Frustration about no-shows

Reserved and set, but the guest does not come. No-shows are an expensive nuisance in the gastronomy.
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Reserved and set, but the guest does not come. No-shows are an expensive nuisance in the gastronomy.

Short-term cancellations of guests are annoying for every restaurant operator. After all, merchandise is kept in stock and staff is scheduled accordingly. What hosts do about it.

Many hosts know the problem: The evening is planned, various reservations are already fixed and the preparations as well as the purchase are locked. Suddenly, cancellations arrive shortly beforehand. That is not nice, because often the places can be occupied no more so fast otherwise and the landlords stand then under circumstances with too much commodity and personnel there. A loss-making business is imminent.

Several cancellations for one evening

After such a long lean period as after the corona-conditioned forced closure such an evening hurts all the more. Such was the case at Auberge de Temple (Johannesberg) last weekend. "What's going on there? Of course, there are days with short-term cancellations now and then. Despite everything, it's really annoying. The first cooking class after 19 months. An hour before the start comes a more than short notice cancellation. Today at noon then a cancellation of six people for tonight, because one person is ill. A short time later another cancellation for tonight. And just now the next cancellation", host Ludger Helbig writes his frustration off his chest.

"We buy the goods, organize and prepare everything in advance for the reserved number of people. Cancel possibly other guests, who booked now already a new restaurant and a waiting list does not always make sense. Dear guests, we really can't afford empty tables after being closed for so long due to the lockdown. And certainly not on a Saturday night. There are already tables missing to be able to keep the distance, because we drive a strict hygiene concept. No operation can work like that!", Helbig continues.

Advance payment as an effective remedy

Similarly Sabine Stocker from Munich reports: "We can understand them well. Even here in Munich, a party service is ordered for 50 people and one day before everything is reordered for 25 people! Thank goodness that's the minority, although some days they step onto the trapeze in a clenched way."

The credo of some other comments under the post of Ludger Helbig is clear: In the future require advance payment! Some restaurateurs are already taking this step: top chef Christian Bau, for example, has been charging 200 euros per guest by credit card for reservations since March last year.
"Unfortunately, the experiences from last year force us to take this step, because the rate of no-shows and last-minute cancellations has continued to increase over the last few months. In our small restaurant, every free table results in a loss of turnover of around 10 percent", the 3-star chef explained.

25 Euro minimum per person

Bar legend Joerg Meyer has also introduced online reservations with mandatory deposits at his bar Le Lion in Hamburg. Guests pay 25 euros per person in advance when making a reservation. If the reservation is cancelled at short notice, the sum remains at le Lion as a no-show fee. This provides more planning security as far as turnover is concerned. In addition, a minimum consumption is due: the 25 euros per person and visit will be charged in any case, even if the guest consumes less.

The problem around no-shows is also known to the online table reservation portal Open Table. "No-Shows is a very important topic and certainly currently - due to limited capacities - more important than ever. Therefore, we are continuously in close exchange with our restaurant partners and are working on improving the functionality of our technology so that guests book responsibly and keep their reservations," says Daniel Simon, Country Manager Open Table Germany. And so restaurants can accept credit card guarantees for reservations, if needed, whether for the entire service or just for evening reservations. Certain experiences could be offered besides against pre-payment, so Simon further.

In addition, he said, the rule applies that guests who fail to honor their reservations four times in a 12-month period will no longer be able to make reservations through the portal. And it is not possible for guests to make several reservations for the same period of time as well as two hours before or after a reservation, Simon stressed. The portal did not want to disclose concrete figures on the annual share of no-shows in the total reservations made in Germany when asked.