No Shows and the Damaging Effect on Restaurants’ Business

What are No Shows

The term ‘no show’ refers to someone who agrees to be somewhere and then doesn’t show up. This could be on a date, a doctor’s appointment, a hairdressers or for a table reserved in a restaurant. The focus of this article will be the no shows at a restaurant, people who book a table and then don’t appear.

No shows used to be rather rare but in recent times have become a lot more common and are costing restaurants money.

Times have Changed

In the good old days when a special occasion came around you would choose a restaurant, phone them up well in advance and say the date and time you wanted to book. They would confirm the details with you and tell you they were looking forward to seeing you. Transaction completed; verbal contract agreed.

Times have changed now and going out for dinner is not just reserved for special occasions. As a very social bunch we now go out for dinner when ever we feel like it, which is great! But we are doing it in a very different way.

Online Booking Systems

With the ever increasing technology in our lives, we now expect to be able to organise all the things we want to do on our phone or computer, without having to interact directly with another person. This now applies to booking a table at a restaurant. With access to sites like Opentable, Resdiary and Quandoo you can book a table at a restaurant for tonight or whenever you like with just a few clicks. It is fast, convenient and impersonal.

And here we have the main problem.

No Shows are Costing Restaurants

The total cost of no-shows to UK pubs and restaurants is estimated at £16 billion a year. By having such an easy, faceless way to book, people forget that there is actually someone on the other end relying on that business. The Scotsman recently had an article about the effect of no shows in the town of St Andrew’s and what restaurateurs are doing to tackle the problem https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/masterchef-star-hits-out-at-scourge-of-no-show-diners-1-4930803 . The question is, do the public even realise there is a problem? Do they know that by booking a table (or even sometimes tables at multiple locations) they are taking it out of commission? That the restaurant might not be taking other bookings or turning away walk in’s because they are under the assumption that the people who booked the table are actually going to come?

Why aren’t people Showing Up

So, why aren’t people showing up? What is causing the rise of the no show? One reason people gave in research conducted by Thefork, was that having used a table booking site they couldn’t contact the restaurant to cancel. The system was too complicated and didn’t have the information the needed. Another reason was they had completely forgotten about the booking and therefore did not attend. Some people said that as it had been done online it wasn’t a big deal to make multiple bookings to see what they fancied at the time and then not show up at the others, that no one was hurt.

  • Couldn’t cancel
  • System too complicated
  • Forgotten about the booking
  • Made multiple bookings
  • Couldn’t be bothered

No Shows do Hurt

But people are hurt. Restaurants take advance bookings and from the number of diners they place food orders to their suppliers, they spend time doing prep and they need to have enough staff in ready. If the table of four or six that has made a reservation are no shows, there is a lot of cost involved.

Is there a Solution?

Luckily for the restaurants and those customers who do want to cancel in advance, systems are becoming available that hope to reduce the number of no shows!