Restaurants: Use Technology to Keep Up with Walk-Ins, Waitlists, and Reservations During the Holidays

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Restaurants: Use Technology to Keep Up with Walk-Ins, Waitlists, and Reservations During the Holidays

By Pascal Nicolas, CEO, SalesVu LLC - 12/11/2018

Every year, many restaurant owners find themselves slammed with increased holiday traffic and no action plan in place to keep up. The phrase “I’ll make sure to plan ahead for next year,” gets thrown around again and again, yet when the next year arrives, the cycle repeats.  

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. It sets customers up for poor experiences, and sets staff up to fail. This year, it’s time to break the cycle.

Here are some technologies restaurant owners can use to help them get through the holiday rush successfully:

Implement a Virtual Floorplan

Does your restaurant have a virtual floorplan? Virtual floorplans are a host stand’s tactical map for seating guests. It provides a bird’s eye view into which tables are full, which are ready, and which are reserved.

The floorplan also helps hosts see what’s available in each server’s section, ensuring that servers attending to different sections aren’t overwhelmed and unable to deliver positive customer experiences to each table. It also prevents them from twiddling their thumbs and draining resources because their sections aren’t being utilized.

While many restaurants have an analog floor plan, the virtual ones are necessary during the holidays, as an increased number of guests results in constant changes and shifts to the floor plan. In a full house, the hostess can’t keep up with all of these changes while still providing the level of customer service guests are expecting.

Add Group to Waitlist

This is a feature that can add walk-ins to a waitlist and automatically calculate accurate wait times for guests. This is especially relevant during the holidays, since large parties frequently show up unexpectedly, looking for a place to connect with one another and share a great experience.

If a host stand doesn’t have a tool that can queue walk-ins and provide accurate wait times, customers end up leaving the establishment when they are left waiting longer than their quoted time. This results in lost dollars and poor Yelp reviews.

Save Customer Data in Contact Database

 A restaurant relies on providing great experiences that keep customers coming back. Losing a loyal customer can be detrimental, so it’s critical to continue providing exceptional experiences to your regulars even in the midst of a holiday rush.

One way to keep these customers happy is by utilizing a tool that automatically saves customer data, so that you can save time at the host stand and allow your staff to quickly seat your loyal customers.

Upgrade to Text Notifications

Buzzers are bulky, inconvenient, and obtrusive. Even worse, some hosts only notify customers when tables are ready by calling out names to a crowd of waiting customers. These outdated methods don’t just result in poor experiences, they can actually cause some guests to miss their tables if they can’t hear the host or don’t notice the buzzer.

This season, eliminate buzzers and switch to SMS text notifications. Nowadays, there are advanced tools that allow restaurants to take reservations, notify customers that their tables are ready, and seat them on virtual table maps. This saves time for the hostess, and helps keep the host stand less crowded.

Use an Online Reservation App with Advanced Payment Options to Eliminate No-Shows

Restaurant owners can eliminate no-shows by utilizing advanced payment options that are available on some of the most innovative online restaurant reservation tools.  For example, an online reservation app that makes patrons give a deposit for their reserved seats will ensure restaurants avoid, or get compensated for, no-shows.

Online reservation systems are perfect for maximizing customer convenience. Especially practical for the holidays when large parties are common, an online reservation system allows restaurants to plan ahead for guests and ensure their tables are ready and waiting for them when they arrive. Additionally, a good online reservation tool will allow restaurant patrons to login to your reservation app from their iPhone and view their place on the waitlist in real time. This keeps customers informed while also keeping your host stand clear. Ideally, your systems will be capable of talking to one another, meaning that your online reservation apps can communicate with your in house waitlist system so that you don’t run the risk of overbooking or double booking.

Integrate Your Systems

The best way to stay on top of your game this holiday season is to have all of your systems working together. An online reservation system, waitlist, text notification system, customer database and point of sale will all improve efficiency individually. When they work together cohesively and operate from a single database you can provide seamless, exceptional experiences for staff and customers alike.

For example, reservation and waitlist tools fully integrated with the point of sale will ensure wait staff provides the best personalized service. Your staff will not only avoid over or double-booking, but also be able to identify returning customers’ favorite tables, drinks and appetizers and be able to deliver with very little fuss. This ensures a positive customer experience for your most valued regular customers.

About the author

Pascal created SalesVu after he acquired an Italian restaurant in Austin and could not find a solution that would allow him to manage the business remotely and generate more sales. Being a software engineer at heart, Pascal set on mission to create a revolutionary payment solution that would include remote management and revenue generation capabilities.

Prior to founding SalesVu, Pascal worked at Dell as a product manager for an $100M software suite, traveling to large corporate customers and presenting at industry trade shows. Pascal has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and speaks both French and Spanish fluently.