How to choose your table reservation software

From the Co-Founders

We’re sharing anything from important milestones, key developments, and sometimes simply our angle on what’s happening. 

There are many different software solutions for accepting table reservations and it’s not always easy to group the different options into categories where one can easily evaluate the pros and cons of each. After almost 10 years in helping our restaurants accepting table reservations and always working on a case-by-case basis we have finally decided to group the major options in 4 main categories and highlight the workflow of each so that you can easily decide what is best suited with your business.

The Classic Booking Form

The reason why this is a classic is because of the sheer volume in implementation, it’s simply one of the most widely used systems probably due to it’s bare-bone simplicity, customisation options and effective deployment.
Process
  1. Customers fill in a booking form on your site.
  2. Restaurant receives email notification with booking details.
  3. Restaurant replies to confirm availability.
Pros
It’s simple, straight forward, and can be styled to match your exact branding guidelines from font types to colour schemes for a perfect look and feel and a seamless match with the rest of your site. Filling is is really express.
Cons
Users have to wait for an email reply from the restaurant, therefore time needed for confirmation of availability is dependent on the restaurant’s reply time.

The Classic Booking Form + Online Deposit

Same as above with the added feature for deposit payments. This requests clients to pay a deposit online for securing their table.
Process
  1. Customers fill in a booking form on your site.
  2. Restaurant receives email notification with booking details.
  3. Restaurant replies with a confirmation of availability and a deposit link.
  4. Customer submits payment.
Pros
Reduces cancellations and if any happen the restaurant is compensated by holding the deposit. Restaurant owners know what cancellations can mean to their business, and by them properly securing their tables the advantages are obvious. This option also shares all benefits of the classic booking form.
Cons
Users must first wait for a confirmation of availability from the restaurant prior to paying online for the deposit. This is vital because deposits are to be paid only when availability is confirmed. Really and truly, this is more procedure than drawback.

Real Time Confirmations

Restaurant owners have an app where to confirm bookings in real time. The app rings to alert your staff and your staff simply hits a button to accept. The App automatically notifies the person requesting the booking.
Prosess
  1. Customer places booking request via website
  2. Staff receives real time notification on app and confirms availability
  3. Customer receives instant notification on both site and via email
Pros
Simplest scenario possible, the staff can simply accept or reject bookings with a click of a button and any email notifications are automatically issued. Customers are immediately notified.
Cons
Virtually none.

Fully Automated Bookings

Fully automated bookings have a smart diary which controls your capacity and availability, the booking flow is entirely automated.
Process
The smart diary is part and parcel with the booking software, because the booking software needs accurate and on time info to display actual info. The diary is automatically updated when someone books online however this is not the case when someone books through other channels such as chat, email, at the restaurant itself, or via chat be it Facebook Chat or WhatsApp. Therefore when non-integrated channels are used by clients for bookings, the staff must quickly update the diary in order to keep it “smart”. The process outlined below assumes that the smart diary is properly updated.
  1. Users views in real time the available booking options
  2. User confirms booking
  3. Smart Diary is automatically updated with this info
Pros
Instant placement of booking and confirmations.
Cons
Even though no manual intervention is required on the web channel, this is still required on other channels. Every time a booking is made on-premises, by phone, email, via Facebook chat or WhatsApp the diary must be updated immediately otherwise a double-booking would occur.
Do we have a preference? Not really, in fact we implement all of these for our clients! Some options are good for who is old-school while some other options are better for who is tech-savvy. Our job is not to have a preference but rather to put all our effort to understand the requirements of restaurant owners, and that is what we do… daily!
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