Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world, maybe forever.
And for restaurants, this change has affected both owners and customers. Many will have to rethink how they serve customers. Customers will also adjust how they eat out, if such a thing will still exist.
Prior to the pandemic, customers could just waltz into a restaurant and have a meal.
That will no longer fly.
Now they will have to make a plan on when to eat out and notify their chosen restaurant of their plans. I guess no more surprises.
In the years before the pandemic, customers had to call in to check table availability. However, reservation softwares make this process easy for the customer and restaurant.
Reservation software provides 2 major advantages:
- They help you control the flow of patrons in and out of your hotel,
- They allow you monitor the capacity of your restaurant per time.
These 2 advantages have given many restaurant managers the edge they need to reopen when the pandemic passes.
Unfortunately, a significant number of restaurant owners/managers haven’t embraced reservation software. They still rely on phone calls, emails, and walk-ins to book reservations.
I understand that not everyone is quick to adopting new ways of doing business, especially when there’s technology involved.
If you are yet to embrace reservation technology and want to know how it can help you reopen, and even scale, keep reading.
But first, we need to define…
What Really Is Reservation Software?
Reservation software is a digital platform that helps customers make reservations online and allow restaurants to manage these reservations.
You know what’s scary about using phone call and log book to make reservations?
That’s right – Errors!
Human are amazing creatures, but we are far from perfect. With a few booking calls, you can easily manage your tables using the traditional phone/log book method.
However, as more reservation calls come in, it gets pretty complicated to handle tables and seating times manually. This is when human inaccuracies come into the picture, resulting in booking errors and, ultimately, irate customers.
And for restaurants, irate customers can spell doom for business.
Plus, due to the pandemic, you will have to carefully control the flow of diners to prevent overcrowding.
Thankfully, reservation software can save you from such a nightmare and protect public health as well. It will help make your reopening a safe and profitable exercise.
Now, here are 9 benefits of reservation software:
Restaurants took the biggest hit when stay-home orders and social distancing regulations were enacted. This caused many restaurants with zero online presence to go out of business.
This is perhaps the most important benefit of reservation software during the pandemic. It gives restaurants the ability to meet customer where they now are – online.
With reservation software, you can improve your chances of being found online. Including this technology in your operation helps increase your visibility in local searches.
This means that potential customers in the immediate surroundings of your restaurant venue can easily find you without stepping out.
Public gathering prohibition and social distancing were the hallmarks of the pandemic.
Health experts have concluded that the virus spreads the most when people stand too close together in public places. In a waiting area, people with respiratory symptoms come close to healthy individuals and infect them with the virus.
With reservation software, you move your waiting area to the digital world.
Your customers can easily add themselves to your waitlist from their mobile devices. Plus, you could make the list as long as possible.
This way, they can wait for their reservations in their homes, offices, cars, etc.
Restaurants have received some of the strictest guidelines for reopening.
New health policies have mandated that they reduce their seating-area capacity by as much as half in some cases. Which means, those restaurants that usually have their dining areas packed to the brim, are going to be in trouble.
However, using reservation software you can easily and accurately monitor your restaurant capacity. There are a couple of ways this can be done:
- You can use the software to set a maximum limit to the amount of guests that can be in your restaurant per time. Every time a guest leaves, the software updates you on the number of tables available.
- Another way is to use the flow control feature to manage the number of parties or events that can book reservations at a given period.
These methods will prevent you from crowding your dining area and break health protocols.
Dining Area Arrangement
Many restaurants used to cram their dining area with tables to accommodate as many guests as possible.
Sadly, that’s now prohibited in many states, no thanks to covid-19.
Health protocols in some states mandate that there be as much as 10 feet of space between tables. Obviously, this means that restaurant have fewer tables to work with.
Using reservation software, you can optimize and make the most of the tables you have. They enable you to create/save backup layouts and block off tables by syncing with the floor plan in your POS.
Furthermore, your guests can reserve free tables in real-time days or even weeks ahead.
Despite the pandemic, some customers have said they’d return to dining out when restaurants reopen. This is good for business, but poses a different problem.
Most customers say they will only return to restaurants and bars if staffs will observe safety protocols. Customers want to be sure that their health will be top-of-mind for their chosen restaurant.
Here’s where reservation software comes in.
Robust reservation platforms provide customers with features where they can communicate their concerns. They can ask about the crowding and social distancing protocols the restaurant is using. Some customers will want to know if your servers will be putting on nose masks and gloves when attending to them
Having this feature give you the opportunity to allay your customers’ fears and assure them that their safety comes first.
Communication is of utmost importance, especially in the covid-19 era.
Customers will want to get information about their next dining experience in real-time. Reservation software enables you to reach out to customers via email or SMS with important updates.
As you adjust to changing health and safety guidelines, you want to keep your customers informed.
If, for instance, you are changing your floor layout as a result of changing health policies, let your guests know. This removes the surprise factor and helps your guests make the best choice.
You can also use the reservation software as a channel to get customer feedback on their last visit. It goes without saying that customer feedback is crucial to improving your service.
This is one problem restaurant owners/managers love to hate.
No-shows represent a lost opportunity to sell an otherwise valuable table space to another customer. It had always been a concern for restaurant managers long before the pandemic struck.
When you throw covid-19 into that situation, you’d get a completely different kettle of fish.
Now, while you cannot control the decisions of your guests, you can use reservation software to reduce the frequency of no-shows.
Using the messaging feature on reservation, you can send reminders to your guests days ahead of time. As a result, you get to know early on if a guest will honour their reservations.
Fortunately, sending reminders and confirmation is an automatic process with reservation software. This means you do not have to manually type out and send reminders to each guest.
Advanced And Accurate Reporting
While we are hopeful that guests return to eating out when restaurants reopen, there’s really no way to know for certain.
It’s safe to say that most restaurants that will open will be fighting with their hands tied behind them.
That’s scary but true.
Given this uncertainty, actionable data will be invaluable to restaurant managers for reopening. Every piece of information will help to make sense of the chaos.
You can use reservation software to know how your restaurant is doing by monitoring daily, weekly, or monthly bookings. With an intuitive analytic report, you can clearly see how much cash flow you have, and make necessary adjustments.
You can sync the data from reservation software with Wi-Fi marketing and analytics platform like SpotOn Wi-Fi. What this does is that it gives you an incredible amount of reliable data to work with.
Record Of Guests
Contact tracing is a thing now.
To curb the spread of the virus, it has become crucial to be able to tell who went where and when. And so, contact tracing is simply a way to track the movement of people and who they been in contact with.
This helps health workers track the path of spread if a person is suspected to be infected with the virus.
With that said, restaurants need a way to keep records of everyone who has dined with them.
Reservation software helps with contact tracing as they keep an accurate record of all bookings. And how many of those reservations were honoured.
What makes reservation technology great for this is that customers provide personal details like real names, email, and phone number. And even when customers come physically to book reservations, they can quickly create a profile on the platform.
The covid-19 storm is slowly passing and we can see a little sunlight pierce through the dark cloud.
However, it is definitely going to get a bit hard before it gets better.
Reservation software will help reduce the uncertainty that will hit the restaurant industry on reopening. Its 9 amazing benefits will ensure that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Find out how to prepare your staff for reopening.
Even better, you can amplify these benefits by combining reservation software with Wi-Fi analytics software.
SpotOn Wi-Fi allows you to collect data through your free social Wi-Fi. The data is collected in real-time and is an accurate representation of your customer behaviour. Our platform has a robust dashboard where data is represented in forms that are easy to interpret and apply.
Want to know more?
Contact us and we will fill you in no signups required.POSTED ON August 21, 2020