Operators say ‘its ok to cancel – just let us know!’

Since being allowed to reopen after the recent lockdown, most of our favourite bars and restaurants now have to operate at a reduced capacity to comply with social distancing measures. This means that even a small number of people booking a table and then not showing up can mean the difference between a businesses success or failure.

We have to change the way people behave and the notion that no shows are acceptable

Operators reveal that as many as 25% of online bookings do not turn up, that’s a quarter of a restaurant, which costs the industry around £16bn a year. Venues keen to offer their customers an enjoyable experience obviously manage staff levels according to bookings as well as buying the ingredients and doing all the prep, so without the customers they’re expecting, they could lose money. 

Recent viral tweets from well-known operators highlighted the need for action and last weekend restaurateur, Tom Kerridge has slammed 27 diners who failed to show up for a reservation at his London restaurant as 'disgraceful, short-sighted and unhelpful,' claiming they are putting jobs at risk.

Confidential publisher Gordo put his two-pennyworth in to the debate, by suggesting that restaurants should start charging a deposit on booking.

The amount of customers not showing up was already a problem for the industry. As the sector slowly tries to get back on its feet following the devastating effects of COVID-19, hospitality bosses are warning that the no-shows could prove to be just as crippling as the global pandemic itself.  

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As many as one in four bookings are no shows which could be catastrophic for the hospitality industry at a time when it's trying to find its feet

This is why Sixty Eight People, a hospitality recruitment consultancy, along with Antonia Lallement, brand sales manager for Gusto Italian, are unveiling a new campaign in Greater Manchester this week. #NOMORENOSHOWS aims to stop the devastating effects of customers not turning up to bar and restaurant bookings. 

The #NOMORENOSHOWS campaign hopes to spread awareness of the issue amongst consumers in hope that it will spark a change in behaviour. Everyone knows that some last minute cancellations are inevitable due to illness, childcare issues or other unforeseen circumstances. The hospitality industry is simply trying to encourage customers to be aware of the damaging effects and ask them to cancel where possible so tables can be made available for other customers.

Abi Dunn of hospitality recruitment business Sixty Eight People, says: "Our beloved hospitality industry is fighting for its life after the catastrophic events of the last three months. We are slowly getting back on our feet but let's be blunt - with already reduced capacity we simply won't survive if the current levels of no shows continue. 

“British people tend to feel embarrassed about cancelling. We want to say it’s OK to cancel, in fact you're helping us out! In no other area of business is it acceptable to renege on a contract in this way. We have to change the way people behave and the notion that no shows are acceptable. Greater Manchester is a metropolis of bars, dining, coffee hang outs, gastronomic delights and nights to remember. Please help them all stay open!” 

The movement starts with a social media ‘thunderclap’ on Thursday 16th at 10am and hopes to reach as many potential customers across the region as possible, so that the process of cancelling your table in advance becomes as natural as leaving a tip for good service.

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Restaurateurs say it's ok to cancel, just let them know

Hospitality leaders, operators and employees from all around Greater Manchester will be posting the #NOMORENOSHOWS tile on Instagram, calling on their own network of customers, family and friends to do their bit by sharing the image below and following three simple steps: 

1. Plans change. That's cool. Just let us know.

2. Rebook - we still love you.

3. Encourage friends and family to do the same.

The #NOMORENOSHOWS movement has already gained support from the region's hospitality leaders- 

Thom Hetherington, CEO of Northern Restaurant and Bar Show, said, “A ‘one-size fits all’ approach of deposits or similar won’t work for every restaurant, and the brilliance of this campaign is that it isn’t prescriptive, it leaves spaces for individual operators to put their own processes in place. ‘No showing’ has to become socially and morally unacceptable behaviour amongst diners everywhere. It damages businesses and can cost peoples’ jobs, and no one should want to have that on their conscience.

“With a large but close-knit hospitality industry, including some very powerful voices, I think Manchester is perfectly placed to lead the charge with a campaign for no more no shows.”

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor added, “As the hospitality sector slowly starts to reopen, many are operating at a reduced capacity. We already know how tight margins are with restaurants, but sadly over the last couple of weeks, many operators are reporting no shows on bookings. With the sector already on its knees, we need to support the industry and help wherever we can.

If you want to cancel your booking, that’s totally fine, but please let the restaurant know, the earlier the better, so that they can rebook your table.” 

To support the campaign email hello@sixtyeightpeople or DM any of their social channels to receive the information to join the movement on Thursday morning.

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Another image will be released across their social media channels at 10am this Thursday for people to share to show support for #NOMORENOSHOWS

Read again: Chancellor announces new ‘eat out to help out’ scheme to support restaurants

Also read: Restaurant no shows – What can we do about it?