The Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo

15 & 16 JUNE 2021


Using Technology Tools to Control Your No-shows

The words “that booking of two are a no-show” are heard daily by most restaurateurs, coming alongside the realisation that they probably turned another table away to accommodate them. In an industry where operators have to work ever-harder to turn a profit, it’s a hot topic that affects all types of venue.

But what can operators do to stop it? 

Take card details

In February 2018, 12% of bookings at Glasgow’s Porter and Rye were no-shows or late cancellations. The trendy Glasgow steakhouse takes an average spend per head of £50, so this potentially cost them almost £12,000 in just one month….It’s why they, and their sister restaurant, The Finnieston, have started to take credit card details for most of their reservations. 

The company’s owner, Scott Arnott sees this as a necessity for their business: 

“We started analysing our no-shows and the figures were shocking. We’ve decided to store card details to gain back some control. While we are in the service industry, there is the caveat that we’re still a business. People who really want a table can get one, and we’re not losing money on busy nights.”

Take full or part payment

Sean Clark cooks all of the food at ten seat Edinburgh restaurant, The Table. The acclaimed chef has a waiting list that is months long for his intimate venue and one group no-showing could turn the night into a loss-making one. Sean realised that he couldn’t run his business like that, and decided to secure all bookings at the point of reservation. He now takes full payment upfront and his no-shows have dropped to zero: 

“Since starting the ResDiary full payment system, 100% of our guests have honoured their booking with us. It means we know how many guaranteed bookings we have. We can purchase and prepare the correct amount of food to minimise food waste.”

SMS confirmations 

Peter Kinsella, owner of Liverpool and Manchester’s Lunya restaurants, likes to remind customers that they have a booking coming up. He’s aware that people have busy lives and that often they don’t deliberately miss their bookings. So he sends them a text message reminder: 

“For us, it’s about using all the tools available to us through ResDiary. We make it easy for people to book, we store card details, we take full payments for special events, we send them reminders, and we make cancellations simple through that reminder text. For the sake of a few pence for an SMS, it’s a lot cheaper than a no-show.” 

Although many venues have had success with these methods, taking payment is not without pitfalls. Without clear communication, operators can get pushback from guests who are being charged. So you need to use all the tools available, making customers aware of when and why they’ll be charged, stopping no-shows in their tracks.

Mutual confirmation

Ensure that your give a clear, prompt email or SMS confirmation to guests. Customising these with your own branding will help with guest loyalty.

Be clear about your cancellation policy

Make your customers aware of the cancellation policy and any penalties for no-showing. These can be added to your ResDiary microsite, widget, & emails so your guests are familiar with your policy. 

Make it easy to cancel

The more notice about a cancellation you encourage, the more likely you are to re-sell their table. Your online reservation system can allow customers to edit or update their reservation, within specified timeframes. 

Repeat offenders

Sometimes, certain people will just fail to turn up. If the same customer does this repeatedly, you can block them from making online bookings via ResDiary or your site.

In 2017, ResDiary processed three times more online bookings than 2014. As consumers accept online bookings, acceptance of tech, including payment tech is growing. Venues that embrace market changes will have better opportunities to drive more bookings and curb no-shows. And with ResDiary they can do all of that, with no booking commissions. 

Find out more (Linked to


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