In association with Access Hospitality

Rigid booking systems ‘just don’t cut it for a lot of venues nowadays’

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

Decrease stress, increase revenue: 'Using old school processes pen and paper just can’t handle the complexities of booking in a Covid environment,' Access' Lorna Wilcox explains
Decrease stress, increase revenue: 'Using old school processes pen and paper just can’t handle the complexities of booking in a Covid environment,' Access' Lorna Wilcox explains

Related tags Bookings Technology Pubs Coronavirus Computer

As operators navigate the Government’s lockdown roadmap, The Morning Advertiser looks at how booking systems can adapt to cater for larger – and increasingly demanding – consumer groups through Covid-secure measures and beyond.

According to Lorna Wilcox, reservation and booking consultant at Access Collins, venues that don’t currently have front-of-house or booking systems in place “really need to look into making changes” as the on-trade prepares to traverse Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap and potentially larger bookings and ticketed events in the longer term. 

With pub and bar operators facing more logistical challenges than ever before, new tools such as designating bespoke booking types, deposit and card authentication, built in track and trace and easily amendable settings for changes in rules i.e. ‘the rule of six’, are more important than ever.

“Using old school processes pen and paper just can’t handle the complexities of booking in a Covid environment,” she explains. “There will also be a huge demand for tables, areas, events so having a system in place that can handle all of this efficiently can decrease stress and increase revenue.” 

However once venues begin to open up to bigger groups, events and trade returns to something resembling normal, Wilcox believes systems such as Collins’ will come into their own to an even greater extent. 

“Demand will be a main driver for change,” she adds. “Being able to drive bookings easily for both the customer and the venue is vital as well as being able to deal with them safely and efficiently. 

“Doing this via email can be messy and mean you end up missing requests and ultimately revenue.  

“Taking a long time to get back to customers can also result in a bad customer journey and they may choose somewhere else to dine or have their event instead.”

‘Worth every penny’

Yet with swathes of already cash-strapped pubs unable to welcome their first paying customers since autumn until May, operators’ burning questions will inevitably revolve around cost. 

“Venues that are already spending and investing on reservation systems may want to upgrade to a system that actually meets all their needs, and not just taking a booking. If that is larger bookings, automated reminders, or allowing you to take pre-orders, all through your website, social channels, or by phone, ensuring you don’t miss a booking, no-matter the size of party or type of booking,” Wilcox explains. 

“Some lucky venues may find they are being horrendously over charged for a system that does very little in comparison to Access Collins so they will end up spending less for more if they make the decision to switch. 

“The bigger investment will come from those who don’t have anything in place,” she continues. “However, the investment in all cases is worth every penny, the return on investment you get from having a system that fits to you and maximises your efficiently speak for itself in revenue.” 


Experiential venues and legal requirements 

With venues becoming more unique and offering booking types outside of the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner, having the flexibility to be able to take reservations via a system that fits to them rather than the other way around is a “game changer”, according to Wilcox – especially once venues are able to welcome larger groups post-pandemic. 

“Rigid systems just don’t cut it for a lot of venues nowadays that are offering for example, bottomless brunches or VIP booths,” she says. “This is especially the case for experience venues.

Wilcox adds that this flexibility extends beyond accommodating more creative food and drink offers to adapting to new legal requirements of hospitality venues – both Covid enforced or otherwise.

“At Access Collins we have always considered allergen as a really important part of the booking process for small and large bookings, which is why the pre-order facility had allergens built in from the get-go,” she continues.

“With Natasha’s Law coming into play more and more venues are looking for a system that can help them with this and make sure they are aware of all allergens at all stages from enquiry right through to paying the bill. 

“Access Collins’ pre-orders will show that there are allergens at all times. There are of course so many other benefits to pre-orders, but this is the most topical.

“Having a customisable widget that can take both auto confirmed bookings and enquiries caters to the lifestyle of all of the venues customers at it allows them to get in touch with the venue at any time they want or need. 

“This not only improves customer journey but also means that the venue will never miss a booking. 

Wilcox adds that another addition, Collins Call, allows customers to input their booking into their phone keypad if a member of staff can’t get to the phone or they call out of hours. 

“We have an awesome tech team that are making changes and improvements to the system on a weekly basis, this is why Access Collins is at the standard it is at today and will continue to be.”

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