Is it possible to get a table at a fully booked restaurant? Customers striving to attain tables at the best restaurants in their area want to get through the door — even if the venue is fully booked. Follow our guidance to help accommodate last-minute guests.
Why book a restaurant table online? Learn how to provide customers with better information in fully booked restaurants. Setting up an online reservations app is easier than you think, and can be done in less than five minutes — for free. Contact us for more.
3 Reasons Customers Contact Fully Booked Restaurants
Restaurants at max capacity will still receive booking requests from customers looking for tables. New customers want to eat out; they don’t care whether a restaurant is fully booked or not. Granted, they may know beforehand that a venue is busy, but they still try their luck and attempt to book a restaurant table because:
It is the first opening
News that a fresh business has arrived in the area generates excitement and enthusiasm for something new. The Hawes Inn in Edinburgh for instance is typical of many in the industry — a blend of Scots traditional history and a contemporary refurbishment promised a fully booked first weekend, managing 300 covers.
The food is great
This is often the story with restaurants that offer a unique guest experience. The world’s 50 best restaurants mostly have waiting lists that extend into weeks, sometimes months, ahead. Septime, a Parisian restaurant world-famous for its fair pricing and singular cuisine, strictly accepts reservations three weeks in advance due to oversubscribed seating.
The rich and the famous have visited
It’s a key part of the publicity machine, and most venues use it in their favour. Celebrity visits influence bookings. If a famous face has appeared among diners, future customers trust their tastes. This is exactly what happened when one Birmingham restaurant, a premier spot for curry dishes, witnessed max bookings after a surprise visit from an A-list actor.
Customers Have Tried to Sidestep Full Bookings
A table reservations procedure for restaurants is the least concern for hungry customers. On the customer’s side, finding out they’ve contacted a fully booked restaurant is a hassle. These customers are usually on a spontaneous night out, presuming venues can accommodate their needs on an ad hoc basis.
There’s nothing wrong with this: really, it’s a misunderstanding, a lack of realisation, among customers that restaurants are busier than they think. They misunderstand that these restaurants don’t have waitlists, neither the space, nor booking slots to accommodate sudden arrivals.
These customers are banking on their luck to get their seats. In the past this has led to:
- a confrontation or argument with the staff
- rude demands, such as VIP treatment
- an attempt to pay or bribe staff for a table
However, as GQ magazine once reported, these methods are doomed to fail. Desperate attempts to gain a table at the last minute without booking beforehand is discourteous, lacking respect for a restaurant’s time.
How Restaurants Deal With the Problem
Nevertheless, some fully booked restaurants still manage to squeeze in and accommodate last-minute customers. To oblige and make room for polite, patient last-minute guests, a maitre d’ may simply explain the average waiting time to them and offer a seat at the bar.
Especially at odd times during the day, customers have a high chance to find a seat. A fully booked restaurant may explain that new customers have a good chance to obtain tables during an off-peak period. Arriving unannounced around noon or 2pm may yield results.
A golden opportunity during the evening makes room for customers when others are leaving — 9pm say. A great proportion of diners who booked the 7:30pm slot will have finished in ninety minutes, freeing up space.
Managing no-shows or cancellations are also part of the puzzle. A full-time booking manager will know how to make these situations work, providing a warm welcome to guests who will fill missed covers.
Remember that being proactive is key — brush up and refine your customer management skills reading our guide, “How Long to Hold a Table for a Reservation No Show” reducing the number of empty tables.
The Solution — Online Reservations
Nowadays, restaurants can counter the problem with online reservations technology.
An online reservations page gives both restaurants and their guests an accurate picture of total bookings at a popular restaurant. Since it works on a real-time basis, restaurant customers no longer have to rely on blind luck to gain seats.
For restaurants themselves, a system makes the workload much easier. Staff no longer have to use a pen-and-paper notebook to log reservations, crossing out guest details, name, number, and address, whenever they cancel. Space limitations are also no longer a problem.
Dealing with customers, with an online reservations system in place, restaurants no longer:
- confront over-demanding customers
- waste time on phone calls, informing customers that all tables are taken
- cause unnecessary disappointment for customers
To book a restaurant table, new guests pick slots online and make reservations based on real-time availability. Having an overall picture of a restaurant’s booking schedule makes a big difference: customers no longer wade in mysterious waters to book a restaurant table. They don’t have to make phone calls, for example, to find out if a restaurant has tables available.
Creating certainty is key. When a customer finds out that no immediate same-day bookings are available, they will probably book for a later date. Viewing an online reservations page, however, customers can negotiate later dates into their own schedule, avoiding any future disappointment.
Plus, online reservations have other benefits — including saving a restaurant heaps of time on restaurant no-shows.
No-shows are a problem even for fully booked restaurants. However, an online reservations system helps to lessen the chance they occur. Using frequent automatic reminders and instant guest communication features, restaurant guests are more likely to heed to their promises. Digital reminders have decreased no-shows by fifty per cent in other industries.
Why Book a Restaurant Table Online?
Online reservations are an incredible way to transform your current booking system. Working with a real-time setup, your restaurant establishes a connection between customer needs and realistic cover allocation.
As customers can simply book via their smartphones or web browser, all restaurants need to do is direct customers to their dedicated bookings page — learn how to on Google Maps or social media.
Customers are trying to find seats at fully booked restaurants because of a lack of information. Offer them a helping hand and post your bookings page online now.
Find out about all the ins-and-outs about online reservations in our comprehensive article. A table reservations procedure for restaurants can incorporate online reservations to improve a venue’s quality of customer service. Remember: One of the biggest myths associated with online reservations systems is that staff will lose control over their customer bookings.