How to Avoid No-Shows in 2019


Has your business been plagued by guests not showing up to or canceling their reservations? Here are 10 ways to avoid or prevent no-shows in your restaurant.

1. Provide a Window

Give guests a set period of time before giving away the table – around 15 minutes is usually a good standard. Some restaurants choose to extend the window if guests call ahead and let the restaurant know that they are running late, which is simply good customer service.

2. Sell Tickets

Creating a ticket system for the restaurant will guarantee you your revenue, even if the guests don’t show up. This does require for you to have a somewhat set menu choice (maybe 3-4 courses) or a fixed pricing system for your courses, in order to make it work. Few of the most modern systems today enables restaurants to create, handle events and manage the payments without the need for a third party to handle the payment process – simple and easy.

3. Make it a Gift card

Rather than charging customers money they won’t get back, refund the no-show fee as a gift card. This gives patrons a reason to stop by your restaurant again, so you may be able to serve them at a later date and turn them into long-term customers. With some of the newest systems today, it’s very easy to make gift cards in one integrated system, so it won’t be too much of a hassle and you won’t need several systems to handle your guests and gift cards.

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4. Help Customers Remember

Another popular way of minimizing no-shows is to have a reminder system. which can either be automatic or manual. This way, the guest could get a notification maybe 1 month before, a few days before and on the day of the reservation and you can also ask them to confirm the reservation each time to be completely sure. It’s worth noting that an automatic reminder system can be expensive and the manual system can be very time-consuming. Few systems do allow you to customize when reminders go out and if they should be sent by e-mail or text as well as offer to include confirmation- or payment links in order to prevent no-shows.

5. Don’t Take Reservations

Cutting reservations entirely is an incredibly risky but valid way of avoiding no-shows. This means only handling walk-ins, but the success of this method relies very much on your location and style of restaurant, so think twice before you adapt to this method.

6. Overbook

One of the more severe ways of dealing with no-shows is overbooking your restaurant for each service. This can be very effective in preventing revenue loss, but it does come with a sad downside; If all of your booked guests show up, then you have to let people wait in the bar or somewhere else for a table that they already booked and confirmed. There’s a risk that you won’t see these people again because that’s just bad hospitality.

 7. Keep Track of No-Shows

You could set a limit for how many times a guest is allowed to not show and thereafter simply not take their reservations. However, making a blacklist for the guests that don’t show up can be time-consuming and difficult to enforce but a somewhat effective way of predicting what to expect from your service.


8. Communicate the Issue

This may sound too simple to be true, but simply being upfront about the issue, asking people if they will cancel if they can’t come, and reminding them that it will hurt you if they don’t show up, can be a very good way of humanising your business and reminding your guests that there are people behind the business who are counting on them.

9. Public Shaming – Not recommended!

This extremely harsh trend we’ve seen is sparked by the overall frustration that chefs and restaurateurs feel in regards to this no-show culture. We’re seeing them take to social media to out their frustrations. Red Medicine, a restaurant in Los Angeles, named several people on Twitter who didn’t show up for their reservations, adding “All the nice guests who wonder why restaurants overbook and they sometimes have to wait for their res should thank people like those below.” Think twice before you do this, but we do understand the amount of frustration this no-show culture leads to in the long run.

10. Charge No-Shows

Lastly, what we’ve seen to prove most effective of all of these methods, is requiring credit card details when guests make a reservation, so you have the opportunity to charge a no-show fee – that you, of course, should inform the guest about at the time of the reservation. This way you’ll be covered if they should decide to not show up. Some systems allow you to decide yourself how strict you would like to be about your no-show policy (2 hours, 24 hours or maybe 48 hours) as well as set the amount of the no-show fee as you wish.

Mads Borst