No-show clients are a very real problem for the restaurant industry – empty seating is always a sorry sight, especially for eateries operating on small profit margins. It can also be harrowing for these businesses to turn away customers because of the wrong reservations or unavailability of tables.
That’s why more than 80% of the restaurants are turning to technology like online ordering and reservation systems to streamline their business processes – 95% of these restaurants have reported growth by employing this technology.
Restaurant reservation systems help manage the constant influx of reservations and customers – allowing the customers to book their tables remotely so managers can schedule resources according to the number of bookings.
Customers also want a more convenient dining experience, and restaurants want to deliver the same to boost their business. A powerful table booking system for restaurants can help them do just that.
What is an online reservation system?
Online reservation offers the convenience of booking a table and ordering food in advance, for customers. They can use apps with built-in online booking systems that let them reserve tables before they ever step foot into the restaurant.
These systems ensure that the customer doesn’t have to endure long wait times or go to another restaurant if their favorite one is all booked-out.
Moreover, online restaurant reservation systems can help the restaurant staff organize reservation management processes and save precious time as they get to handle more customers. This allows the managers to streamline their operations and earn more significant profits.
According to research, 54% of guests say that online reservation is the most crucial technology feature provided by the restaurants, proving that it can be an instant hit with your customers.
Integration of online reservation technology in restaurants
Up until a few years ago, restaurant reservations were made via phone calls – the wait staff would pencil in the name, time and date on their schedules to reserve the table.
It resulted in the loss of the staff member’s precious time, which they could have utilized in cleaning tables or serving the customers. The advent of online systems has revolutionized the landscape of the restaurant reservation system, streamlining the entire process and making it more efficient for all stakeholders.
While some eateries still take reservations on a first come first serve policy, restaurants that entertain online reservations grab the advantage of a predictable outcome of the day and enhance it to guarantee the best customer experience.
Online reservation has become an essential component of a restaurant that uses technology to leverage its business operations and satisfies its customers. It gives complete freedom to the consumers to make a booking without any interaction.
Furthermore, online reservations decrease the waiting time and help the restaurant owner to gauge the day’s schedule and the amount of work for the day.
Features of an online restaurant reservation system
A state-of-the-art online reservation app is easy to use and ensures proper management of reservations to provide the customers with a hassle-free booking experience.
The following are essential features for an online reservation app:
Secure payment options
A report by National Restaurant Association shows that 32 percent of adults would use a mobile or wireless payment option offered to them by a full-service restaurant while 49% of restaurant operators think that mobile payment option is a must-have technology for restaurants.
The trouble is that credit card hacks are a source of significant customer frustration and make businesses suffer by ruining their reputation. Any compromise on the safety of a customer’s information can damage the trustworthiness of a company and lead to legal trouble.
The sensitive customer transaction data must be fully protected to increase their patronage towards your restaurant and help you succeed.
Hence, safe and secure credit card processing is vital for an online reservation system. Additionally, the restaurant reservation system must support multiple payment methods to make bookings easier for them.
A restaurant reservation system must be intuitive and easy to navigate for the customers so they can make bookings quickly.
Ensure minimal clicks because if it takes more time to book online than it does on call. This negates the entire purpose of your app, and chances are that the customer will completely abandon the reservation process.
Therefore, booking information must be easily accessible and relayed clearly – so the user can see the open and available timeslots and stake their claim.
Also, the booking and cancellation policies should be transparent to make sure the customers understand precisely what it entails to use the app or online software.
Take, for example, UpMenu’s user-friendly reservation system, which is easily accessible on all mobile devices and can be integrated effortlessly to your restaurant’s website – increasing the chances of booking out all your open tables.
Simple and clear calendar
A calendar is an essential tool when it comes to handling and booking reservations. The success or failure of the whole reservation system is based on a well-organized schedule. Failing to do so will result in wrong reservations, double bookings, and many more problems.
Therefore, your reservation system needs to support a clear and compelling calendar function that should store the essential details of every customer.
Moreover, the calendar feature should be unambiguously displayed to the customer so that they can see the availability of any reservation. The prices and available dates must also be visible.
An efficient restaurant reservation system must offer the feasibility of pre-ordering a meal as it saves time for both the staff and the customer.
This feature allows people to order off the menu while they’re on their way to the restaurant, so they are served piping hot food as soon as they are seated.
Customers can quickly scroll through the digital menu and decide their orders. With just a few clicks, they can book a table, place the order and even pay for the meal.
This option is great for restaurants because it reduces the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations – if they have booked a table and even ordered in advance, there are higher chances of them showing up.
This way, restaurants make sales even before the customer sets foot in there. On busier days, pre-ordering helps their patrons avoid the hassle of delays in ordering, food preparation and checkout. With the order already made in advance, the staff can serve the guests quickly and increase their customer service quality.
UpMenu’s pre-ordering option will ensure that the customer does not have to wait for the food to be prepared at the restaurant and makes it certain that the reservation will not be canceled.
A visually-appealing menu
Wouldn’t it be nice to show your patrons the actual dishes instead of just the menu?
An online restaurant reservation system can help you do just that.
Research also suggests that 86% of millennials will try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online. So insert images with your menu to entice your customers.
Take high-res pictures of items off your menu to attract customers to your restaurant – make sure that your reservation system supports images on the online list. This will give them an idea of what they are going to order and decrease the chances of them asking you questions about the dish.
Moreover, high-quality images will help you express the brand image and the story of your restaurant and its cuisine.
Discounts and vouchers
Your prospects are primed and ready to buy from you when they open up your table booking app. But wouldn’t it be nice to seal the deal for good by offering them enticing discounts?
This way, you can be sure that they won’t say no to you.
In addition to fixed-price discounts, you could use the app for advertising promotions to increase bookings at a particular time during the day. For example, you notice that the 4 to 6 pm slot is usually empty across your eatery – offer specials and wine-tastings, etc. for anyone who makes a booking in these hours.
They’ll love the added incentive, and you’ll get more business!
The restaurant reservation system supports the option of running promotions and discounts that the clients can take advantage of when they are checking out after making a reservation.
Your table booking system should have the ability to deliver push notifications, i.e., automated emails and SMS alerts to anyone who is registered to use it.
But make sure that you ask them permission before you start pushing your messages to their devices – it starts with sending a confirmation email to the customer once they have reserved a table or pre-ordered a meal.
These confirmation emails are followed by reminder emails, SMS alerts, and feedback requests to improve communication with the customers.
This feature can help you save time in managing your business as automated emails can be scheduled for a specific time.
After making a table reservation, some customers might want to verify their bookings. In such a situation, it is mandatory to mention telephonic contact details so that the customers can contact you about any query.
Your app should have a built-in call mechanism that lets them get in touch with your restaurant ASAP. You could also include chat functionality so the users could simply message a rep to confirm their appointment or have any questions answered.
Easy integration with restaurant’s website
Imagine a prospective customer ends up on your website; they browse around and really like your menu.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to let them know that they can order online, in that instant, as soon as they feel the craving?
Make it possible for users to launch the reservation software on the restaurant’s website. A quick and reliable booking widget means that your restaurant will no longer have to rely on phone calls to receive bookings from the site.
Instead, the bookings can be made with a few clicks from the restaurant’s web page.
If your restaurant does not have a website, UpMenu provides the most elegant restaurant website themes that you can use to develop your website without technical skills or professional assistance.
A modern restaurant reservation system comes equipped with powerful reporting features that give you a quick overview of the state of your online orders.
It offers data on payment statuses, revenues, booking statistics, and reservation statistics for each medium. The reports generated through the reservation system, help you to plan your processes better.
Benefits of an online table reservation system
Online ordering apps have garnered considerable popularity with restaurant owners as well as customers.
After all, everyone loves an online order management platform that can be navigated with convenience.
If you are a restaurant owner, who hasn’t tried out an online restaurant reservation app or system, it’s time that you consider this option. Here are several ways your business can benefit from it:
Convenient and timely reservations
This is one of the most significant benefits of an online reservation system where the customers can book a time that is convenient for them.
It also maximizes the overall sales of the restaurant because they can do it at any time – day or night. So they no longer have to wait for you to open shop, they can go to your website and do it online, or they could use the app.
Customers are more likely to make a booking in the evening when they get free from work – and they no longer have to worry about busy phone lines at that hour.
But an online restaurant reservation system doesn’t only save time for the customers; restaurant staff can benefit from this as well. Significant time is spent talking to the customer through the scheduling options.
This time can be saved by a reservation system where the client performs all the activities mentioned above. So the staff gets more time to manage simultaneous tasks effectively.
The system-integrated website displays the business hours, time of reservation and incentives such as special offers and coupons to guarantee a more appealing dinner experience for your patrons.
Automatic emails or text messages generated through the reservation system will ensure that the customers do not forget their reservation time and make any needed adjustments in their schedule. Other options include a calendar of reservations and the opportunity to request a favorite table location.
Customer booking history can then be saved automatically with their preferences, to enable the servers to create the best dining experience during every visit.
Your diners will be impressed when reserving a table at your restaurant with a smooth, hassle-free process. With all the appealing dishes and attractive features of your restaurant displayed on the website that can be accessed with the click of a mouse or a touch of the finger, customers will leave feeling valued and gratified.
A restaurant reservation system is a fruitful investment as it will not only help you improve your bookings but also allows you to reap a higher profit on those reservations.
The significant benefit of an online system is the feasibility it provides to create, publish, promote and sell packages or add-ons.
The result will be increased sales of the extras because now your customers can automatically see these options whereas the staff sometimes forget to mention these extras if they are taking multiple bookings during a busy period.
Moreover, customers are also likely to upgrade their reservation order and buy extras since they have more time to make their decision when placing an online reservation.
Research suggests that 40% of customers and restaurant owners want the online booking feature in the restaurant reservation app. It is safe to say that the restaurant industry understands the myriad benefits provided by a quality table reservation system.
Things to consider before choosing an online restaurant reservation system
There are multiple online booking systems out there, but if you want a table reservation system that perfectly aligns with the goals of your business and is an instant hit with your customers, here are some aspects of it you must think about:
New profit streams for your restaurant
People do not open restaurants because money is their big priority – they do it because they love food, cooking and serving others.
But proper finances are essential for restaurants that prosper and succeed.
So no wonder that the big players in this industry are coming up with ways to generate new profit streams – research suggests that millennials spend 44% of their food dollars on eating out annually, and it’s essential to attract as much of that as possible.
Therefore, you need a restaurant reservation system that provides special functions to help you increase your profits.
You can also organize revenue-generating events and experiences through this system and send out emails and text messages to your valued customers. These events might include giving your guests the ability to select their seating area or choose from an exclusive menu.
Before choosing a table reservation system, the first thing that you ensure is the system’s reliability. If the system suddenly crashes on one of the busiest days of your restaurant’s service, you might miss out on many valuable reservations, lose customers, and receive complaints from the users. Your restaurant cannot afford such a risk.
Therefore, a dependable system that minimizes the chances of crashing risks has to be your safest bet.
Ease of use
The simplicity of the software is a big deal for your business because it goes a long way in determining the processes and profits of your restaurant.
A restaurant reservation app must provide state-of-the-art function while also being easy to use for the system operator as well as the customers. Make sure you know exactly how your customers will experience the reservation process as people do not have much patience to deal with a complicated interface.
It is essential to consider the cost of an online restaurant reservation system and see if it fits your budget.
Various pricing plans are available for booking apps – the monthly plan for which you pay to use the platform for a month or the commission-based pricing that charges you a certain percentage of money when a booking is made.
These plans grow with your business, but if you are going for the commission-based pricing plan, with the increase in commissions, you might end up paying more than the monthly plan.
The best reservation system allows restaurants to accommodate the maximum number of people according to the number of tables and their turn times.
Managing the restaurant floor can be tough, especially when it comes to walk-in seating. But if you have the right booking platform, your restaurant will always be buzzing with happy customers.
Your restaurant reservation system must be built on an algorithm that considers up to 10,000 seating options in very little time while ensuring complete transparency for you with powerful reporting tools that include customer flow reports.
An online table reservation system is not only for bookings and their confirmations.
A competitive booking system provides multiple functions such as memberships, discount codes, vouchers, automatic email, SMS reminders and a lot more. These functions help restaurants up-sell, market and delegate operations.
Furthermore, it should not only offer innovative widgets and features but work correctly when integrated with the restaurant website through a WordPress reservation plugin or when combined with any other software.
A good app will boost your business in ways you never expected, ensuring that your customers feel valued at all stages in the booking process.
Alignment with your business plan
The right reservation system must support your business goals.
There are two types of restaurant reservation systems in the market: consumer-facing websites and operator facing management platforms.
The first type functions as marketplaces for reservations – it allows restaurants to list their seating inventory and enable diners to search and book tables across different restaurants.
The operator facing platform allows the restaurant to power its consumer-facing website with apps that are then advertised to diners.
Both these services work as efficient marketing machines to help you build brand awareness and loyalty for your restaurant.
Ways to increase sales through your online restaurant reservation system
Once you’ve found the right reservation system for your restaurant, it’s time to put it to work. Utilize the customer data collected by the reservation system to connect deeply with your loyal guests and attract new customers.
Here are some tips to help you get discovered online by more people to ensure more tables booked at your restaurant:
Rank your website high on Google
Google can be leveraged to find new customers and drive direct reservations to your restaurant. The search engine giant provides handy tools to promote businesses and restaurants – lookout for Google My Business and SEO techniques that allow the customers to find restaurant websites, learn more about their services and make a reservation easily.
By making your restaurant’s website SEO friendly, you can increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. 57% of customers are reported to view restaurant websites before selecting where to dine, which shows the importance of an easily visible website. But this requires a streamlined SEO strategy that must be executed in the right manner –it all starts with a user-friendly website.
Moreover, by listing your restaurant on Google Business tool, you can add valuable information for your potential customers such as location, website, and business hours with a call to action button. This helps direct the user to the site where they can see the restaurant’s menu and make a booking.
Insert call to action buttons at all suitable places
Your “Reserve Now” CTA buttons must be visible on the homepage of your restaurant’s website as well as other appropriate places to encourage the visitors to reserve a table or make an order.
The button should be bright and clearly visible to entice the customers to take action, which will then direct them towards the online reservation system to convert as a customer eventually.
Send targeted emails
The email addresses that you collect through your online table reservation system can be utilized for further communication with the customer.
You can send them targeted emails containing special offers, booking codes, service messages, or other information.
Give special bonus codes to loyal guests
You can surprise your customers with personal bonus codes that can be applied in your restaurant’s reservation software. Use the software to reward your loyal customers with special rates and deals unavailable to others.
This will ensure customer satisfaction and increased loyalty to your restaurant – this will boost the sales of your business.
Technology has changed the entire landscape of the restaurant industry. More and more restaurants are now embracing online restaurant reservation systems to streamline their booking processes.
The best table reservation system provides functionality, user-friendly interface, reliability, customer satisfaction and the added feature of keeping track of your business.
This reservation system saves a considerable amount of time for both the restaurant staff and the customers. The diners can easily place their orders through the online system and reserve the seating plan of their choice while the restaurant staff is saved from the hassle of long phone reservation calls and the confusion of bookings that arise due to human error.
UpMenu’s online reservation system helps you to increase profits through secure reservations to help you to bypass your competition. It informs you of the number of customers expected and how you can plan your staff and stock levels according to the reservations.
This booking management system can be quickly launched on your restaurant’s website within a short time. It helps in boosting your business processes and saving valuable time for both the customers and staff members.
The restaurant reservation system is a software solution that offers consumers the convenience of booking a table and ordering food in advance. Customers can use a designated website or mobile application to place orders even before they set foot in a restaurant.
Restaurant reservation system helps by saving your employees time that would take to manually receive reservations and orders. It also helps by providing information about future workload(so you can prepare accordingly) also, Restaurant Reservation System holds positive value for your customers as a convenience that has become standard in the industry.
– Secure Payment Options
– User-friendly Interface
– Pre-ordering option
– Transparent calendar
– Visually-appealing menu design
– Promotion engine(capable of handling vouchers and discounts)
– Automatic communication for Marketing Campaigns
– Simple and smooth integration
– Phone Call support
– Report System
– New revenue streams for your restaurant
– Reliability of the chosen system
– Clear and transparent interface
– Value for money
– System Coverage
– Additional functions (automated marketing, promotion engine, mobile app integration)
– Adjustment to your business strategy