If you made arrangements with friends or business associates to meet up at a certain time and place and just failed to turn up with no excuse, apology or forewarning you’d quickly end up with no friends or and/or unemployed. So what makes people feel they can book a table at a restaurant and then just not turn up?

It is the height of ill manners at the best of times, but when restaurateurs have been knocked sideways by months of closure through lockdown and are struggling to keep their business afloat with increased costs to keep everyone safe and reduced capacity through social distancing, it beggars belief that there are still people out there so completely selfish and inconsiderate that they continue to do this. But they do, as recent posts on social media from Tom Kerridge and Paul Ainsworth amongst others have shown.

So what is the solution? The way I see it there are two simple things that might work…

Non-Refundable Deposits

Requesting card details and a non-refundable deposit is a completely reasonable route and one I think we will see more and more. It is only fair, as this helps restaurants manage staffing on the night and maximise what limited capacity they have. It won’t cover the cost of the bill if they still do a no show, but it might focus these people’s minds and is at least some form of incentive/punishment.

List of Shame

Now that we have to give details for tracing, these could be requested at booking and should you fail to turn up without letting them know in advance then you should be added to a list displayed at the venue and on their social media and ‘publicly shamed’. This in itself might encourage them to think twice before letting restaurants down.

Of course, we have all been in the situation where we’ve had to cancel a booking because someone is taken ill or caught in traffic etc. but the only acceptable thing to do in these circumstances is call ahead and let the restaurant know (the same goes for changing numbers). It’s not difficult. No shows were a problem before Covid and led to the rise of ‘no bookings’ restaurant model where you turn up and take your chances, but with Covid booking now essential (see my The End of Spontaneity blog) so action has to be taken if we are to stop these selfish individuals recking our beloved hospitality industry.