The Power of Virtual Waitlist Software for Restaurants

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5 min read

Jul 18, 2023

The Power of Virtual Waitlist Software for Restaurants

In today’s competitive landscape, providing a seamless and tailored experience is vital to earning guest loyalty. But ongoing staffing challenges have caused inefficiencies across the hospitality industry, impacting service and frustrating diners. Luckily, many operators are starting to embrace technology as a way to streamline the guest experience and alleviate pressure on their staff. 

One solution that’s been making waves in the industry is waitlist software, a virtual waitlist that empowers customers to join the queue before they even set foot in the restaurant. With features like real-time wait time updates and automated notifications, waitlist software is revolutionizing the way restaurants manage their guest flow and cutting out manual work for hosts and maître d’s.

In this article, we’re going to explore:

What Is Waitlist Software?

Waitlist software, also known as a virtual waitlist, lets customers add themselves to the waitlist from their devices before they even arrive at your restaurant.

When guests get to your virtual waitlist URL, they’ll be prompted to provide details such as the size of their party, their name, email, phone number and any additional notes or requests. Best of all customers can see their wait time in real-time and receive a text message or SMS notifications when their table is ready.

waitlist software restaurants

Why Your Restaurant Should Consider Waitlist Software

Remote waitlist apps are beneficial for several reasons.

For one, it helps reduce abandonment rates. A streamlined digital waiting room allows guests to view their place in line and their wait times from places beyond your lobby. This is extremely helpful to your restaurant during peak hours or high-demand holidays when you’re at risk of losing walk-in traffic to a crowded lobby. 

More importantly, waitlist management software helps make front-of-house operations more efficient, especially when labor and staff shortages are still rampant. Automated waitlists take the pressure off hosts juggling ringing phones, menu requests and guest updates because a virtual waitlist can tackle online booking (from anywhere) and display menus and pricing directly in the digital waiting room. Plus, acting as a queue management system, the FOH staff won’t have to answer as many “is my table ready” questions.

FYI: It seems every establishment is experiencing ongoing labor challenges. But Australian Venue Co. found a way to hire and retain employees. Learn more about their staff retention strategy here.

How Restaurants Can Effectively Leverage Waitlist Software

If you’re using virtual waitlist software for the first time, follow these tips to infuse pleasant customer experiences across all touchpoints.

Integrate It With the Rest of Your Tech Stack

When you use a virtual waitlist platform that integrates with your POS and table management software, you save time by automating table availability and wait times. For instance, as soon as one party has paid their bill, the cloud-based tool can notify another party that their table is almost ready and to return to the restaurant.

Make It Accessible Across All Guest Touchpoints

Offer your virtual waitlist on various platforms and across the whole guest journey.

On your website

Place a pop-up or banner that announces that you have a virtual waitlist and encourages guests to use it. 

Brodeur’s Bistro near Vancouver uses both techniques on its homepage. Introducing a digital waitlist helped them become more efficient on their busiest nights and ensured each guest received accurate wait times based on real-time availability.

virtual waitlist app

At your restaurant

Create a QR code that takes guests to your virtual waitlist. Put the QR code on signage outside of your restaurant, such as in the windows, on the front door, at a kiosk or on a sidewalk sign.

Across your social media

Don’t forget your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels. Capture your guests’ attention while they’re already interacting with you — helping you convert that online visitor into an in-person guest.

Waitlist Software in Action: At Brotzeit®, adding a POS-integrated reservation & waitlist management software to their workflow increased functionality and revenue. Their four Singapore locations realized a cumulative savings of ~$89,000 SGD over their first year with SevenRooms by leveraging direct booking across the venue’s website, Google listing, marketing emails and social pages. 

Leverage It to Shape Guest Expectations

Your virtual waitlist should do more than hold a guest’s place in line. It’s also a powerful tool for managing guest expectations, thus creating a better guest experience.

For one, you can let guests know how long they have to wait for a table.

virtual waitlist app Taco Shop

Remember, truly inspired guest experiences are tailored and specific. Send your guests multiple updates about their place in line to make guests feel like they’re closer to being seated, and minimize your no-show rate. Customize the SMS updates to say something like, “You’re three tables away from being seated! We’ll let you know when it’s time to come to the host stand.”

Gather and Track Key Guest Data

Because virtual waitlist software is, well, virtual, it allows your teams to connect to your POS that all staff use during their shift. When a guest books a table, the software can apply guest tags to the profiles and reservations which is shared across your portfolio. Information like guest preferences, dietary restrictions and spending habits can be automatically attached to the waitlist profile, allowing your staff to execute a flawless dining experience.

Meeting guests where they are, and wowing them from the start, is vital in today’s fight for earning customer loyalty. But this streamlined approach to guest experience can’t be achieved at the expense of your busy, tired staff. The best waitlist system enhances customer satisfaction without adding pressure on your teams. Request a demo of SevenRooms’ virtual waitlist solution and see why it’s the most advanced, efficient waitlist on the market.

Restaurant Waitlist Software FAQs

What is Waitlist Management?

Waitlist management is the process of managing and organizing a waitlist for a restaurant. When a restaurant is full, hosts and maître d’s will add customers to a waitlist and then seat them in the order they were received once a table becomes available.

What is the Purpose of a Waitlist in a Reservation System?

When a restaurant is at capacity, a waitlist helps to maintain a queue of customers instead of turning them away. With a virtual waitlist system, front-of-house staff can efficiently manage the guest flow between reservations and the waitlist.

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