Should you allow online reservations for your restaurant?

With the rise of smartphones and our complex reliance on the internet (i.e, social media) it is more important than ever to allow your restaurant to function online as much as possible.  One of the best ways to do this is by offering your guests the ability to make online reservations.  It's quick, easy, and helps your business more than you may think. 

In a 2015 study of 6000 US consumers from across the country, online reservation giant OpenTable found that an insane 88% of diners make reservations online.  That is a huge percentage of people who prefer making reservations online over calling restaurants directly.  It's also important to note that those numbers are from 3 years ago so they've undoubtedly grown since then.  It's easier than ever to make online reservations too.  Not only can consumers access reservation systems through a restaurant's website, they can also do so via their mobile device and even with the help of Alexa devices.  If you don't have online reservations active on your website, it's time for an update.    

There are a handful of companies that specialize in online reservation systems.  They typically integrate easily with your website platform but it's a good idea to do some research to find what best fits you.

OpenTable boasts one of the largest marketing platforms with 19 million diners per month.  It's designed to fill tables and offers incentives to users which is both good and not-so-great for your restaurant.  OpenTable encourages loyalty to the app rather than your restaurant so it's important to keep that in mind if you plan on offering any promotions for reservations made online.  On the other hand, OpenTable has a great Electronic Reservation Book which does everything from table management to return guest recognition.  

Perfect for booking reservations at restaurants that offer a bit more than a meal or has a very exclusive dining room, Tock gives restaurants the option to require guests to pay ahead from $10 to the entire cost of the meal - set by the restaurant.  Tock also offers variable pricing for restaurant owners to modify costs based on less busy days and times.

With a presence in over 80 markets, Resy is a great option for restaurants who are looking to bring in a different crowd.  Resy boasts an impressive 4.8% global no show rate and currently has over 2000 venues.  Resy Fly is an impressive feature which allows you to control everything from your dining room to shift coverage.