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Cancel Protection for Phone Reservations

Another way for restaurants to prevent no-shows and last minute cancellations

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Hena Shah

For restaurants, dealing with the problem of no-shows is a notoriously difficult one. The effect of no-shows and last-minute cancellations are twofold. If a group of customers doesn’t honor their reservation, obviously it’s a wasted table that other possible guests may have missed out on. However, no-shows don’t just impact a restaurant's potential revenue: they also frequently result in direct costs. Restaurants end up covering the loss from the inventory they have pre-ordered and staff they have working, which is all set up to accommodate a specific number of guests. A lower customer count than expected means that all go to waste. Last-minute cancellations and no-shows can be a nightmare situation for restaurants when it comes to both revenue loss and stress.

We’ve found that, by offering Cancel Protection for online reservations to restaurants, it has overwhelmingly provided direct immunity against the impact of no-shows. By allowing restaurants to take credit card details or deposits when customers make an online reservation, it gives businesses both financial security and peace of mind over the bookings they take. Restaurants can also personally customize the system to take prepayment for various courses, which makes preparing inventory much easier. Overall, we found that introducing online reservation cancellation protection helped reduce last minute cancellation rates in certain restaurants from 63% to almost zero.

No-shows and sudden cancellations are issues that we care a lot about; we’re always looking to explore the best ways of addressing this problem so we can continue to develop ideas to help restaurant manage and minimize the impact of these unfortunate situations. We recently surveyed 900 diners in Japan and found some very surprising statistics.

Survey of 900 diners in Japan

As you can see here, there was an even bigger culprit for the biggest group of reservations which were resulting in no-shows: reservations taken via phone. Over half of all customers, 55%, were still making reservations through the phone. Even more, looking at how many cancellations restaurants were facing in total, phone reservations accounted for 60% of all no-shows.

If such a large majority of customers are still making reservations via the phone and this is leading to a higher rate of no-shows for certain restaurants, it seemed necessary to us to consider what could be done to address the situation for phones specifically. At the same time, we also realized that restaurant life is already busy enough: we wanted to focus on making the job easier for restaurant staff, and not unnecessarily more complicated. That’s why, we’ve built a product that requires restaurant staff who takes the reservation to do nothing more than pushing a button when taking a phone reservation.

When a customer phones in to reserve a time and that reservation is inputted into the system, TableSolution sends a direct SMS to the customer asking for their credit card details or prepayment (whichever the restaurant has chosen to set up). Either way, until the customer fills out these details, TableSolution will list the booking as ‘pending’. When the system receives the credit card details, it will automatically update the reservation to confirmed: similarly, if a restaurant doesn’t receive the details within an allocated period of time, the reservation will be removed. The automatic nature of the reservation means that restaurant staff has to take no more actions than they usually would when taking a phone reservation.

How to use TableSolution's Cancel Protection

Cancel Protection for phone reservations represents a way for restaurants to take back control of bookings, no matter where they come from. We believe this technology, amongst all the features provided by TableSolution, provides businesses with the necessary tools to address all the different challenges of no-shows. Because ultimately we want both restaurants and diners to have the best hospitality experience possible.

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