Hitting Restaurant Diners with a no show charge – is there a better way?

Date: 25-10-2011

The Daily Telegraph had a story recently about Sydney’s Quay restaurant planning to start charging $165 for diners that don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. This comes at a time when only last month another article in The Herald Sun talked about how hard it was to get a booking, especially on Saturday nights. Some of the top restaurants, including Attica, are booked out on a Saturday night until next year.

Quay owner, John Fink, was quoted as saying that charging cancellation fees was distasteful, but they had no other option after a spate of no shows on busy nights.

Chef Peter Gilmore at Quay Restaurant. Picture: Rohan Kelly Source: The Daily Telegraph

Quay Restaurant has 3 staff dedicated to bookings. Some people, including international celebrities have been making bookings at a range of restaurants and deciding at the last minute which one they wanted to attend.

Top end restaurant Marque had a large table of no shows and Marque’s chef Mark Best tweeted, “5 pax no show. 10% of seating = no profit for tonight.” Restaurants like Marque have done the hard work, with creating brilliant meals and doing an excellent job of marketing their restaurants.

Mark Best. Rene Redzepi. Esquire.

Is there a solution? I would think that a twitter account for a high end restaurant with a waiting list would work a treat. Twitter marketing for restaurants is a cheap and effective way to get those quick and short messages out. Turn up no later than 20 minutes or you lose your table. For high class restaurants building a large number of Twitter followers should be fairly easy, especially when people get to know that it is where the wait list is notified.

These restaurants recognise yield management is the key and that an empty seat on any night is a wasting asset. You either fill it or you lose it. Twitter is the perfect marketing tool for this. Once it looks like there are some seats going free, Tweet it to all of your followers and with have a premium restaurant, you shouldn’t have any trouble filling the seats. If your restaurant is not quite so premium, maybe a special offer is the way to go. Airlines are the experts at this, playing with the price right up to before the flight goes. You will rarely pay the same price as the person sitting next to you. Either way, remember to fill em or lose em!

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