You’d think that after all this time, we’d be grateful that against all odds some restaurants have opened their doors once more meaning we can enjoy a nice meal with someone else doing all the cooking and washing up. But no, the attitude of some is far from gratitude with an increasing number of no shows at restaurants putting the industry at serious risk of collapse.
According to the online reservation system Resdiary, UK restaurants and bars incur annual losses of £16 billion pounds due to no shows. The current situation is exacerbating the problem with restaurants already struggling to survive having to take the extra hit of people just not turning up.
Top celebrity chefs have spoken out against those who do not honour their restaurant reservations. Tom Kerridge has branded the behaviour of 27 people who were no shows at his London restaurant on Saturday 11th July as ‘disgraceful’ and “shortsighted.” Similarly, when 92 people failed to turn up at his friend’s restaurant, James Martin criticised the no shows and said that it was an “ongoing problem, “which ”needs to be addressed.”
Unfortunately current no shows cannot be filled by walks ins and overbooking to counteract possible no shows would just cause more issues with no overflow space available due to social distancing restrictions.
Why don’t people just cancel?
There are a number of reasons why people don’t cancel their reservations.
Not easy to do so
This can be the case if there is no quick online cancellation facility, company contact details are not clear enough on website or there’s no answer when diners call to try to cancel so they give up.
Can’t be bothered
Some diners may be under the impression that it won’t matter if they don’t turn up as someone can easily fill their place so don’t consider it important to ring to cancel.
Forget to do so
People get caught up in the day and they forget the reservation. They even do so despite email or telephone reminders from the establishment in question.
Have we forgotten how to behave in lockdown? Have our good manners got lost under stockpiles of toilet rolls and flour? Making a phone call takes about 2 minutes and it’s common courtesy to do so.
In some areas, people book multiple restaurants to hedge their bets on getting a table and then choose last minute where to go.
Whether it be a lack of understanding and respect or just plain ignorance, selfishness and laziness, the reality is that no shows are putting people’s jobs, livelihoods and businesses on the line.
How can you help restaurants?
Don’t make a restaurant reservation unless you are sure you can go
If something crops up which means you do need to cancel or rebook then make sure you do so
Spread the word about the consequences both long and short term of no shows
Support the Greater Manchester based campaign organised by hospitality recruitment consultancy Sixty Eight People with Antonia Lallement from restaurant group Gusto
Use the hashtag #nomorenoshows to raise awareness of the impact of no shows.
Be understanding if a reasonable deposit is requested by the restaurant
Quite simply, as Antonia herself says in this tweet, “Don’t be a bell.” People’s livelihoods depend on you doing the right thing right now.
How can you be a better customer?
This month as the Queen of Customer Service, I chatted on BBC Your Money and Your Life to Matt Allright and Kym Marsh about how now more than ever we need to be better customers. Selfishness and inconsideration are not qualities we should be displaying as customers full stop but particularly not in the current climate. The programme is still available to watch on iplayer via this link until the end of the month and you can read more ways that you can be a better customer in this blog post.
To survive, we need to pull together as one big team. We may not be in the same boat but we are in the same storm. Let’s make sure no one is left in the water.