservations or an innovative app, finding the right system can streamline your business.