Restaurant bookings surge 88% ahead of reopening

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Empty restaurant terrace during quarantine against coronavirus - Covid-19.
Some venues such as pubs and cafes have also invested vast amounts of money to accommodate guests as Brits prepare to visit their favourite restaurants after the coronavirus lockdowns. Photo: Getty

Restaurants have seen a surge in outdoor bookings ahead of their planned reopening on Monday 12 April. 

According to TheFork, formally Bookatable, there has been an 88% increase in bookings. 

But, while there has been a "phenomenal increase" since Boris Johnson confirmed earlier this week that restaurants can reopen, the company has said there are risks of people not turning up. 

TheFork said that "No-shows" will hinder post-COVID hospitality recovery as the sector attempts to overcome the carnage of closures and job losses caused by the crisis. 

"On average 98% of people who book through TheFork don't miss bookings, and its vital people turn up, or cancel if they're no longer able to attend," said Patrick Hooykaas, UK managing director at TheFork. 

He added: "The most expensive thing to a restaurant manager is an empty table, because it costs the same amount empty as it does full. Empty tables are also unlikely to be filled at such short notice, as the industry places greater emphasis on bookings over walk ins in its post-Covid recovery."

This could impact businesses that were forced to overhaul their models in accordance with government measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some venues such as pubs and cafes have also invested vast amounts of money to accommodate guests as Brits prepare to visit their favourite restaurants after the coronavirus lockdowns. 

Pub and bar operator Punch Pubs said it invested £1m ($1.4m) in its beer gardens and outside spaces.

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The company also warned of "anonymous bookings" adding those" booking multiple venues and hoarding" the tables regardless of whether they use them will hugely impact the sector's hopes of recovery. 

Hooykaas continued: "We’ve been working hard to develop tools for restaurateurs to reduce the number of no-shows. The best tactic we have is to make the diner feel responsible for their booking, while reintroducing the human dimension in this online interaction. Implementing these tools helped us take 90% of the small proportion of our customers who have been no-shows in the past to the point where they didn’t miss a booking in six months.

"We help to combat the risk of no-shows by only displaying live restaurant availability, sending booking reminders, and by only allowing people to make one booking for a time slot in our system. If we could make one appeal in the lead up to the reopening it would be to book carefully, and cancel any bookings they can’t make with as much notice as possible. These are common courtesies but we also need to support the hospitality industry more now than ever before."

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