4 Tips to Reduce Restaurant No-Shows

Since hospitality venues were able to reopen, the sector has experienced a spike in dining and restaurant no-shows. But what can you do to reduce no-shows in your venue? CPL Learning offers our most effective tips for operators.

As hospitality businesses across the UK continue in their reopening efforts amidst heightened hygiene and changes to operations to support COVID measures, the problem of no-shows to bookings can cause problems. As many businesses are running their operation at a reduced capacity, every cover counts. And no-shows can mean a lot in terms of lost business, according to Big Hospitality UK a quarter of online bookings never turn up, costing the industry £16bn.

The public information campaign #nomorenoshows has aimed to educate the public and urge them to cancel well ahead if they cannot honour a booking. But what can operators do to help reduce no-shows?

Our new free learning activity has been produced in collaboration with sector experts Sixty Eight People and Kinship Hospitality to help hospitality operators implement actions to reduce the number of no-shows.

1.  Train your teams

Dealing with the issue of no-shows starts with your teams. Anyone who takes or manages bookings needs to know the importance of no-shows to the business and how to help mitigate the risk from the very first step. Taking care to get appropriate details, for example, a full name, email address and phone number will give you more opportunity to confirm the booking or send a reminder later on.

Our learning activity Best Operation Practice – No More No Shows explains what no-shows are, what is driving up the level and why it is an important issue for operators.

How to reduce no-shows at your restaurant

The latest CGA Business Confidence Survey reveals operators remain deeply pessimistic about market prospects and the future of their own businesses.

Earlier this week CGA released details from their latest Business Confidence Survey providing insight into the concerns of hospitality bosses. Following a hugely popular webinar on the subject delivered on Wednesday 7th May, CGA have revealed more insights from the survey.

The survey reveals that operators remain deeply pessimistic about both market prospects and the future of their own businesses, with a third (32%) of senior executives anticipating the need to permanently close sites.

Bosses across Britain are now actively engaged in post lockdown planning, although the majority don’t expect to reopen until June or July, if allowed and possibly taking a phased approach.

The poll of over 120 senior executives and entrepreneurs was conducted by CGA, in association with hospitality technology specialist Fourth, during the week beginning April 20.

2.  Confirm the booking   

What is your current booking process like? Digital technology makes a lot of things easier, but online bookings are more likely to no-show, so bear this in mind if your operation takes a lot of online bookings.

If your process is online, what information is captured and how smooth is the process? As above, capturing all the appropriate details will give you more opportunities to confirm the booking and should end with the customer receiving a confirmation of the booking by email or text.

If you confirm bookings by email, this could be a good opportunity to share some of the things your venue is doing to be COVID secure. This can help your customers feel more confident, both in the safety of visiting and of expectations of what the visit will entail. In particular, if any of your operations have changed since reopening that might be different from a customer’s visit pre-lockdown.

3. Do your guests need a reminder?

Your guests may be booking quite far ahead of the date of their visit, and in this case, it’s a very good idea to send a booking reminder closer to the time. Some guests may genuinely forget, or circumstances have changed and contacting your venue to let you know isn’t their main priority. However, if you send guests a booking reminder, this will often prompt a reminder to cancel a booking that is no longer needed. Especially if you include a way to cancel the booking online to make the process simpler for the guest.

You might also consider how you send a booking reminder. Email is a great option, because it is easy and inexpensive, but bear in mind that emails can inadvertently end up in junk folders and never be seen. A text is less likely to get lost but may be a bit more of an expensive option if you have a lot of bookings to follow up. A phone call is great because it gives you the chance to give a more personal experience and allows more flexibility i.e. to rebook at a different time or date rather than cancel altogether.

You’ll need to think about what process will work best for your teams and your operation, but once you have a standard process for all team members to follow, you should see a decrease in any no-shows.

4. Communication is key   

When you create a bond between you and your guest, the booking is less likely to result in a no-show. This can be achieved by consistently using your branding and tone of voice in any communications, even if you use a third-party booking app. Make sure any communication is as personalised as possible, referring to the customer’s name and specific date and time of their booking are more likely to ensure a reliable confirmation.

A phone call to confirm your guest still plans to attend is often the most effective communication method. Our new learning activity supports your team members in communicating effectively with guests throughout the booking process to reduce and mitigate losses.

You can also check out the video below to find out how to reduce no-shows through smart communication.

Find out more about the newest free learning activity from CPL Learning, Best Operational Practice – No More No Shows.

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