One in six have failed to fulfil dinner or drinks bookings since lockdown

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Stood up: one in four people make multiple bookings for the same time and date so they can pick and choose where they go on the day according to Streetbees
Stood up: one in four people make multiple bookings for the same time and date so they can pick and choose where they go on the day according to Streetbees

Related tags Food Gastropub Cocktails Technology

Though 95% of Brits consider it rude not to let a pub, bar or restaurant know they won’t be making a booking, operators have nonetheless faced a wave of ‘no-shows’ since trading resumed on 4 July.

According to CGA’s Consumer Pulse survey of 500 adults in England, about one in six people who have headed out to pubs, bars and restaurants since lockdown, have failed to fulfil a dinner or drinks reservation.

The out-of-home leisure expert’s research also found one in 20 (5%) respondents who have booked a table since lockdown have not only failed to show up but also not informed the venue, while another 5% have cancelled plans after making a booking. 

“The pandemic has triggered a seismic shift in consumer behaviour from spontaneity to planning,” Rachel Weller, CGA's head of consumer research and marketing, said. 

“This has positive implications for operators who can provide a smooth booking process and great experience but unfortunately, it will also increase the number of no shows.”

In a bid to avoid being stood up, a number of pub operators including celebrity chefs Paul Ainsworth and Candice Brown have resorted to charging customer deposits – something more than half (58%) of adults would be happy to pay when making reservations according to CGA.

This figure jumps to 78% among consumers who admitted to cancelling or not showing up for a reservation, though one in five (19%) of those quizzed by CGA claimed being asked to pay a £5 deposit per head would give them reservations about booking a table for dinner or drinks.

“Highlighting the damage this can do to recovering businesses, and convincing people it is safe to eat out, may ease the problem but it’s clear all operators are going to need to adjust quickly to this new era of advance planning and mandatory deposits may just be the solution,” Weller added.

CGA’s Consumer Pulse also found only a quarter (28%) of consumers visited venues without a reservation in the 10 days after pubs, bars and restaurants reopened on 4 July – with the average visit lasting just over an hour (67 minutes).

‘Disgraceful, short-sighted and downright unhelpful’

CGA’s deep dive into ‘no-shows’ comes after a number of operators from the pub, bar and restaurant sectors condemned customers who have left them in the lurch over post-lockdown bookings.

While Paul Ainsworth compared ‘no shows’ to panic buyers at the start of lockdown during an interview with Good Morning Britain​, celebrity chef and pub operator Tom Kerridge recently took to Instagram to hit out at customers who failed to show at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill​ in the Corinthia Hotel in central London on 'Super Saturday'. 

“To the 27 people that booked [Kerridge’s Bar & Grill] then failed to turn up on a Saturday night. This industry, like many others is on the verge of collapse,” Kerridge’s post explained. 

“Your behaviour is disgraceful, short-sighted and downright unhelpful. All of you “no shows” in all restaurants up and down the country are adding to the issues already being faced.

“You are putting people’s jobs more at risk. We put staff levels to the number of covers booked and when you fail to turn up, it now costs us, which in turn will force very uncomfortable and hard decisions about staffing levels.

“You are the worst kind of guest, and that is 'selfish'. I hope you have good look at yourselves.”

Hare and Hounds

On top of this, Bath Pub Company managing director Joe Cussens told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ he was left “incredulous”​ after the Hare & Hounds in Bath had three ‘no shows’ on its first day of post-lockdown trading on 4 July after customers failed to call in advance to cancel bookings.

“At the best of times, it is just selfish, rude, entitled behaviour and then given the financial situation that all these operators find ourselves in, the idea you can do something so damaging, careless, heartless, is just beyond belief," he told MA​.

‘No-show’ excuses

According to new research by global intelligence platform Streetbees, an overwhelming majority of the British public (95%) consider it rude not to let a venue know that you won’t be making a booking.

However, the same survey also found that only 84% of respondents have contacted a pub, bar or restaurant by either phone, email or online booking systems to cancel a reservation – with 3% letting someone else using their booking and 4% simply not showing up.

The most popular reason for leaving a pub, bar or restaurant in the lurch over a change of plans was that a cancellation was too last minute (14%), while the next most common excuse was simply forgetting to call or email (13%). 

What’s more, Streetbees also found one in four people make multiple bookings for the same time and date so they can pick and choose where they go on the day – with 18% of them doing so only on special occasions and 7% doing so frequently. 

Since the easing of lockdown, more than a quarter of Brits (26%) have made a booking at a pub, bar or restaurant according to Streetbees, though of the 20% that couldn’t attend, three quarters (73%) claim they contacted the venue to cancel. 

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