Prior to the technological Blitzen, restaurant reservations were only possible through phone calls. The digital age hasn’t spared the foodservice industry in its disruptions. The online presence of most restaurants, such as social media accounts and websites, are avenues for guests to interact with the restaurant. Of course, online restaurant reservations are some of the principal activities that diners can do through the internet.
Hence, the topic of online reservations is vital for restaurant management and maximizing turnover. Because empty restaurant tables are not only a loss of revenue but also hours of wasted utilities and paid wages. Usually, the potential for online restaurant reservations is limited by your ability to fully utilize this opportunity provided by the internet.
Why you Need to Optimize your Website for Reservations
Here are but some of the reasons why you want to optimize your online restaurant reservations.
The power of suggestion - Customers are more likely to make reservations when they encounter the opportunity more often through your website.
Waitlist management - You efficiently manage guests on your waitlist when you have a good idea of the number of guests you are expecting. This gives you a better chance for perfect restaurant seating and table management.
Inventory and staffing needs - You can predict the inventory and staff you need to schedule for any given day or night.
More guest data - You can collect information about your daily guests.
Ease of use - For more customers, you need more reservations, and this is easy when the customer support system allows them to reserve tables just by the click of a button.
Having made this clear, we must also state that there are other offline factors like your restaurant entertainment that affect your reservations - either directly or indirectly. Now, let’s look at some creative ways you can increase your online restaurant reservations this year.
10 Ways to Increase Online Restaurant Reservations
You can drive more revenue to all your restaurant locations with a strategic approach to online booking. Customers are ready to make restaurant reservations online. However, you can make the process easy for them. Here are ten tips to help you get there.
Separate Restaurant Locations with Different Webpages
All your restaurant reservations might not provide the same services. Also, the people in each location might be the only ones with access to these businesses. However, you can get more people to make reservations online for each location by creating a unique page for each location.
Also, the contents relevant to each location needs to be on each web page. For instance, you might consider promoting the seasonal special or the chef of each location. However, remember to ensure that your restaurant accounts for the results from the different webpages.
Emphasize the Reservation Link
The format and arrangement of elements on the website is vital to increase the number of online restaurant reservations. As such, you must position elements of your reservation strategically. Ideally, the link should sit above the fold; it’s formatting large enough for optimal visibility. People are usually in a hurry.
Therefore, your customers are less likely to choose a competitor site if they have to search the entire website to locate your online restaurant reservations link. Remember, the whole point of an online reservation is to streamline the reservation process.
Make the Website Responsive and Mobile-Friendly
Mobile phone usage is on the rise and shows no sign of reducing anytime soon. Hence, your local guests are less likely to boot their laptops only to search for your restaurant online.
Therefore, you need to build each webpage with the mobile user in mind. Pages should load quickly with good readability. Above all, they should be responsive. Remember, we earlier mentioned the importance of ease of use. As such, the display of buttons, and text on your online restaurant reservation system must be easy for smartphones to users.
Find Suitable Booking Services
Some of the popular online booking services online will see more traffic than your restaurant website. Hence, you can take advantage of services like Zomato, OpenTable, or Rezbook, where people make direct reservations. Therefore, the idea is to get your restaurant listed on these sites.
There are seasonal peak times when people make restaurant reservations online more than at other times. Some of these times include Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. Booking services can be instrumental in bringing in more guests during such times. Who knows, these guests will become regular customers too.
Partner with Booking Services for Last-Minute Support
If your restaurant records last minute cancelations (and which restaurant doesn’t?), you can use several websites that enable you to list canceled tables. Also, you will find others that give diners incentive for booking at off-peak periods. Mind you, most of these websites charge a small fee. However, you can quickly recoup this fee by filling your empty tables.
Place Reservation Link on Facebook Pages
If you aren’t on social media yet, you should stop reading right now and set up a social media page for your restaurant on Facebook. The list of benefits won’t fit in this article (stay tuned for a post on the benefits of social media for your restaurant). Your branding of a corner on social media makes your restaurant more recognizable in real-life.
The takeaway here is to send your customers directly to your restaurant’s reservation page, instead of the homepage. Other vital information like open hours, directions, menu, etc. will come in handy on the same page. After all, these are some of the main reasons why visitors use the website.
Make Effective Use of Restaurant’s Email List
Email is perhaps one of the best forms of marketing on the internet. Hence, savvy marketers will promote their restaurant during occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or holidays through email marketing. You can increase the result from this approach by including a link to the reservation page directly within your email.
Use Print Ads for Online Reservations
So you are doing print ads. But do you know you could give your online restaurant reservations a significant boost if you use it to promote your online website? Many customers prefer to use the internet rather than call your business.
Therefore, remember to include details on how to make restaurant reservations online in your print ads.
Use Text Format for Reservation Information
It also happens that search engine optimization plays a role in the effectiveness of your online reservation page. However, search engine spiders don’t count pictures when indexing your site. The small text describing the page and how guests use it to book reservations will help crawlers index the site. As a result, it will appear in relevant search results.
Effective Use of Call-to-action
Your call-to-action is the crown jewel of your online reservation webpage. Therefore, it has to appear several times on the site, be very visible and hard to ignore. A right call to action could be “Reserve Now.” This tip also goes for all your digital ads, social media pages, and landing pages.
There are a few ways, like online restaurant reservations, that render your business more profitable. By making it easier for potential guests to become paying customers at the click of a button. Perhaps you will record more guests than ever if you can implement these tips effectively. In that case, you will need tools like a restaurant POS system to manage your business and streamline operations.