You need a tradesman to sort an immediate problem at your home. You've called him and he's agreed to visit your property at a pre-arranged time. You may have even had to take a day off work, or had to change your arrangements for that day.
The agreed appointment time arrives, and there's no tradesman to be seen. What's more you haven't received a call from the said tradesman to say he's going to be late. Nothing. No communication. A blank. Thirty minutes later still no word. Your call goes straight to answer-phone. He never shows up. The cost to you? Maybe financial and/or maybe purely that of wasted time and inconvenience. Naturally, you are upset!
A similar scenario is occurring on a daily basis at restaurants, which has far greater consequences and ramifications than merely lost time and inconvenience. For dining establishments there is a very definite financial implication. This scenario is where a table booking has been made at a restaurant and the diners don't turn up, i.e. what the industry calls 'No Shows'. It's a very real problem and over £16bn is lost by restaurant No Shows each year, just within the UK. This isn't merely a cancelled table booking. No shows specifically refers to those table bookings where no-one shows up, doesn't cancel and that table has been held for a reasonable time in case the diners are genuinely late. Often the restaurant cannot resell that table that evening and may have earlier turned custom away because the table was reserved.
How bad is the problem? It can be the difference between profit that evening and a thumping loss for a restaurant, after all they may have had to buy in fresh stock specifically to cover that table booking. Research indicates that in big cities up to 20% (i.e. one in five diners) represent 'no shows'. One restaurant reported 140 no show diners in a single evening, representing 50% of the restaurant's capacity.
The answer is of course for the restaurant to take a debit/credit card deposit, and many London restaurants are now adopting this strategy. Indeed, for top celebrity chefs' branded restaurants you'll be expected to pay a £100 deposit for lunch and a £150 deposit for dinner. But the real question is would you now be prepared to pay a deposit to reserve your table at a restaurant?
Taste Swansea recently under took a quick, rough and ready online poll via Facebook and Twitter and of the sample 66% were prepared to pay a deposit and 34% were not. Perhaps the 34% can't recall ever having been let down by a tradesman who promised to come to fix their home. Next time you book a restaurant table 'Book Responsibly' and think about the restaurateur or at least take the trouble to call in well in advance if you are going to cancel.