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We recently introduced you to a restaurateur whose business was being slowly decimated by reservation no-shows. Most people in the industry, from small bistros to Michelin–starred restaurants will tell you reservation no–shows are one of the biggest problems affecting the restaurant business today – remember chef Matt Orlando and his open letter on the subject? Well, the French online restaurant reservations provider LaFourchette may have the answer.
LaFourchette (from Trip Advisor) discovered through their own research that 10% of diners admit to having not turned up for a reservation with no prior warning. So, they've introduced an SMS cancellation system that allows users to cancel a booking simply and inpersonally (they also found that 18% of people felt uncomfortable about cancelling a booking), and also send out SMS reminders three hours before a reservation.
SMS reminders won’t prevent the problem of option bookings of course, where diners deliberately book several restaurants for the same sitting, so LaFourchette are also helping restaurateurs by building profiles of users and flagging persistent bad apples, and are even considering introducing financial penalties for no-shows and insisting that users provide credit card and/or fingerprint details at the time of booking.
LaFourchette say reservation no–shows have decreased by 23% following the introduction of some of these measures, but the persistent trouble with this debate is how far do you go before you start putting diners off completely?