Evaluating an online restaurant booking system for your business needs

Published on 29/06/2022 by Andrew Blair

Restaurant restrictions during the pandemic required many restaurant owners to introduce an online restaurant booking system. What does an online booking system consist of and what are the benefits for your business? This article provides tips on how to evaluate the software for online restaurant reservations as well as additional features to consider for restaurant management that best suit the needs of your business. 

A man making a restaurant reservation through an online restaurant booking system

Restaurant owners had to think quick on their feet as the pandemic created turmoil within the restaurant industry. Many had to adjust and adapt to keep their business from going under. With restrictions easing in Australia, it’s becoming evident that the benefits of some of those adjustments will last past the pandemic. Seemingly too, technology is proving to be an indispensable resource for restaurants, thereby making the industry grow increasingly tech-centric.

Finding the tech sweet spot can be overwhelming, so let’s first outline the features and functionalities of restaurant reservation software, which we will then contrast with restaurant management software. The article will then help evaluate the benefits for your business goals and narrow down the search to align with your business needs.

What is an online restaurant booking system and how does it work? 

An online booking system allows you to make an online table booking from a web browser or an app. It helps you manage table reservations, resources, and staff, based on the bookings received.

As a whole, reservation software helps automate the daily workflows in a restaurant. Eliminating the mundane task of reservation management saves you time and enables your customers to make their own reservations. While empowering your customers is good for business, it also enhances the customer experience —making it even better for business. 

A cloud-based booking platform enables you to optimise seating arrangements for all restaurant sizes by accepting online reservations. In addition, you can configure an online reservation system to give guests information about offers and promotions. Guests can automatically be notified by email or text when they make a reservation. This tool can also record seating preferences, special occasions, or other personal requests. 

While an online reservation system enhances the customer experience through convenience, it also functions to improve restaurant processes. Restaurant owners can also replicate their floor plan on devices, and managers can track table availability and monitor the turnaround time for each guest. Managers can also gain insights from data through customer feedback.

How can an online restaurant booking system benefit your business?

Now that we have outlined the features and functionalities of an online restaurant reservation system, what about the impacts it can have on your business?

24/7 reservations

Ever wanted to call and make a reservation at a restaurant but then discovered that the restaurant isn’t open yet? Instead of limiting the time when potential customers can make reservations to opening hours, give them the option of 24/7 reservations. In this way, you can avoid losing customers to competitors and empower your customers to book online at their convenience. Your customers can find a suitable timeslot and plan their reservations well in advance, which can also help your business keep its calendar full throughout the year. 

Automatic reminders

No-shows can be detrimental to your business if customers have made a reservation but arrived late or not at all. Again, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you spend time contacting customers to remind them of their table reservations? An online restaurant booking system with a feature that sends automatic reminders can reduce pressure on your daily operations. Not only does it save you time, but the waitlist management feature also increases the efficiency of your operations as it avoids long queues at the front desk and confusion with reservations. 

Data-driven insights

Lastly, an online restaurant booking system can provide valuable insights into your business that help you stay ahead of your competition. The tool tracks reservations and additional details that go with them. This enables you to gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs as well as who your typical customer is. Making data-driven decisions can help improve your business. 

Choosing between reservation software and restaurant management software

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to restaurant management software as each restaurant has a unique set of needs, depending on its business model. An online restaurant booking system can be an independent tool to address a single need or can be found as an incorporated feature of restaurant management software that offers solutions to a set of needs.

The following list of common features of restaurant management software and their functionality provides a base to help you identify your business needs, whether you want to focus on customer experience, the behind-the-scenes running of your restaurant, or both.

Common features of restaurant management software

  • Reservations management: Allows online table booking from a web browser or app.
  • Table management: Assigns staff to each table and coordinates the table services.
  • Billing and invoicing: Creates and manages monetary transactions —such as bills and invoices— between clients, suppliers, and customers. 
  • Inventory management: Tracks, manages, and controls the quantity and supply of resources to maintain optimal stock levels. Generates reports that detail the food costs and current pricing of various items.
  • Kitchen management: Helps ease communication between staff and the kitchen. Performs a kitchen inventory audit based on the orders received. 
  • Menu management: Allows real-time inventory monitoring so that you can create a menu accordingly.

Food for thought: Sweeten your customer satisfaction

When considering an online restaurant booking system, a customer-focused approach can help steer your business to long-term success and toward your business goals. You can increase customer satisfaction by matching the right software with your current needs to keep your restaurant running smoothly, while putting a smile on your customers’ faces. Additionally, consider scalability to future-proof your needs, inventory control to reduce costs, and reporting capabilities to make data-driven decisions. Above all, keep in mind your customer experience as a happy customer is a repeat customer. 

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This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.