For thousands of restaurants worldwide, online reservations software has proven to be an invaluable tool. However, many restaurant operators still haven’t made the switch to take their reservations online. Quite often, this depends on a series of mistaken fears in the industry: namely, of losing organisational control.
We delve into this fear — one of the biggest and most erroneous concerns restaurant operators have raised in the past.
Or maybe you already have urgent questions related to reservations online for restaurants? Talk to us and discuss some of the issues that restaurant software can help alleviate.
Common Concerns Debunked
Restaurants typically cite a few regular fears about online reservations, and as a result, they hesitate about giving it a try. Some misconceptions exist, and this has prevented many restaurants from reaping the benefits that a digital system provides.
The first of which is that reservations management software is a book-and-approve system, requiring the restaurant team’s due vigilance. Rather, the whole point of a digital system is to transform the booking process, to dispense the manual work required in manually logging customer bookings.
A restaurant reservation system strictly automates guest bookings — and does not block the restaurateur’s control over table allocation, all without the hassle of recording guest details and reminding customers about their bookings.
Nevertheless, four common concerns exist. We quickly debunk them to ensure that restaurants will not miss out on the many benefits that online reservations have on offer.
1. Online reservations will make me lose control.
Overall, most restaurateurs that we have spoken to consistently say that they don’t want to accept bookings online because they don’t want to lose control over their customer reservations.
Step back and think about this for a moment: If online bookings caused a restaurant to lose control, why would anyone bother to use them in the first place?
The fact is this: an online reservations system enhances a restaurateur’s control over their reservations.
The software captures customer information, never forgetting to write it down. Staff can easily access the same information, meaning no manual sharing of information is necessary. Digital systems ensure that there’s never an issue with illegible handwriting. Bookings operate on available table inventory, and staff receive notifications of new bookings.
Read more about the basics.
2. Online reservations can result in overbookings
To take reservations online, a restaurant must establish a table inventory. When a customer books a table, the inventory removes the table from the reservations page for a specific period, as pre-determined by the restaurant operator.
So the system accurately manages and updates a restaurant’s table inventory in real-time. Overbookings can never happen.
3. Online reservations will overwhelm staff
The idea is that no technological system can accurately manage guest reservations, and an online bookings system will create a massive inflow of customers, overwhelming staff.
Again, let’s go back to our initial comment. If this problem were created by online reservations, why would any restaurant employ them?
Well-designed reservation software ensures that bookings space out every 15 to 30 minutes or more — accordingly, as the restaurant establishes it.
For example, the system can have a limit of 16 covers every 15 minutes. This staggering effect on reservations will ensure that the inflow of customers spaces out enough, promising both the kitchen and front-of-house staff are never overwhelmed. In addition, this means that customers receive good service — the staff now have the time to attend to them.
4. Online reservations cannot handle large parties.
All reservation systems have a basic setting to properly handle party sizes. This is known as a guest limit feature. Such digital services typically provide a maximum booking size (e.g. tables of 6 and fewer can book online).
As such, if the guest booking exceeds 7 or more, then the customer must contact the restaurant via phone or email to book. With such a feature, most guests can reserve automatically, while staff intervene for larger groups and bigger bookings.
Often, there is also a minimum booking size possible (e.g. groups of 4 or more can book online).
Figure 1. Staff using Carbonara App at the restaurant entrance
Summing it all up
The misconception that online reservations will make restaurants lose organisational control taps into a basic human sensation: fear of the unknown, fear of the new. We often forget that tried-and-tested methods — i.e., restaurants receiving reservations via landline telephone then recording details in a pen-and-paper agenda book — were once a technical innovation, one that took decades for restaurants to accept and adopt.
Social changes come and go, and as The Atlantic magazine has shown, restaurant reservations have undergone many transformations, mutating continually to keep up with societal demands, from mass use of the telephone to digital software and the internet.
Rest assured that online reservations are also now a tried and true tool — they’ve been around for over 20 years.
In the end, it’s useful to think about how other industries use the same techniques. Airlines, for instance, successfully use online bookings to manage flights. The online process allows airlines to quickly assign seats, without customers having to phone up to buy tickets, pick seats, and organise a payment method. This way, the industry saves loads of time on processing flight passengers.
How Online Reservations Improve Management
The great part about an online reservation system is that it adapts to the needs of the restaurant. Whatever a venue needs, all they have to do is customise a system’s settings. Then they’re ready to go.
With Carbonara App, restaurants determine their control over reservations by taking them online to ease the table booking process for everyone. Online reservations can fit neatly into any restaurant customer’s strategy — especially when Carbonara App comes with both smartphone and web accessibility.
Break the myths and try it out. Read about how some of our users have witnessed improvements already, using the app to boost their venue efficiency.