In Italy, more and more restaurants are using Superb’s Guest Experience Management platform (GXM) to implement credit card guarantees and no-show fees to protect their business. And the results speak for themselves.
“Our online booking system (Superb’s GXM) has helped us stem the phenomenon of no-shows that has become rampant after Covid,” says Lorenzo Costa, owner of Ahimè e Oltre in Bologna.
During Covid, it seems many diners got used to the freedom of not cancelling a dinner reservation. The virus, fear, government restrictions, social-distancing guidelines — these were excuses that customers were comfortable using as reasons for not showing up.
“Covid became an excuse that made people think they can cancel at the last minute without problems. Often, the no-show fee doesn’t apply if someone pulls a no-show because of Covid, even if the restaurant doesn’t ask for a certificate or proof,” adds Costa.
With the relaxation of pandemic-related rules, Costa feels the situation has only worsened in Italy. “The catering sector has experienced a boom. People want to return to going out and consequently, finding a place is more difficult. I have the feeling that people are booking several places at a time and deciding where to go at the last minute. Sometimes they cancel at the other restaurants or they just don’t show up at all.”
From the north to the south, no-shows are a growing trend that affects every restaurant.
“The no-show is the most serious form of disrespect towards the restaurateur and the restaurant. Since the pandemic, it happens even more often. It's like going to a shop, taking some clothes and leaving without paying. Every seat is a lost cover, lost time and organisation. It’s a very serious problem,” says Valentina Rizzo, chef and owner of Farmacia dei Sani in Ruffano (Lecce).
Chef Rizzo notes that it’s not because customers are scared to go out after Covid. It’s something deeper — a lack of respect for the people behind the restaurant. “When we reopened after the first lockdown, we followed all guidelines. Tables were 2 metres apart, etc. People still didn’t show up for their reservations. That was when I realised that people did not really have respect for the situation we’re all facing.”
Restaurants like Oltre and Farmacia dei Sani are using Superb’s Guest Experience Management platform (GXM) to better manage the flow of customers, the organisation of the dining room and the service.
GXM is more than just an online reservations system. It’s a way to totally protect yourself from last-minute cancellations and no-shows. Both GXM Lite and GXM Pro offer no-show protection such as credit card guarantees for bookings, prepayments, and email and SMS confirmations. Plus, the platform includes automated waiting lists that are useful for filling a no-show table at the last minute. If that doesn’t work, there’s even the possibility of creating a blocklist of repeat no-show offenders.
The way GXM collects guest data is the biggest game-changer for Italian restaurants in the fight against no-shows. “The more data you leave, the less likely you are to behave badly. By leaving personal contact details — from an email address to a phone number — people are more willing to behave better,” observes Lorenzo Costa.
But even with all of the guest data and restaurant technology available, “You reduce forgetfulness, but you can’t stem rudeness,” continues the Bolognese restaurateur.
Even a preventive phone call doesn’t always help, notes Valentina Rizzo. “It’s almost a case of people doing what they want. They book at 9 and arrive at 11. Or they book 3 different restaurants and choose at the last minute. It would never happen at the bank or a lawyer’s office.”
Taking reservations online and using GXM has helped restaurants gain the organisation and control over their bookings that they’ve previously lacked. Valentina Rizzo says, “Two years ago, before moving to online reservations, we called every table on the day of their bookings. But despite everything, some people did not show up.
Today, we ask for a deposit. If you don’t show up within time, you’re charged a no-show fee. It’s a negligible amount and we still lose money. But this fee made people let us know in case they weren’t coming. Everyone afraid of losing money arrives on time. For us, it’s the best solution.”
There is a silver lining to the rise in post-pandemic no-shows — an increase in walk-ins. Lorenzo Costa explains, “In the face of increased no-shows, the number of people who try to enter and ask for a table has also increased.”
More good news is that no-shows are a trend. While that may sound like the opposite of good news, here’s what we mean — all trends fade and come to an end. But that only happens if more and more restaurants join together and take action.
Whether it’s with no-show fees and credit card imprints or prepaid tickets for every meal, restaurants are positioned in a difficult spot. Either they keep going with the trend or they start changing diners' behaviour.
We vote for change.
With prepaid tickets, deposits, prepayments and credit card confirmation, book a free demo and see how Superb’s GXM platform can help protect your restaurant.