Restaurant customers and visitors value the ease of making the table reservations online, but they also akin to the personal touch of reserving a table through the telephone. A study shows that from a huge amount of clients of various restaurants, it was found that nearly one-third had made an online booking of a table. Moreover, the study depicts that majority of people who made a reservation online were younger in age to those using different modes for reserving a table in the restaurant of their choice and online users also ate out more frequently.
The group of customers that made online reservations considered those reservations to be significantly more convenient than telephone reservations. Furthermore, according to the users online, the restaurant websites provide additional information about a restaurant in comparison to the information gained by calling on the telephone.
This tradeoff between efficiency and service perceptions points to a strategy of offering reservations via both methods. Emphasizing the convenience of online reservations may encourage customers to use the website, and that will give restaurant operators more information about their customers. Whether a restaurant uses a third-party reservation service or builds its own website, one key to ensuring a successful reservations process is to make the electronic process as straightforward as possible.
The advantage to restaurants from online table reservations:
(1) Reduction in processing costs,
(2)Increase in volume and revenue,
(3) Improvement in quality of service.
Reduction in processing costs–
Online reservations can result in the reduction in labor costs since the comparatively lower number of employees will be required to take telephonic reservations. Online reservations are not intended to completely replace telephone reservations but to provide an additional distribution channel.
Increase in volume and revenue–
Online reservations are a medium for restaurants to become more accessible to customers and it assists in attracting additional customers. Customers can make online reservations any time and are not restricted to a restaurant’s hours of operation. Even when customers are willing to call during regular business hours, they may have difficulty in getting through or may be placed on hold. Online reservations help alleviate these problems. Many online reservations are made during periods when restaurants are not normally open, which means that the restaurant is most likely capturing business it might not otherwise receive. In that regard, a survey conducted estimates that 25 percent of reservations are made between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am. Third-party aggregators also provide information about multiple restaurants to the customers, and clients often make reservations at restaurants that were previously unfamiliar to them. This additional distribution channel can help restaurants gain incremental business. As a result, Over half (59%) of restaurants using online reservations have seen a tremendous increase in sales.
Improved service quality–
Online reservations can also help a restaurant provide a better and more consistent service experience to its guests since each time a reservation is made. Telephone reservation experiences may vary according to the training and commitment of the person taking the reservation. An increase in reliability can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction. Most online reservation systems track guest name and contact information, as well as details on birthdays and other special events, customer preferences, and no-show history. By having this additional information readily available, restaurants can provide more personalized and consistent service to their guests without having to rely on the memory of the manager. An increase in perceived service and product quality leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and profit.
Online reservations provide customers with the following benefits:
(1) Improved convenience,
(2) increased control, and
(3) a more consistent and reliable reservation experience.
Improved convenience–Service convenience is directly proportional to customers’ desire to conserve their time and effort. An increase in convenience is associated with an increase in satisfaction. Online reservations can increase convenience by giving customers information about reservation availability and by allowing them to make their reservation at any time and from anywhere. Given that customers believe that restaurants that take reservations offer higher service convenience, online reservations may enhance perceived convenience.
Increased control–When customers perceive that they have substantial control over a service encounter, they are more likely to be satisfied with that encounter. In a reservation context, customers can exert control by choosing the time they make their reservation, by choosing the restaurant, and by selecting the time of the reservation. In a research, customers indicated that they felt an increased sense of control over their dining experience, their evening’s schedule, and the table at which they will be seated. Online reservations may give customers more perceived control over the reservation process. This increase in control may lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Improved reliability–Telephone reservation procedures vary according to the restaurant and according to the restaurant employee. This lack of consistency may cause confusion for some customers. In addition, when customers call to make a reservation, they may not be sure if their reservation was accurately recorded unless they receive a written or emailed confirmation. In contrast, the process of making an online reservation is typically the same each time and customers typically receive an email confirmation of their reservation. Service reliability has been shown to be a major component of perceived service quality. Online reservations should offer increased reliability over telephone reservations.
Restaurants have much to gain from taking online reservations. The increased customer convenience may attract additional customers and may help retain existing customers. The reduced labor costs may also prove beneficial. The costs associated with online reservations obviously need to be considered, but in most cases, are more than offset by the increase in business.
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