Sunday, 13 May 2012

Win Win

There has been a considerable amount of discussion this week in the traditional and ‘new’ media about the delicate question of Restaurant Cancellations and how to manage them. One of the many examples that surfaced rather loudly was the recent case of a table of 6 unable  honour a reservation at the highest placed restaurant in Melbourne.
The rule of booking at this restaurant is, that they have a clearly stipulated cancellation policy that meant in this case, if the table of six could not be filled after cancellation, there was a strict cancellation fee of $900.
I believe the person that booked could not come due to an illness that happened the day before the proposed visit. He cancelled the night before the arranged lunch booking.
 He thought that he was entitled to some leniency due to the sudden nature of the illness. The owner stuck to his guns and explained that he had taken advice from the ACCC when forming the policy and that the cancellation policy was declared strictly kosher and always clearly explained to everybody that booked.
There was a cold impasse and I think both parties came out rather worse after the confrontation.
But both sides had to my eyes equally valid points of view.
The diner did not plan to be sick and the restaurateur had strict clearly stipulated rules of engagement.

No shows, last minute and unannounced table number changes, and of course dreaded cancellations have troubled diners and patrons for ever.

 I am working on a very simple  solution that preserves the goodwill of both the unfortunate canceller and also preserves the rights of the restaurateur in any reasonable situation. 

But as with all simple ideas it will need a very experienced entrepreneur to be able to bring it to fruition and provide a globally applicable fair working solution.  It has to be win win.

Off to the Zetter

Graphic by Les Mason


Andrew Portonelli said...

So what the answer smartypants?

steve said...

Hi Geo, love the new look.
This vexed issue is exactly why the no bookings policy is so attractive

Thermomixer said...

Hoping you're safely at The Zetter & not in Parma.

Anonymous said...

The 'other' position is that of the prospective diner who thinks they have a booking and make arrangements with guests only to be advised that the 'system' has failed. Two - three weeks ago I spoke with someone and, as I understood, made a pencil booking for lunch on Saturday 9 June. This was to be a chance to celebrate the birthday of my brother-in-law who is travelling from Tasmania to visit family in Geelong. I rang today to confirm, only to be told that no such booking had been recorded and that the restaurant is booked out on that date. Much disappointed prospective diner.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Steve Vexed but doable I recon.
No bookings alienates a significant sector namely those that wish to plan something.Those people are eating at home much more often and thats a good sign. I like standing on the stairs at the Supper Inn but not for over 25 minutes. Win win is the only sustainable position and I think I have a simple plan.

No restaurant can take Pencilled bookings what do they mean? Ring me about June 9 We have been away for 2 weeks and as John Lemmon said we can work it out. It has to be win win.
I dont like the idea of booking on line like the wrap arround this weeks epicure where a third party will get all my dining demoraphic sell my profile to a fourth party to use it to try to sell me stuff I dont want.

Andrew clue. WIN WIN

Jason Mackinlay said...

Have you finished your win-win plan? To me it would have to be shared risk and reward for both diner and restaurant.

Empty tables is an inherent risk of running a restaurant, and it will continue to exist whether it is due to no-shows or inclement weather. It is fundamentally the same risk management decision as to how many of each dish to prepare / buy in and to a lesser degree about staff rosters.

A 'No bookings' policy will not increase occupancy rate and is only viable for oversubscribed convenience venues where diners have alternatives to go to rather than wait for a table. A 'bookings only' policy can work for a niche venue that might not otherwise be open, but doesn't solve the no-show issue.

Booking fees, deposits, and cancellation charges are all stop-loss strategies. $900 would not have come close to the table docket if that party of 6 had attended for dinner that night. And I'd wager that they will not be rebooking anytime soon.

WIN for the house is predictable occupancy, good reputation, repeat trade, minimising waste.

WIN for the diner is table availability matching theirs, and experience exceeding expectations.

It's a value proposition. A win-win for any dining relationship would be amazing.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Jason still working on plan, gettingcloser but still need a contact to an elightened venture capitalist to fund and put it out there. I think the global rewards are substancial.
You are right that it has to be "shared risk and reward for both diner and restaurant" that's the key. Sad thing is that all media and most of the big web players back schemes like Dimmi that mearly charge you for taking bookings and then steal all your information to share with their "partners"
The next generation of web services will be free from data mining and re-selling and actually offer services. It will take time but I am confident that my scheme is viable.The first to use will have to be quick as it will be copied imediatelly. Also now have killer name for the system.