Reservation systems need more attention!

A reservation system or table management system (TMS) is one of the most important pieces of technology in a restaurant.

Author: Carmen Mallo (Revenue Management specialist and Founder of REMS Hospitality)  

All the bookings land there, and you can control your reservation flow, floor plans, shifts and more through this system.

Learning how to use a TMS is essential because the benefits will be huge. One of the major TMS companies reported that less than 10% of the users pay attention to the system's settings. This means that once the provider sets up the system for you, a restaurant will barely adjust the settings. This is like if someone gets a Porsche and only drives in the second gear.

Reservation systems are packed with hundreds of cool features, from adjusting cancellation policies to changing reservation pacing, floor plans, table combos, etc. Each restaurant should explore the business's needs and adjust this accordingly. During high-demand periods, an optimised system can bring you at least 10% more covers because your reservations are better structured, and your restaurant will prioritise more profitable bookings.

For example, the best way to combat no-shows is to understand how your floor plans work and when these no-shows are happening and set up an overbooking strategy. No-shows are a big issue in the industry, but there is a straightforward solution. You can get comfortable with overbooking your venue. It will be scary in the beginning, but once the team gets used to it, they will ask for it to happen.

During our time working for restaurants, we have learned that the first thing to ensure you are keeping money on the table is to audit your TMS, even before sending any newsletters or promoting your business. We have also seen how businesses send loads of advertisements, but the reservation system is so restricted that it cannot accommodate the demand. Turning your tables often during high peak seasons to achieve the extra 10% is easy, but it often cannot happen because of how the reservations are structured. We have also seen over and over restaurants taking the wrong reservations. And yes, every reservation is welcome when nothing else is lining up, but on the contrary, if you know a certain party size, booked by a certain channel, tends to spend more, you need to prepare for this. 

Christmas is approaching. Have you looked at your settings and made significant changes to accommodate your extra demand? If not, it is time for it.

On the contrary, we understand that adjusting this regularly takes time and knowledge. It is important to make decisions based on the reports you extract from the system instead of doing things because you think they should be done that way. Speaking to many restaurants, we have realised there is an opportunity to support the revenue optimisation journey by expanding our services to managing reservation systems, as we have been asked to do so.

So, if you are interested in learning about how we can make this work, get in touch at

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