- OpenTable has launched a "Show-Up for Restaurants" initiative to spotlight the impact no-shows and late cancellations have on restaurants, and to encourage diners to modify or cancel their reservation when plans change, according to a press release.
- During the summer, the booking platform will provide a tool that allows restaurants to label a diner as a potential no-show based on their previous reservation activity so they can be proactive about confirmations as the reservation approaches.
- The initiative and accompanying tool come as the industry opens back up across the country. More than 80% of restaurants have reopened in the U.S. and Yelp is seeing its highest total numbers ever for seated diners, surpassing pre-pandemic highs. Sales are also rebounding, with the industry generating $64.9 billion in sales in April.
With more than 60,000 restaurant partners and more than 1 billion guests seated per year, OpenTable's reach could potentially increase awareness about the negative effects no-shows have on restaurants. OpenTable's latest survey revealed that 30% of American said they didn't show up for a reservation in the past year. With restrictions lifting across the country, that percent is likely to increase.
Chef Tom Colicchio, a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, recently noted on Twitter an evening at one of his New York City restaurants where nearly half of his available seats were no-shows.
20 no shows at Vallata restaurant, we only have 50 seats. Please if you can’t make your reservation give us the curtesy and call to cancel so we can rebook the table.— Tom Colicchio (@tomcolicchio) June 16, 2021
No-shows can deeply affect a restaurant's bottom line. OpenTable cites Philadelphia restaurant Blackfish as a example, noting that if six people don't show up for one dinner, Blackfish loses 5% of its income. When customers fail to show up without canceling, they can also create a ripple effect where the establishment may have already scheduled now unnecessary labor, adding to costs and exasperating the hiring challenges the industry is currently grappling with.
"When a diner doesn't fulfill a reservation, it significantly impacts the restaurant's revenue," OpenTable CEO Debby Soo said in a statement. "At OpenTable, we believe we have a responsibility to help build awareness of this issue and leverage our technology in every way possible to reduce no-show rates."
Such unnecessary losses and costs have always been a big deal in a thin-margin restaurant industry, but they're especially precarious in a crisis environment. Thirty-nine percent of restaurants didn't have enough revenue to cover rent in June, according to a June Rent Report from Alignable.
In the past, some restaurant owners have blamed reservations platforms like OpenTable for the rise in no-shows, claiming customers book reservations to collect points without having to attend the restaurant. OpenTable has tried to mitigate these concerns with various efforts. In 2017, the company launched a Book Responsibly feature that issues more reminders to diners about their pending reservations. OpenTable also has a "four strikes and you're out" policy, which suspends diners who failed to show up for a reservation four times within 12 months. It also provides email and SMS reminders, prepaid experiences, availability alerts, customizable cancellation policies and credit card required reservations holds.