While browsing restaurant Web sites recently, I noticed that quite a few of them offer an option to make reservations online. As it turns out, however, most of these are actually just forms that send emails to restaurant managers when they are filled out.
Even though these restaurants know that online reservations are the future of the industry, the fact that they are still using email for those reservations puts them at a disadvantage to companies that have specialized online reservation software.
When you use email, it’s extremely difficult to make use of the data you collect from guests.
One of the main drawbacks of using email forms is that you can’t use the data to grow your business because it isn’t stored.
If your restaurant’s managers have a way to store customer data, then they have the information available whenever they need it. When you plan a new promotion or activity, you don’t have to waste money on expensive newspaper or TV ads in an effort to attract people who have never eaten at your establishment. Instead, you already know exactly what kind of food, décor or service will help ensure that guests make a repeat visit. People who already like your restaurant are much more likely to return for special promotions.
Regulars are the customers who have likely already celebrated a special Valentine’s Day, had a marriage proposal, enjoyed a happy, carefree evening with good friends or celebrated a wonderful family reunion at your restaurant. If you are proud of your establishment, then you should know the best time to invite these guests back to make more cherished memories there.
A study shows that the “golden ratio” of returning to new customers is 85% return customers, 25% new customers. This ratio is the most ideal to ensure optimal growth.
Email reservations make it difficult to control the amount of seats reserved
When you receive a reservation via email, it means that you have to take the extra step of making a notation on your seating chart. But if you use reservation software, then all you need is a mobile device like your iPhone or iPad in order to manage seating.
That means restaurant staffers no longer need to worry about accidentally forgetting to note a reservation or losing a customer’s information. As soon as a guest reserves a table or makes a change to the size of their dining party or their reservation time, the change will automatically appear on your iPhone or iPad and you will receive a push notification.
If there are periods of time when you have more empty tables or less seating availability, or you suddenly get a last-minute request for a large party, then your restaurant manager can whip out their iPad or iPhone and immediately adjust the seating quota as necessary.
Email reservations make it difficult to send out reminders
Sometimes guests will make a reservation, but because of last-minute plans will be unable to notify you of their cancellation. But unless a restaurant has enough staff to confirm every reservation through email or by phone, then the only option you have is to wait an hour or so until a guest doesn’t show up before you can give their seat to another customer.
If you use an app to manage your reservations, however, it can automatically send out a reminder via email to your guests, which will reduce your no-show rate. For example, EZTABLE’s online reservation service make its easy to automatically send out a reminder on the day of your guest’s reservation, which reduces the number of forgotten reservations.
According to our research, using automatic reminders and making cancellations convenient can reduce your no-show rate by 4%.
Email can’t tell your guests how to make a reservation
Even though many restaurant Web sites provide an online service that allows guests to make a reservation by filling out a form, these forms are usually non-customizable after they are online, which means that you can’t change them for special promotions.
Restaurants frequently offer new dishes, so why shouldn’t restaurants be able to make their reservation method just as flexible? Shouldn’t guests be able to see the latest offers from a restaurant at the same time they make a reservation? What if there is a new seat meal, or a special free Christmas dessert? What if there is a special menu for Valentine’s Day?
If guests can see what promotions are available at the same time that they consider making a reservation, then they are much more likely to reserve seats. This is why using reservation software is much more helpful than a simple email form. Reservation software can change as you launch new promotions and improve your operations.
If you use EZTABLE’s customizable reservation page, then you know how much better it is than email for keeping track of reservations. We strongly recommend that our clients who are still using an email reservation form consider switching to a reservation app instead.
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(Photo via Google, CC License)