A UK advertising campaign is coming to the aid of struggling restaurants in an attempt to highlight the impact of 'no-shows' on their businesses, and to urge customers to be more thoughtful since restaurants re-opened.
Manchester hospitality businesses have been sharing the hashtag #nomorenoshows urging people to cancel well ahead if they cannot honour a booking. Support for the campaign has since spread around the country with four hundred and fifty billboards being displayed across Greater Manchester and London, and businesses from around the UK joining in the appeal.
Initial enthusiasm for a return to dining out on 4 July in the UK has become increasingly plagued by no-shows, which are even more prominent in the 'new normal'. It comes at a time where restaurants are already taking a hit on covers while managing increased health and safety measures and business risk.
UK chefs like Tom Kerridge have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks, calling out no-shows and communicating the issue publicly, while citing facts and figures. Big Hospitality UK notes that a quarter of online bookings never turn up, costing the industry £16bn.
Last week St John restaurant in London introduced a no-show charge to mitigate financial risk and loss.
Ghosting or bailing at the 11th hour has always been a problem in the industry, but with the current onus on business owners to reduce covers, increase social distancing, and rely less on walk-ins, the impact is tangible for struggling businesses working on tight margins and reduced capacity.
Back in 2013, Rene Redzepi famously ignited a no-show debate saying it was a huge problem in the trade and sending a very visual public message to a table of no shows. In 2014 Matt Orlando took up the mantle writing an open letter to no-show diners explaining: “For anybody out there that is not aware of the financial gains of most restaurants, the profit margins are minimal so an empty table really hurts most restaurants.”
Booking deposits, email and text reminders, and a courtesy phone call are all ways of building a customer's commitment to the booking. OpenTable will de-activate a user's account if they accumulate four no-show bookings in the same twelve-month period. No-show blacklists and cancellation fees can help restaurants navigate some of the problems of no-shows, but all detract from the day job and the sense of hospitality.
Reservation cancellation fees are nothing new and can persuade customers to take their reservation more seriously. But managing the security of data and collecting the payment adds another layer of complexity to the daily running of a restaurant. Whether it's penalty fees on one side, or no-shows on the other, the relationship between restaurants and consumers has never ben so strained.
Is there a simple solution to the no-show customer ? Let us know on our facebook page.