Online Reservations for Restaurants: Your Questions Answered

Restaurant website reservations: do they work and are they effective? The short answer: yes.

However, many restaurants miss out because they view online booking platforms with caution, believing mistakenly that an online system will disrupt their flow — but, on the contrary, the very opposite is true.

Here are your questions answered.

smartphone chat--online reservations for restaurants--lars

Smartphone Chat by Lars Ploughman via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

How do Online Reservations for Restaurants Work?

It’s much simpler than it looks.

Basically, online table reservations translate your existing pen-and-paper reservation system to the internet. 

Sharing information online, a web platform simplifies the reservations process for you. No more over-reliance on processing customer phone calls.

Busy restaurants use reservations to manage guest demand. So the essential function of online table reservations is this: to allow customers to book a table without human interaction via the web, a reservations portal. Therefore, this lessens the work on your end.

When managing your existing workload, online reservations for restaurants never get in the way — rather, they help boost your venue’s overall performance. With online reservations for restaurants, you’ll never lose control over your reservations system. 

Are Online Reservations for Restaurants Similar to Travel Sites?

In terms of function, yes. For example, popular hotel booking sites are similar, but there are some clear differences.

  1. Most travel sites are more concerned with the bigger picture. They display deals from multiple clients (hotels, rooms), whereas reservation systems are dedicated to just one restaurant or chain with multiple branches.
  2. They’re international! So their booking systems will look more intricate, providing more customer features (language options, for instance).

Yet there are some similarities to note. 

  • Travel booking sites typically don’t charge customers for making reservations. They provide customers with a free service for booking rooms. 
  • They promise instant confirmation. A few clicks are all it takes to make a booking at a hotel. 
  • They also promise customer security, facilitating hundreds of thousands of transactions every day (websites usually publish a privacy statement and make it available).

Will I Have to Approve my Restaurant’s Online Reservations?

Many in the restaurant industry hold the mistaken belief that web reservations work via a book-and-approve arrangement, with a restaurant’s staff approving all reservations as they come in. 

Well, this is simply false.

Many restaurateurs are approaching the concept of online table reservations from a well-established background that has held water for over a century: to log reservations via a pen-and-paper system. This formula requires the restaurant’s approval, whereas an online portal does not.

This set of principles has muddied the waters. Instead of seeing the innovatory power of online reservations, an established way of doing things has informed a mistaken belief.

Online reservations for restaurants automate bookings for you. It is up to the customer, the user, to complete a booking, which then logs into your schedule. No hassle, no wasted time — just a simple process completed via the helping hand of technology.

Here’s a useful example. Think back to anytime you’ve booked a ticket for an event, a cinema screening for instance. You navigate a web page, select your seat, and pay for the ticket via a web portal. So far so good.

Here’s the crucial part. Did the website or booking platform ever ask you to wait for approval from the service provider? Did the cinema house, in the above example, ever intervene and ask you to wait while they approved your booking?

No — and this is how to make online table reservations. This is how they operate. 

Do Online Reservations for Restaurants Improve my Booking Rate?

Yes. This is because they allow customers to book tables at any time of the day. So online table reservations open possibilities for your restaurant. You no longer have to be there twenty-four-seven to process customer reservations.

Especially during after-hours. There is now a growing trend where the majority of customers make online purchases during the evening. Smartphone technology adds muscle to this trend, but whatever the reason online retailers are profiting from it.  

In consumer psychology, there’s a little phrase called “instant gratification”. It appeals to the idea of fulfilment without delay. 

With online reservations, there are no barriers. The customer instantly makes a booking with instant fulfilment: they’ve secured a table in seconds.

Yellow Rose Customers by Eden via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

And What About No-shows?

Online table reservations help reduce the chance of customer no-shows.

This is because most customers actually forget to cancel. Sometimes they forget they had made their reservation in the first place. 

Now guest reminders ensure the opposite. Online table reservations send automated reminders, giving guests flexibility when booking tables — both those that honour their bookings and those that wish to cancel. 

Will I Still Need to Process Phone Bookings?

Well, it’s up to you. Online table reservations don’t eliminate other booking methods. Rather, they work hand in hand.

Yet online reservations for restaurants allow you to cut back the hours of the staff member processing phone reservations — say 16:00—20:00, instead of 13:00—20:00.

Many restaurants are currently dealing with staff shortages, and now an online reservations system can help short-staffed restaurant teams focus on attending to guests more efficiently. 

How to Make Online Reservations for Restaurants

Thinking about how to make online reservations?

Unlike its competitors, Carbonara App is completely free. It allows restaurants to implement an online table reservations platform.  

Contact us to learn more or download the app on the App Store or the Google Play Store today!