Restaurants 'getting stiffed' by reservation no-shows, survey reveals

Restaurants 'getting stiffed'

Restaurants have suffered a lot throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but things are starting to get better.

According to a new survey by OpenTable, more than 75% of their restaurants have reopened in Canada, and seated diners at those restaurants in August were just 3% below 2019 levels.

The survey reveals 27% of Canadians intend on eating out more frequently than before the pandemic and to support local restaurants (56%), enjoy a change of scenery (55%) and take a break from cooking at home (40%).

With COVID restrictions lifting, 46% of Canadians are excited to have the option to dine at a restaurant.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that diners are also screwing over businesses by making reservations and then not showing up or cancelling them in time for restaurants to book someone else.

“They’re stiffing us,” one Burnaby restaurant owner said. “On a busy night, we’re having to turn away people because we’re booked and then people don’t show up. That means we’ve lost revenue on a table at a time when we’re just hanging on. Every table counts and we can’t afford to just lose it because someone is too lazy to let us know. It’s got to stop.”

According to the OpenTable data, almost one in 10 Canadians say they haven't shown up for a reservation in the past year.

"When a diner doesn't fulfill a reservation, it significantly impacts the restaurant's revenue," says Matt Davis with OpenTable Canada.

OpenTable has added new tools and features to help restaurants prevent no-shows.

  • A New Way to Tag Diners: This new tool allows restaurants to label a diner as a potential no-show based on previous reservation activity. The tool allows restaurateurs to tag the diner with a new label, so they can be proactive about confirming attendance with the diner as their reservation approaches.
  • “Four Strikes and You’re Out”: OpenTable's policy suspends diners who don't show up for a reservation four times per calendar year. This policy is in addition to a number of features that OpenTable offers to mitigate no-shows, such as email and SMS reminders, prepaid experiences, availability alerts, customizable cancellation policies, credit-card required reservations holds and more.
  • Communicate Directly with Restaurants In-App: OpenTable’s new Direct Messaging feature allows diners to communicate with restaurants before and after making a reservation, without ever having to make a phone call. Direct messaging empowers restaurants to serve up better hospitality by reducing cancellations and no-shows and building stronger connections that keep guests coming back.

As lockdown restrictions continue to lift, proof of vaccination is becoming a new safety standard that people will need to navigate.

To simplify that process, OpenTable now allows restaurants to display COVID-19 vaccine requirements to diners. OpenTable is also launching a new tool that tags a diner as “Verified for Entry” once they’ve met entry requirements, such as proof of vaccination.

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