Imagine then how frustrating it would be to have a table for four standing empty due to a ‘no show’, especially on Easter Sunday when you’re unlikely to fill it with a ‘walk in’.
This is exactly what happened to us this year.
No shows are a frequent problem in our business, and while a party failing to show for a table on a midweek night when we aren’t full might not be the end of the world, at the weekends and especially on Bank Holidays when we rely on working to capacity to compensate for those quiet nights, it is a huge issue.
With experience it’s easy to spot the tables that may not show up. The bookings are often from people who will accept a time slot they didn’t really want, then shop around to find something that suits them better, then fail to cancel their original booking with us. Worse still are the individuals who place multiple bookings then decide which venue they fancy going to on the actual night.
Whatever the reason, hospitality is a sector in which some (not all) expect you to accept less consideration than in other service industries. These customers expect you to be there at their convenience with no thought to the financial implications of failing to turn up for a booking, or that you might not be there at all if the business doesn’t make a profit.
If I don’t turn up for my dental appointment, I’m charged a fee; perfectly acceptable as I’m paying for the time and expertise that professional has put aside for me.
I read an article on social media which suggested that whingeing about no shows on social media was bad PR. I don’t agree.
There are lots of people following me on social media who are interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff and if tweeting a complaint about a table not showing up for their booking makes people think twice about doing it then I’m happy.
For the most part I don’t think people realise what impact this has, otherwise I firmly believe they wouldn’t do it. While I would never name and shame an individual, if highlighting the problem on social media and through other channels raises awareness of the issue then I will continue to do so.
Unfortunately the customer is not always right; sometimes they are wrong — even if they don’t know it! After all it doesn’t take a lot of effort to pick up the phone. It’s just manners.
I’ve blacklisted the customer in question by the way. He’s a serial offender.
Karen Errington is licensee at the Rat Inn, Anick, Northumberland