Excerpt from Modern Restaurant Management
While third-party reservation services have taken center stage in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, it’s now time for restaurants to follow in the travel industry’s footsteps and start thinking strategically about how they can build direct relationships with their guests, utilizing third-party platforms as just one of many channels to reach their guests.
Costing More Than It’s Worth
Third-party booking services excel at attracting new guests and increasing brand awareness through strong consumer networks. These services can be valuable as marketing tools, but if used as the only channel, it means they own the guest relationship and all the data that accompanies it. Relying solely on third-party sites come at a steep cost - not only to your bottom line, but in hindering your ability to establish meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your guests that can turn tables of new faces into regulars.
So how is a direct restaurant reservation different and why is it important?
When a guest books a reservation through one of your owned channels — including your website, reservations team or social media — that’s a direct reservation and comes at no cost to you. Free business, free data and endless possibilities.
Imagine this scenario: A guest who dined at your restaurant last week had a great experience and wants to return with her friends for dinner. She knows she wants to dine at your restaurant and goes directly to your website. When she clicks to book, she is taken to another third-party website to book the reservation. When this happens, you’re not only paying for a guest whose loyalty you already have, you’re also missing a critical opportunity to capture important information that can be used to personalize the guest experience and tailor future marketing efforts. Even worse, if your restaurant happened to be booked for the evening, you never had a chance to offer a table at another property in your portfolio. But you can be sure, the third-party booking service found them a table at a competitor’s restaurant.
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