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Should Social Media Be Used to Shame No-Shows?



Should Social Media Be Used to Shame No Shows?Have you ever been so upset with no-show diners that you’ve wanted to shout your anger from the rooftop? Well, you’re not the only one. Some restaurants have started to slander no-show customers publicly through social media – using customers full names!

Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s a hip Beverly Hills dining establishment serving Vietnamese cuisine, with a trendy twist. It’s an establishment that is tough to get into without a reservation and, even then, you may not be eating until 9:00PM (did I mention it’s trendy?). Recently, Red Medicine took a bold move and showed their anger for no-shows, all with the help of social media.

According to The Eater, who reached out to restaurant manager Noah Ellis about the daring posts, no-shows cost restaurants a lot of money and Ellis was at his wit’s end that weekend. He used Twitter as an outlet to express his frustrations.

Should Social Media Be Used to Shame No Shows?

Ellis later explained that no-shows have always been a problem for restaurants, primarily because the situation becomes difficult when a restaurant is forced to overbook to ensure it stays filled:

“Invariably, the assholes who decide to no-show, or cancel 20 minutes before their reservation ruin restaurants for the people who make a reservation and do their best to honor it. Either restaurants are forced to overbook and make the guests (that actually showed up) wait, or they do what we do, turn away guests for some prime-time slots because they’re booked, and then have empty tables.” – Noah Ellis

He mentioned that they tried to go down the “no overbooking” route a year ago because they presumed that they would be able to recover from no-shows, but would inevitably ruin a few experiences along the way… especially when guests are waiting for more than half an hour for their table. Ellis said:

“I remember a handful of times where those guests who had to wait were celebrating something, or were a younger group who brought their parents from out of town to show them the restaurant; we felt terrible. So we made the conscious decision to eliminate the ghost tables and set our turn times to a realistic length for making reservations.”

“We tried taking a credit card with every reservation, but it hurt our business; there’s a contingent of people who just won’t put down a card, regardless of if they plan on coming or not. The ticketing systems are interesting, but we do most of our business a la carte, and I’m also not sure that we have the consistent demand to justify it. We could do walk-in only, but then if you’re celebrating a special occasion, having a meeting, or trying to have a nice night out, it sucks to not know when you’ll be able to get a table. There’s no winning.”

Ellis was at his boiling point and blew up on Twitter because he didn’t know what else to do, but what else is there to do?

According to The Evening Herald a similar situation came up with Ireland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Oliver Dunne. He publicly roasted customers who didn’t show-up for Mother’s Day on his Twitter account.  Need I mention that, that no-show ended up costing him over $1,300?  His tweet sounded something like this:

“To the 30 people who confirmed and no-showed today – well done. I’d say your mother is proud.”

Take a Side

With all of that said, what is your take on no-show diners – how should they be handled? Is it fair to publicly denounce them via social media?  What would be a better solution?

Time to sound off!

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4 Responses to Should Social Media Be Used to Shame No-Shows?

  1. Roger May 24, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I believe the simple solution is charge the customer 50% of the restaurants check average per person. I make a reservation for 4, the check average is $25, I am charged $50.00 if I don’t show. I must provide a credit card at the time of the reservation. There is a 24 hour cancellation grace period. A fax/e-mail can be sent for a signature to confirm the customer agrees. No signature, no reservation.

    Roger

    • Molly Patterson May 28, 2013 at 6:04 am #

      Hi Roger,

      That is an interesting technique and I am curious to know if you have seen a drop in reservations due to the no-show charge? Do you still battle with no-shows?

      Thanks for your input!

      Molly

  2. Patrick May 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I worked as a matrie d’ at one of my first restaurants and it was my responsibility to call every reservation every afternoon to confrim with the guest. My script was something like.. this is… with … restaurant and I am calling to confirm your 6pm reservation for 4 guests. there is no need to return this call if all information is accurate but if you have any changes in your plans please let us know to beable to better serve you.
    because of the 2 hours every afternoon I spent calling guests and that they knew we would be confriming their reservation we were able to nearly eliminate noshows and we did get credit cards for all special occasion dinners.

    • Molly Patterson May 28, 2013 at 6:11 am #

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for sharing!

      The phone call is a good reminder but it is amazing how many people refuse to call back if they are not planning to dine at your restaurant. A friend of mine works at Jax Fish House in Boulder, CO and he mentioned that over Mother’s Day weekend they had two reservations (one 12 top & one 8 top) no-show after numerous phone calls and even talking with one group on the phone. Perhaps it’s time they start taking credit card numbers…

      Molly

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