restaurant layout

Customising the Dining Experience: Features to Look for in Top Restaurant Reservation Software

Modern restaurants succeed by crafting a seamless dining experience, where personalisation is king. It all begins with that first touchpoint — when the customer makes a reservation. An online booking system then becomes your restaurant’s digital storefront.

Today’s top restaurant reservation software are powerful tools that can revolutionise your operations. With over 700 million people expected to adopt online booking, it’s crucial to choose the right system. 

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Restaurant Reservation Software

Before we dive into the must-have features for your restaurant reservation system, let’s take a look at the key factors when choosing a restaurant reservation system:

  • Your restaurant’s needs: Does the software offer the essential capabilities like online booking and guest communication? Do you need extras such as real-time availability or online ordering? Ensure the software can grow with your business and integrate seamlessly with your existing systems.
  • Usability: Is it user-friendly for both staff and guests? Mobile compatibility for on-the-go reservations is a plus point. Look for comprehensive training and ongoing support to ensure smooth implementation.
  • Cost: Understand the pricing model to ensure the costs do not burden your bottom line. Does the system incur a flat fee, per-reservation fee, or tiered structure? Watch out for hidden fees and take advantage of free trials to test functionality before committing.
  • Data ownership: Since booking systems require customer contact details, you want to consider software that keeps that data with you. The alternative is a system that keeps your guest database to promote other venues, which is far from ideal.
  • Security: Make sure the software prioritises data security for your customers. Reliable uptime and a backup plan are essential to prevent disruptions and data loss.
  • Reputation: Read online reviews from fellow restaurateurs to gauge their experience. Consider requesting references to get firsthand insights on customer service quality.

Now that you have a clear picture of potential criteria for your booking system, let’s move on to the essential features to look out for.

7 Features to Look for in Top Restaurant Reservation Software

Restaurant reservation software can transform your business, first and foremost customising the dining experience from the point of booking. But with so many options on the market, choosing the right system can be an overwhelming process. 

Here are some key features to prioritise when evaluating a restaurant booking system:

1. Table and Reservation Management

Booking software can be a real asset especially when it simplifies table and reservation management — you’re looking for a easy to use digital floor plan at your fingertips.

Top reservation systems allow you to seat guests and adjust layouts or table settings for larger parties with ease. This eliminates confusion for your staff and ensures a seamless seating experience for your guests.

2. Online Payment Options

These days, features that allow for online payments are more than just an additional perk – they’re vital to your business. No-shows can be a major pain point for restaurants, especially in the hospitality economy post pandemic. Losing a table of eight at the last minute can cost a mid-tier restaurant up to $1000

Taking booking guarantees or cancellation fees can discourage no-shows and better inform customers, helping you forecast revenue and cover some of the cancellation costs. The best restaurant reservation software offers flexible deposit options, including credit card pre-authorisation, to suit your needs.

Payment gateway integrations create a smoother booking experience for guests as well, as it’s a safer and quicker way to pay. 

3. Real-Time Availability

There’s nothing worse than having to turn away a guest because your system shows a full house, when in reality, tables might be freeing up soon. Real-time availability provides up-to-date information on your restaurant’s seating situation. This maximises your revenue potential by helping you accommodate last-minute requests and walk-in customers. 

Plus, some reservation systems take live updates a step further with ancillary features. These tools can further enhance your seating management capabilities.

For instance, you might be able to filter tables by size, capacity or even identify customers with tags attached to their previous bookings. This allows you to quickly decide on the best option for accommodating a specific reservation, ensuring your customers get the best experience.

Customers seated in a restaurant

4. Waitlisting

A full house is a good problem to have, but leaving guests disappointed is never the goal in the hospo business. That’s where waitlisting comes in. A waitlist or standby list system allows customers to add their name to the queue when there are no available reservations, offering them a chance for a table while they explore nearby options or enjoy a drink at your bar. This not only beats turning them away but also fosters a more welcoming service.

In addition to joining a standby list, Now Book It also allows customers trying to book to locate the next available date and time at your venue. This translates to more positive guest experiences and increased operational efficiency for your restaurant. 

5. Integration with Other Systems

Gone are the days of juggling separate reservations with other restaurant management systems. Top reservation software now integrates seamlessly with your point-of-sale (POS), inventory management, and even marketing tools. 

Integrating your reservation software automates tasks like table management, guest preferences, inventory, accounting, and targeted marketing campaigns. The result? Increased efficiency, fewer errors, and a business that’s both more profitable and laser focused on better serving your customers.

6. Actionable Insights

Effective restaurant management is all about data-driven decisions. The best reservation software goes beyond managing bookings – it empowers you with valuable and actionable insights. Reservation reporting can reveal popular dishes, peak hours, and even average spending per customer.

This information can also help you identify areas for improvement. For example, analysing reservation patterns might reveal under-utilised time slots. Turn this insight into action by creating special promotions during these periods to boost revenue and attract more diners.

7. Automated Reminders

We’re all human, and in the restaurant industry, we know forgetting a reservation happens often! Appointment reminders can dramatically reduce no-show rates by up to 90%. You want a system that automates these booking reminders, so you can ensure guests arrive on time while freeing your staff to focus on delivering exceptional service. 

These communication capabilities such as email, SMS or push notifications also offer a convenient and direct way to reach out to your guests. You can send quick updates about wait times, table changes or availability.

When used right, it can also be a valuable marketing tool for your business. Consider sending targeted messages promoting upcoming events, special menus, or loyalty programs to guests with relevant reservations. This increases engagement and encourages repeat visits.

Elevate Guest Experience with the Right Restaurant Reservation System

The best restaurant reservation software goes beyond managing bookings. It lets you impress guests with stellar service right from the start, powered by features like easy online booking and smooth waitlist management. Plus, a great booking system helps you personalise menus and plan your service using valuable data insights.

Finding the right reservation system for your restaurant will take time and a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it for how it contributes to happy guests and healthy revenue.

Schedule a free demo to learn how Now Book It can do exactly that for your business with  leading hospitality solutions that powers thousands of restaurants.

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