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It seems that Chef Matt Orlando and his team at the Amass restaurant in Copenhagen have had enough of 'no-shows' - people who book a table only to not turn up at the restaurant and not have the courtesy to call ahead and cancel their reservation.
It’s not the first time that a chef has spoken openly about the problem caused by no-shows in the trade, Rene Redzepi and the team at Noma, where Orlando used to work, once sent a very public message to a table that didn’t arrive and didn’t cancel.
In an open letter on the Amass blog Orlando addresses the issue of people not arriving for their booking asking, “Would you schedule a doctor’s appointment and not show up? Would you schedule a hair appointment and not show up? Would you book a meeting with your bank advisor and not show up? Then why would you book a table at a restaurant and not show up?”
It’s a fair question and it’s the actual responses in the comments to the blog that really open up the debate on how restaurants can work to reduce their number of no-shows. Many, including Amass, pay into systems that notify diners 24 hours before their booking via SMS, however, one commenter claims these systems are inhumane and make it easy to feel unattached from the booking. He goes as far as to suggest that a redesign of a menu ordering system on a restaurant’s website could help to decrease the number of dreaded no-shows.
There are many suggesting that more restaurants adopt the Alinea / 41 Degrees approach of asking customers to pay for their meal when they make the reservation, something that ensures people attend their bookings but there are also the more traditional commenters who like the trust involved with a restaurant booking and don’t want to be forced to give credit card details or pay up front.
Whatever your own views on the matter, what Orlando speaks about is a problem faced across the industry. No-shows really are something that can have a negative effect on business, as he explains: “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.”
What’s your opinions on the matter? How do you deal with no-shows? Is there a perfect solution?