Clover EPoS asks: reservations or walk-ins – what works best?

24th July 2019

Global EPoS Giant, Clover, has decided to ask one of the trickiest questions within the restaurant sector – should you focus on reservations or walk-ins? Is this the perennial issue facing restaurant and food businesses in the UK? However, what are the pros and cons?

For example, a reservation-only model can create a sense of ‘exclusivity’. Now, this might be what you’re aiming for, but it might not be what you’re actively trying to build in terms of an accessible brand which makes a walk-in model more acceptable in that case. So, getting this right can really help drive your business towards success.

Focusing on reservations can help your business plan ahead. However, walk-in trade based on your locale will also be cyclical (but without that ability to plan ahead if there are major changes). So, understanding the pros and cons can help your business grow.

The pros – planning ahead. By offering reservations you can help plan your business, make sure you are staffed accordingly and can tailor the experience. However, you’ll need to be aware that 10-20% of bookings could be a “no-show”. This means ‘walk-in’ patrons will get lucky. When you focus predominantly on walk-ins, you can’t plan for anything which means anything from the weather to local events can impact your business.

The cons – exclusive versus inclusive dining experiences. As restaurant brands become more inclusive, brands don’t want to be associated with ‘stuck-up’ exclusivity especially if their brand isn’t in that market segment. Therefore, you need to balance the mix right. You can leverage both the power and weakness of reservations versus walk-ins by using technology.

Clover have some great solutions to help you make these decisions. If you’re focusing on a casual dining experience -one that includes reservations but also incorporates walk-ins – developing the right EPoS platform can help you understand cyclical day-to-day trading nuances and can help you plan for the unplannable.

Whichever booking or not-booking system you decide to go for, you’ll need a reliable network to ensure it keeps working when you need it most.  We can help you there by installing, replacing and/or maintaining your network.