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Restaurants and no-shows: how to capture booking deposits in a customer-friendly way

Restaurants have been busy re-hiring and relaunching themselves in recent weeks in readiness for the festive season. Given the challenges, they have faced as an industry, and the well-publicised restrictions on capacity, one would expect that levels of customer no-shows would decrease. Sadly this doesn’t appear to be the case as reported in the Irish Times yesterday. Liam Edwards of the Jim Edwards Gastropub, Kinsale commented;

“People not showing up is beyond belief. I couldn’t believe it could happen again after the end of the second lockdown. There are no office parties or corporate events this year, so it’s groups of friends not turning up. There’s the profit gone for the night.”  (Irish Times)

Several other restauranteurs are interviewed in the article and they all express some hesitance about charging a deposit to secure bookings and prevent no-shows. However, when hotels and other industries such as retail have taken on the pre-pay approach largely without any fallout, should the restaurant industry be any different? Surely any reasonable customer should understand that this approach is necessary if we want to keep our restaurant industry alive. The Restaurants Association of Ireland CEO Adrian Cummins has been vocal about this issue in recent weeks;

“No-shows continue to be a huge issue in our industry. Since reopening on December 4, consumers have been making multiple bookings in numerous establishments and either didn’t turn up at all or if they phoned to cancel, did it very late in the day.” (Irish Examiner)

Securing Deposits with Prommt

While some restaurants have been taking deposits over the phone this is not an ideal method of payment – it is time-consuming, error-prone and can lead to – for want of a better term – “awkward moments” with the customer.

Prommt is a payment request platform that allows you to text, WhatsApp or email a deposit request to the customer. You can explain to the customer that “we’ll pop you a deposit request which you need to complete the booking – this will be deducted from your bill”.

This can all be done in seconds, so if you wanted to you can even keep the customer on the phone until you see the payment come through. If not, Prommt can automatically send a reminder if the payment hasn’t been completed within an hour or less.

Prommt co-founder Eileen Carroll had this to say:

“Restaurants and hotels can really benefit from using Prommt as a customer-friendly way to handle deposits. Your payment page is branded with your logo and you can automate a thank you and receipt to the customer once the payment has been received which is a really nice touchpoint. It also has Autocharge which is ideal for handling larger groups and events”.

Why it’s better than paying over the phone

Your staff can use Prommt to take deposits in a professional, safe and customer-friendly way without handling the card details. If the booking is cancelled then Prommt makes it easy to apply a refund with just a couple of clicks. 

Another benefit is you eliminate fraudulent chargebacks which can be a major nuisance in any industry. Over the phone payments which are not 3D secure make you vulnerable to fraud as the claimant can successfully argue they did not authorise the transaction.

The key benefit of 3D Secure is that it fully shifts liability for chargebacks from the restaurant to the cardholder’s bank.

Customer-friendly payments

Taking advance payments doesn’t have to be a negative. With Prommt you can impress your customers with slick, professional payments and protect your business in the long term.

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