Simplify the process – be available online 24/7

(11 /09 /2014)

I recently caught up with a friend who juggles her own business, night time teaching, two kids, a husband and tries to still ‘have a life!’ (her words not mine!) and we got to talking about convenience.

She was talking about online reservations or booking systems – not just for restaurants but for hairdressers, the dentist and even her local physio were all hopping on board allowing bookings and confirmations no matter what time of the night or day.  What a great service!  Why?  Well in her life there is work, there are her students, then there are household chores, the kids, dinner, bed time and finally when she sits down it is usually after 8pm each night and it is only then that she starts working on the list of to do’s for the next day.  Book haircuts for the kids, book the dog in at the vet, due back at the physio, dinner with some of the mums from school next Wednesday night and now for some of it, it can be done anytime and ticked off immediately!

After doing a little more hunting, there are so many options for online booking systems that it makes my head spin.  But from checking a few of them out the main criteria I see that would be essential is: contact details, size of party, the option to see what is still available – ie drop down box that has date, day and sitting times remaining, YOUR contact number in case they need to call for anything – there is nothing more frustrating than having to go searching for the phone number of a place – it should be easily visible, and the big difference I can see with some of these systems is the automatic confirmation.  Some offer email confirmation, some SMS, some both AND reminders the day before.

We are all time poor these days and if a system like this brings more people through the door then is it worth investigating? Would it reduce the number of no shows – if you have reminded them and they have confirmed with Y and your name (surely you have all had one of the text messages before!)? Would it encourage more people to book if it was easier?

I noticed one system also offers you reward points for booking through them – I guess encouraging you to only book with restaurants that use their system and ‘collect points’ to be used at one of their listed restaurants.

With technology integrated into our lives more and more every day, why not embrace it and at least trial it?

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