Streamlining restaurant reservations by embracing digitalisation 

by | Feb 13, 2024

Almost all full-service restaurants offer customers the flexibility of making reservations or walking in and choosing an open table. This choice gives patrons more freedom to enjoy their favourite meals in their favoured F&B outlet. However, from the owners’ side, balancing reservations and walk-ins can be challenging, especially if the tables are not managed right.

The food and beverage sector has fluxing demand that depends on time and season, much like the accommodating sector. The peak hours, impulse purchasing needs, and seasonal rises in demand can make it difficult to manage the restaurant space, often leading to frustrated customers, empty tables, and loss of profits.

Steps to streamline digital reservations

Technological enhancements, such as the internet and mobile applications, have revolutionised restaurant reservation management, enabling restaurant owners to replace pen-and-paper reservations with intuitive reservation management solutions. This has helped most modern restaurants align their offerings with the expectations of modern audiences. In fact, the Global Restaurant Management Software Market size is expected to reach $10 billion by 2028.

Amidst the technology revolution, how can restaurants prepare for the changing times and streamline their reservations?

1. Empower employees to empower customers

Smooth and efficient operations are crucial for guest satisfaction. Employees are the heart of good operations that will consequently lead to a positive dining experience, especially during peak hours. By educating staff on technology management, collaborating tech with human touch and effective communication strategies, they can be guided to make the best use of new tools and devices. A well-trained workforce can help patrons get the best restaurant experience, even if they are new to making online reservations. While restaurants move in with the changing times with new technologies, their older audiences, like Boomers and Generation Y, may not follow the trends with the same speed. Yet, a skilled employee can always guide the patrons for better digital-driven experiences.

2. Communicate to guests about their reservation

Sending an email confirmation or a reminder call a day before the reservation is always a best practice when managing reservations. This can reduce the chance of no-shows if the patrons decide to cancel at the last minute. Confirmation messages also serve as an opportunity to engage with diners, create a lasting first impression, and showcase that the restaurant is willing to go further to make reservations convenient. This experience can be taken another step further if the reservation solution has integrated messaging features, such as being able to alert patrons via SMS or WhatsApp. Immediate short messages updating the reservation status are far more likely to be noticed by mobile customers. An integrated communication feature in the reservation module is a chance for restaurant brands to establish a memorable initial impression, ultimately fostering heightened guest satisfaction, building brand loyalty, and securing more bookings in the future.

3. Do not let go of the human element

While the integration of technology streamlines various aspects of restaurant operations, it is imperative that brands recognise the human element. Hospitality is inherently a human-centric industry, and customers should feel valued beyond being mere entries in a reservation system. The personal touch, warm interactions, and human engagement are vital elements that create a memorable dining experience. So, even with high-end technology in place, restaurants should maintain a balance between human touch and smart solutions. Understand that, at no point can hospitality replace entirely human labour with technology, nor can it rely on technology to cover every aspect of the guest experience. Let technology automate the reservation process, maintain real-time updates and work on the logistics, enabling the staff more free time to listen to, engage with and cater to guest requests.

4. Ensure the mobile friendliness of the software

According to HubSpot research, 55.4% of internet users use mobile phones to buy online. The pervasive use of mobile devices in contemporary society has transformed business operations and consumer behaviour. How individuals discover and book dining experiences is heavily reliant on mobile technology. To adapt to this trend, digital solutions need to be mobile-friendly. This includes optimising websites for mobile viewing, providing user-friendly menus, and investing in table reservation modules that can be hosted on mobile devices to attract and engage smartphone users. Embracing mobile-friendly practices not only caters to evolving consumer habits but also accommodates on-the-go reservations or last-minute bookings. Further, mobile-friendly technology also simplifies how the employees manage, control, and communicate reservation processes, making operational tools accessible and facilitating faster interactions.

5. Integrate the restaurant ecosystem

In the digital age, no operation or system is independent of each other. Rather, even the smallest dining outlet is one interconnected network of digital platforms ranging from front desk software and kitchen display systems to point of sales. To maximise the power of reservations, it is only smart to integrate restaurant systems with each other; restaurant reservation software should be able to be connected with the POS system. In addition, reservation software should also be able to integrate seamlessly with other systems, including customer relationship management systems, marketing tools, brand websites and third-party software. Together, an interconnected ecosystem of restaurant technology can give employees granular information about revenue, consumer behaviour and trends, empowering data-driven decision-making.

Benefits of streamlining your reservation process

The benefits of streamlining reservations are not limited to managing tables and guest bookings but also to:

  • Increasing team productivity: With intuitive reservation software, team members can accomplish more even when fewer are working. With a navigable system, employees need no special training to manage tables in a shorter time.
  • Increased revenue: Reservations can boost the bottom line by maximising restaurant capacity/ space. Convenient reservation channels work toward keeping a steady flow of guests coming and flowing throughout a shift.
  • Understand guests better: Past reservation data and guest profile maintenance reveal more about consumer preferences, where turn times could be tightened and where the workflows need to be optimised.
  • Smooth shifts: A reservations system allows restaurants to be more strategic about how, when, and with what server each group is seated. This gives a heightened level of control over the dining spaces, allowing shifts to be more strategically planned.

Reservation software is the core of enhanced dining experiences

The F&B businesses are now moving beyond the manually recorded reservation log, matching pace with the rest of the hospitality industry. It is time to look into new avenues of streamlining reservations within modern restaurants so that the sector can stay ahead of growing consumer needs and create lasting dining experiences.

Reeves Mathews | IDS NEXT


Reeves Mathews

Vice President - Global Customer Success

Reeves heads our global customer success operations, managing a team of over 100 professionals, with a mission to ensure top customer satisfaction and loyalty. He is responsible for customer engagement, technical support and key account management.