It’s 4pm and Jen the hostess is on the floor. She takes out the big black reservation book and begins her shift by looking at a long chicken-scratched list of reservations and organizes them into time slots. Then, using a laminated map of the restaurant, she marks out the first round of reserved tables.
Applying her best guesswork, Jen maps out the second round of reservations by accounting two hours for the first seating, and mapping the second seating on top of that, guesstimating how long each party will need. It’s a full night for reservations and it’s off to a promising start – as long as all tables advance as anticipated.
And all is well until table five decides to camp out, a birthday party orders an extra round of desserts, and the couple in the corner has a heart-to-heart while the bill sits on the edge of the table untouched. Now Jen has to answer to the hungry (and hangry) patrons in the doorway as to why their table isn’t ready when their reservation was for twenty minutes ago.
Poor Jen needs backup – or a better system.
Enter the restaurant waitlist app. A revolutionized process, hosting just got ten times easier. With these modern tools, hosts are more organized and saved from the wrath of irritated customers, and guests have more freedom and waste less time waiting for their table. While hosting will never be an exact science for restaurants with a constant lineup out the door, there are numerous new strategies and capabilities that many restaurant apps are employing to smooth the process for both customers and hosts to keep guests walking in – and prevent them from walking out.
1. Table Assignment and Management
Most new waitlist apps digitally prioritize diners for hosts so that they can review all their reservations in chronological order and filter according to party size.
2. Table-ready Alerts
For guests who’ve already made reservations, there are now features that will SMS text guests when their table is set and prepared. Their table is ready when they arrive. This feature is especially great for business meetings on a tight schedule or where one is out to woo their dinner guest.
3. Loyalty Program
Waits happen and expectations get dashed, so try a wait list app with a loyalty program to reward customers that waited an excessive amount of time. Guests can enroll on their own – on their phone – and cash in that free drink or enjoy those appetizers on the house when they sit down, or ideally, come back again.
4. SMS and Phone Call Notifications
Remember the buzzer? Once upon a time, when a restaurant was full, you’d be handed an electronic disk and were then corralled into the waitlist pen where you would wait with bated breath for your disk to buzz and light up? No more. Now restaurant apps allow hosts to text or call a guest when the table is ready. That way they’re free to leave and otherwise occupy themselves until their table is ready.
Try: On Cue
Many apps now include downloadable analytics so that you can substantiate your wait list time guestimations with actual evidence based on your restaurant’s history. Find out your average table time according to a three course meal, dinner, or a casual round of drinks so that you can continue to improve service and anticipate your customer’s needs.
Try: No Wait
There are numerous waitlist apps available that can make your reservations run more efficiently, making for happier customers and stress-free hosts!
About the Author
Jackie is a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro. She covers the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.More Content by Jackie Prange