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Number of “no-shows” since reopening reignites industry calls for deposits

Industry calls for deposits after no-shows

This week it emerged that the owners of The Mariners pub in Cornwall were left “disappointed” after 27 guests failed to turn up to a booking.

Following the closure of hospitality businesses for weeks on end during the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, coupled with repeated calls from the wider industry to implement a deposit system, the news will come as a disappointment to many food and drink businesses up and down the UK who fear the fall out effect that repeated no-shows will have on their livelihood.

Paul Ainsworth, who also runs the Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No 6, Caffè Rojano and the Padstow Townhouse Guesthouse said: “After the efforts our teams have put in to making our restaurants a safe environment and the money Emma and I have spent to make it possible. Disappointed doesn’t even cut it!

“To those 27 people who thought it was OK not to show tonight and that no one would miss you. You are very wrong. We were ready for you. The restaurant rota had been written for you. The team were waiting to welcome and take care of you.

“We currently employ 132 family members; we haven’t made one single redundancy and these people rely on Emma and I to pay their mortgages, rents, bills and many of them are the sole income earners for their families. So, the number of people you are affecting is far greater than the 132 employed.”

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge also had the same amount of no-shows at his London restaurant on the weekend and spoke about how the people who fail to cancel a reservation are putting unnecessary risk on an industry on the “verge of collapse.”

“As an industry we should be asking for deposits”

No-shows have long been a problem for the hospitality industry even before Covid, however with increasing importance being placed on booking systems to aid social distancing measures, as well as deciding how many staff to put on cover for a shift, the need for customers to honour their bookings will be more critical than ever if a business is to survive the pandemic.

Recently, London based restaurant Westerns Laundry said it would be increasing it’s ‘no-show’ charge policy from £10 a head to £50 a head to cover the cost of lost revenue. It made the decision after 12 customers failed to show for their bookings following reopening, which equated to a quarter of the restaurant’s revenue for the evening.

The restaurant said on Instagram: “At a time when our industry is struggling enough, we are also afflicted by a plague of unusually large numbers of “no-shows”. In normal times that table would be difficult enough to fill at such short notice, under the current conditions, it’s virtually impossible to make up for the loss of revenue. 

“Plans change, we completely get that. But when they do, give your restaurant a call and let them know. It only takes a minute. It’s much appreciated and can be the difference between staying open, save jobs or closing down permanently, and impoverishing lives and neighbourhoods.”

During our last webinar, Hospitality Reset: Member Spotlight, Anne-Marie – founder of Birmingham based Simpsons Gin Bar spoke about how she had decided to enforce a booking and deposit system once her premises reopened on 9th July.

She said: “I was worried about putting a deposit system in place. I knew it was the right thing to do after hearing about so many restaurants with 40% no-shows but I wasn’t sure of the response we were going to get. But I have to say, customers have been really good – we’ve had a couple of no-shows but nobody’s bothered that their deposit’s gone.

“We’ve put a very strict eight hour policy in place and the customers who have come in have said “we can see what you’ve had to go through with no trade for months and whatever grants you’ve had have gone to the landlord” and people are really understanding. It’s given me more confidence to say that actually, as an industry, we should be asking for deposits instead of worrying whether customers are going to turn up or not.”

Have you experienced lots of customer no-shows since reopening your premises, or maybe you’ve enforced a deposit system already? Whatever your situation, we want to hear about it. Send your stories to editor@ncass.org.uk.