When someone makes a dinner reservation and then fails to show up for it, it costs the restaurant money. In some cases, a lot of money. The Guardian reports several high-end U.K. restaurants have begun publicly naming and shaming these people to combat a financially “crippling” wave of no-shows.
The Cauldron restaurant in Bristol, for example, has begun tweeting the names of parties that fail to show, with an all-caps order to “SORT YOUR SHIT OUT!” Damian Wawrzyniak, owner of a restaurant called House Of Feasts in Peterborough, has started a trending #StopNoShow campaign on Twitter, which has quickly gained support from other restaurateurs.
Of course, there are other—perhaps more polite—ways to encourage tables to show up for reservations: requiring a deposit, or offering a ticketing system for reservations. Tock, a reservation system created by American restaurateur Nick Kokonas (Alinea, Roister, The Aviary, Next) for example, requires payment in advance for reservations at high-end restaurants. Some restaurant owners say that deposits or strict cancellation policies can backfire, though, when diners threaten to leave nasty reviews because of such policies.
For its part, reservation website OpenTable has tried to combat the no-show epidemic but only allowing guests to book one reservation during a given time slot. Restaurants say it’s not solving the problem, though.
“Usually they are big groups–of eight, 12 or 20 people–who book and then simply don’t turn up. We’re left with empty tables and have probably had to turn other bookings down in good faith that those with reservations would show,” Wawrzyniak tells The Guardian. He says no-show tables accounted for £3,000—about $4,187—in lost revenue on a recent weekend.
The crisis indicates that there’s a disconnect between restaurants’ reservation systems and diners’ habits. Is public shaming the answer? Let’s put no-shows in the town square’s stocks to find out.