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People discussing restaurant reservation software and the value of the personal touch with guests.

Nov 24

My Boss Is Almost Sold On Restaurant Reservation Software But Says ...

You've done the hard work of convincing ownership that they need Restaurant Reservation Software, But they say "We Value The Personal Touch With Our Guests".  How do you overcome some of the reasons they now put forward?  Here are 5 typical guest related concerns.

1. We value the personal touch with our guests.  How do we make sure the online reservation process is right for everyone?

Restaurant Reservation products should allow your guests to book online 24 hours a day with the secure knowledge that their reservation will be honored at your restaurant. Some products allow you to personalize the email confirmation and even send a reminder 24 hours prior to the booking. This elevates the professional status of your restaurant and it's 100% automated. Some products also allow you to identify VIP guests and send you a special notification when they make a reservation.

With respect to "personal touch" some systems provide feature rich guest profiles that allow for 3-4 telephone numbers, different email addresses, company affiliations, booker referrals and various guest note fields.  Some provide membership associations and "personal profile" parameters that guests can complete online.

These detailed guest profiles are a treasure find for restaurant marketing since you should be able to segment the customer base and send targeted email or text blasts that speak to each segment of your customer base. 


2. We know we can I put the online reservations link on our website, but what about the restaurant listing websites?

Yes, it's important that the online reservation widget is embedded directly into the restaurant website so the restaurant receives the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits when your guests make bookings. Reservation products that redirect your guest to their own website are getting that SEO credit and that is not to your long-term best interests. The SEO credit determines where your website ranks when someone does a search online. The more traffic your online reservation widget on your website attracts, the easier it is for online searchers to find your restaurant on page one of Google and the other search engines.

Once guests know they can reserve a table online, you will see a gradual switch to 75% or more of bookings being made online vs. those phoned into the restaurant. This saves valuable staff time and no lost opportunities.

The online reservation link should also be included in the restaurant profile on restaurant listing sites.  There now is a simple way to include the reservation link on the restaurant Facebook page.  The more online presence the restaurant has, along with easy access to the reservation link will increase the volume of the online bookings significantly.  


3. Will I have a problem getting my customer list from the reservation system company?  I like to send updates or newsletters to my customers once or twice a month.

This is a show stopper. Your customers belong to you, not the reservation software provider. Make sure the provider you select gives you 24/7 access to your entire customer database. Also make sure they give you a 100% guarantee that they will not market to your customers or contact them in any way.  It's a well guarded secret that some reservation providers assume ownership of your customer list as part of their service terms.  Some reservation system providers actually run campaigns, on behalf of local competing restaurants, that target your customers.


4. What if a guest wants to cancel a reservation made online?

Some reservation software products offer the option for a guest to click on a cancellation link in the email confirmation that was sent at the time of the online reservation. The guest simply selects the link and the system takes them to the page to confirm cancellation of the reservation.  This automatically should change the status of the reservation to cancelled, but should not delete the reservation entirely.

If you choose not to enable online cancellations, the original email confirmation should display your restaurant's phone number and advise them to call directly if they need to cancel or change any details.


5.  We have a diverse customer base, some like email other don't? How do we keep everyone happy?

All online restaurant reservations providers provide email confirmations, some also provide text confirmations, some provide both and others also provide voice automated attendant services, but the latter is for another discussion.  

The trends are changing across the globe.  Asia has moved almost entirely to text communications and that wave is hitting Europe now.  The growing school of thought is that email will soon be dropped as the primary means for time sensitive communications.  Until that time it's best to find a reservation system provider that supply both email and text for guest level communications.  Some systems leave it up to the guest to indicate their preference and then tailor communications by guest.


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