Why Waitlist Apps Are Replacing Reservation Systems

Can a Waitlist App Replace a Reservation System? 

The short answer: in most cases, yes. 

By now, everyone has heard over and over again how restaurants operate on razor-thin margins and the pandemic has made everything even messier. But most people don’t seem to understand how big of a financial, organizational, and moral blow a no-show can be to the restaurant and staff. 

According to The Wall St Journal, 20% of diners who make reservations never show up. And since the pandemic began, some industry experts think that percentage should be even higher. That’s a HUGE loss night after night, no matter what your margins are. 

The problems that come with diners arriving late or not showing up can be eliminated by just not taking reservations at all (or as frequently). And there’s been an industry shift away from reservations over the last decade. Which begs the question: should you replace your reservation system with a Waitlist app? 

Pro’s of a walk-in only policy:

  • Significantly reduce no-shows
  • Increase your revenue
  • Less overhead costs – Less FOH staff to manage reservations and take calls
  • Faster table turns – no empty seats waiting for reservations
  • More pre-dinner sales at bar
  • Marketing with a Virtual Waiting Room during wait times
  • Scarcity creates exclusivity

Earn more with a Waitlist App

First of all, a wait can be really good marketing. Especially these days, where dining out is seen as entertainment in itself, people are more willing to wait as it has become part of the experience. If you have regular volume and have no problems filling tables, then a walk-in policy can boost your bottom line and save you some headaches. 

Restaurateurs have learned that there’s a need to use new systems to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their investment. (ie. the chairs). By using the queue management system, restaurants are able to make sure each seat is promptly filled when a table opens up, providing updates and information in the custom Virtual Waiting Room. 

“20% to 25%: Estimated revenue bump a busy restaurant receives from allowing walk-ins only, rather than reservations” The Globe and Mail

If you’re going to have a wait, make sure the check in process and wait are as easy and informative as possible. The last thing you want is for your guest to have a BAD wait.

First off, self service check-in options are pretty much mandatory at this point, especially if there’s not always an employee there to greet everyone. Kiosks, QR codes, and website widgets are some of the ways you can enable your guests to easily join the waitlist. Waitlist apps provide custom forms for each of these options, allowing you to gather more relevant information prior to their arrival.

Secondly, make sure to use a waitlist app with a Virtual Waiting Room. That way you can provide a transparent, informative, and engaging wait for your guests. More importantly, with a Virtual Waiting Room, you can market your menus, promotions, upcoming events, social media, and even allow pre-orders. You can display your guests’ position in line and also be informative and directional, letting your guests know exactly what to do while they wait. Monetize the wait if you can!

Find your niche but always use a Waitlist App

But a walk-in only policy doesn’t work for every single restaurant. Each has its own set of customers, culture, layout, etc. So some establishments might find a hybrid model works best, especially the upscale ones. But at the end of the day, proper queue management is necessary to manage those walk-ins. Because without walk-ins, you’re going to be left with empty seats. 

If you are going to allow reservations at your restaurant, you can still use NextME’s reservation feature to save those tables. But make sure you have a backup plan.

For more information, request a demo and speak with an expert. A better waitlist system awaits.