Using Twitter to Stop Restaurant No Shows!

Date: 29-12-2011


Our previous article about No Show charges discussed the increasing problem with No Shows for restaurants across Australia. The issue has heated up in the lead up to Christmas with one Sydney restauranteur seizing the initiative and running with the Twitter hashtag #noshowshame to name and shame people who book and don’t ring to cancel. Bistro Bruno started out by selecting the hashtag and many restaurants have been expressing support for the campaign.

It is definitely a big problem for restaurants. No shows can be a significant dent in a nights takings and sometimes mean the difference between a profit and a loss. Simon Thomsen wrote an article about Bentley Bar in Surry Hills and the no show of a large party that did not turn up for a meal and he had to turn away 4 couples. The owner of Bentley Bar, Nick Hildebrand, lost over $1,000 for the night because of the no show. He employs a waiter per 10 people, so he also had an employee without any work to do.

It is a complex situation. Customers like booking because it gives them certainty that they will be able to get a table at the restaurant that they want to eat at. Restaurants like bookings because it gives them an indication as to how busy they will be and how many chefs and waiters they will need, but no shows create a big problem. Customers are turned away and seats are left unfilled.

Some of the solutions are:

  • – Taking a booking fee when the booking is taken;
  • – Charging the entire fee (easy when it is a fixed degustation menu) on booking;
  • – Not taking bookings at all – just queue up and get a table when you can;

Of course some of these things will work for the ultra premium restaurants, but for those without a leading name, it will be a lot harder to enforce.

One solution I think is to build up a ready waiting list of Twitter followers who will be able to snap up those last minute bookings. If you are more than 15 minutes late, you could lose your table and it gets tweeted out there to all of the followers. Some people will be in the area, ready to take up the offer. For premium restaurants, that may be enough, for some, an offer of a free entr‚e or dessert may get those unfilled tables filled.

Nick Hildebrand sees no shows as such a big issue that he spends time calling bookings to confirm that they are still coming. Obviously it is important to ensure that all of the seats are filled, but his time and his team’s time would surely be better spent preparing to cook and serve the best food possible, so clearly something needs to be done to decrease the number of no shows, so that customers don’t need to be called.

Here are some of the tweets that have been flowing through the Twitterverse over the last few weeks.

No shows are the reason good customers have to deal with no bookings policies @pandabelle @furry_jen @ChefValvasori #noshowshame

@BistroBruno: Official hash tag for outing no shows is #noshowshame pls RT.

#noshowshame RT @buzo_trattoria: to name & shame “business” booked for 8, no show & then admit they booked 5 other places & didn’t call

This is amazing, a business booking at 5 different restaurants. They should definitely be named and shamed. It is ridiculous to think that it is that hard to decide where you want to eat and need to book in at 5 restaurants and no show at 4 of them.

@michaelmooresyd #noshowshame congratulations Michael. This is a great idea. Fully support it and will be spreading the word

LeighMcDivitt 12 no shows tonight thanks to baker(6), Skyes(2), Miki(4) #noshowshame

Leigh McDivitt, the head chef at 3 Weeds in Rozelle was the first person to actually no show shame someone. Twelve no shows. That’s got to hurt and the financial impact is what is driving restaurants to take these measures.

buzo trattoria Mmmmmm to name & shame a “business” who booked for 8@7pm, no show & then admit they booked 5 other places….. & didn’t call to cxl. ???

@DanDoherty_ Absolutely! Imagine losing 32 covers in your restaurant in one of the busiest nights of the year!#noshowshame

michaelmooresyd Michael Moore by BistroBruno In a week since i really started #noshowshame i have reduced no show in half ,customers supporting my actions even leaving tweet when booking

@LeighMcDivitt had a 13 no show on sat night even called them through the day to confirm. Small towns even harder.

michaelmooresyd Michael Moore “@kevhussey: I support you chef, for us customers I think it’s disrespectful to restaurants and other customers who want to dine!” Thank You

The problem isn’t unique to Australia with it being picked up by Daniel Doherty, the Head Chef at The Old Brewery in Greenwich in the UK.

@DanDoherty_ the Aussies have started this hash tag for naming and outing no shows#noshowshame. We should copy.

I think it really comes down to educating customers to the impact that a no show has on a business.#noshowshame seems a bit harsh, until you think about the impact on a small business that is operating off often razor thin margins. Hopefully customers will get the message that No Shows are no good.

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