Per cover booking services can certainly help get the job done when it comes to attracting new customers. But all that extra business often comes at a cost – the fees and charges tied to managing your reservation book or using their reservation system can quickly cut into profits.
Worse yet, you miss out on valuable data about your guest’s unique tastes and preferences.
Using a per cover booking service may bring benefits to your restaurant operationally, but it doesn’t stack up to the savings you’ll see when guests book direct. Take your business to the next level by changing priorities to promote direct reservations. Here’s how to encourage guests to start making direct reservations through your owned channels.
Shout it from the rooftops
Want more guests to book directly rather than through a per cover booking service? Make sure it’s something they can’t miss. Getting the word out on your website and social media channels can help let guests know booking directly is an option. Better yet, include some details within your email footers to help shed some light on direct booking each and every time a guest hears from your restaurant.
Offer up perks
Use perks to show your appreciation for guests who book direct with your online reservation system. From custom wine pairings to personalized greetings, in-service perks or upgrades can be made available right when a guest books online – just make sure they know why you were able to offer the perk. Once guests catch wind of the reason behind their extra incentives, they may be tempted to book directly once again or even encourage their friends to do the same.
Tailor your marketing efforts
With direct reservations comes access to more guest data. After all, guests opt to share information with your restaurant that would otherwise be stuck in the hands of a per cover booking service. Collect insights from your guests’ preferences to make your marketing more effective. Available data points – such as a guest’s order history or birthday – can help you devel
op targeted messages and promotions. If, for example, you know which guests prefer outdoor seating, make an effort to keep them in the loop on your upcoming patio opening.
Cater to the experience economy
Customers are always on the lookout for new, exciting experiences. Meet the demand by allowing guests to book experiences directly through your reservation system. With the right solution in place, you can feature unique upgrades or offerings when guests go to make direct reservations. Make these exclusive options available only to guests who book direct and you’ll have a greater chance of them coming back to book on your website versus using a per cover booking service.
Use these techniques to drive direct reservations, boost brand awareness and ultimately expand your customer base. As the number of direct reservations increases, you can begin to rely on third party services only when there are a few seats left to fill. Not to mention, you’ll have the opportunity to provide improved guest experiences and personalized marketing promotions.
Want more ways to improve your reservation management? Download our “Own Your Guest Relationships: The Direct Reservations Playbook for Restaurants” playbook.
About the Author
Molly got the hospitality bug in High School and has been in the industry since. From Cornell's Hotel School, Molly entered the hospitality technology world with a mission to help operators run more successful businesses. At SevenRooms, Molly is Director of Demand Generation where she focuses on growing our network through a variety of marketing channels.