Table Management Best Practices for Bars and Nightclubs During COVID-19

a photo of Mikayla Walzog

Mikayla Walzog

5 min read

Aug 12, 2020

Table Management Best Practices for Bars and Nightclubs During COVID-19

Bars and nightclubs were shut down in most of North America during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, some are reopening as restrictions lift.

If your bar or nightclub is reopening, table management will be critical to ensuring the health of your guests and your business. Here’s how to manage your tables and bar seats to maximize profits while adhering to safety measures that protect guest and staff health.

We’re sharing the best table management tips for a safe COVID-19 bar and nightclub experience including:

Focusing on reservations across your tables & bar seats
Sharing COVID-19 protocols with customers
Using virtual waitlists for walk-ins
Spacing out timing between your table reservations
Enforcing time limits on seatings

Place an emphasis on reservations

Since capacity is limited, it’s important to have control over how many parties are inside your venue at any given time. Reservations can do this for you. Plus, in areas that require contact tracing for bars and clubs to reopen, reservations allow you to keep a record of who’s coming in and going out of your establishment. To reopen safely, it’s also important to put a cap on the number of guests per reservation to ensure correct capacity limits.

Requiring reservations is a simple solution to these challenges, providing a seamless way for guests to enjoy your venue as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Communicate to your guests via your website, social media, and email newsletter that you strongly suggest they make reservations, helping to create a safe environment for those visiting.

Share COVID-19 protocols via your reservations platform

While you can still accept reservations over the phone, it’s smart to move your reservations online. Why? Online reservations platforms let you customize messaging.

You can use your online reservation platform to set expectations for your guests by:

Sharing your COVID-19 safety measures and protocols (social distancing, wearing masks, etc.) so that guests know what they’ll encounter when they visit.
Letting guests opt into the safety behaviors they’ll need to follow at your bar or nightclub. Headliner Oasis in New Jersey uses their reservation platform to enforce governmental regulations about table reservations during COVID-19.
Telling guests for what length of time they’ll have the table they’ve reserved. Time limits will make it easier for your team to sanitize between seatings and manage guest flow.

Headliner Oasis’ website highlights key COVID-related regulations

Use a virtual waitlist for walk-ins

If you choose to accept walk-ins at your venue, swap your traditional waitlist for a virtual, contactless one. A virtual waitlist can help your bar enforce social distancing. Remote waitlist management eliminates the need for guests to crowd around the host stand for a table or seat.

With a virtual waitlist, guests can add themselves to the list from their phones or computers. That way they only need to approach the host stand after they’ve been notified of their table or bar seats opening up via SMS.

Space out your reservations during COVID-19

Block off time between seatings so that your team has ample time to sanitize tables before new guests arrive. Fifteen minutes between parties should be enough time to sanitize surfaces like tables and booths between each use. Give guests disposable menus and glasses to ensure maximum safety.

Enforce time limits on reservations to keep your table management efforts in check

When customers book tables or bar seats on your online reservations platform, let them know that the reservation is for a limited time. Include start and end times for the reservation on your reservations platform, so that customers have an idea of how long they’ll have the table or bar seats. This also helps you manage capacity and spacing within your venue.

For example, instead of just showing “6 p.m.” as the reservation time, make it “6-7:30 p.m.”

Have guests opt in to accepting your reservations policy, which explains that they’ll need to leave by the end of their time slot.

Train staff to enforce the time limits by politely reminding guests when they have 15 minutes left in their reservation.

Implement contactless ordering

Contactless ordering technology can help you speed up table turnover, which is the key to running a profitable bar or nightclub. When guests place contactless orders through their smartphones, they’ll pay for their cocktails or bottle service as soon as they place the order.

When you eliminate the time it takes for a customer to call a server over and for a server to bring the customer the bill, pick the check and credit card back up, run the payment through the POS system, and drop off the customer’s receipt, you’ll speed up turnover by 9 minutes. Over a day or night of service, you could fit in an extra booking slot with all the time you’ve saved on this step.

And because guests have already paid for their items, they may not linger for much longer after they’ve consumed them.

Strategic table and seating management is the key to making sure your bar or nightclub is operating safely and profitably during COVID-19. Learn how a nightlife reservations and waitlist platform like SevenRooms can help you manage your tables and seats efficiently. Check out our table management software today.

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