You’re in the restaurant trade, so your business lives or dies on the amount of bookings you get.

But how do you boost your bookings? How do you get more customers through your door, sitting at your tables and paying for your food?

Well, in the digital age you need look no further than the online booking app. Gone are the days when customers had to rely on the phone to make a booking with you. Now they can do it all through their computer or smartphone.

Which is great news for you, as it makes booking infinitely easier. A few clicks and a bit of typing and, hey presto, booking made and confirmation emails sent.

But online booking apps offer a host of other benefits to you, some you may not even have thought of. Here’s our top four:

Keep in contact with your customers

When people book online they supply you with something very valuable – their email address. This allows you to build a database of people who have eaten in your restaurant and – if you’re good at what you do – like your food. This is incredibly powerful, as it allows you to send out marketing emails to all your existing customers. This could be to promote a special offer, publicise a new menu, announce a chef appointment, or wish them season’s greetings. The possibilities are endless and each time you send an email you remind your customers of your brand and your food.

Make money even when you’re shut

Even with lights out and blinds drawn, you can still be making money – as an online booking app is operational 24/7. So, while you relax or sleep, your digital booking partner is pulling in the customers and setting you up for a busy service.

Get on with what you’re good at

If you take a lot of phone bookings, then you know how time-consuming it can be – not only must you have a conversation, but you then have to record the booking. An online booking system cuts out the need for the telephone and records everything automatically, leaving you free to get on with something more useful.

Cut back on empty tables

There’s nothing worse for a restaurateur than an empty table, particularly when it’s the result of a no-show. Online systems help with this problem as they make cancellations easy – it can all be done with a few clicks – rather than picking up the phone and calling, which so many people either can’t be bothered, or simply forget, to do. You then receive instant confirmation of the cancellation, allowing you to take on a new booking.

The advantages of online booking are obvious. But, you must be careful – as not all booking systems are the same. So, what sort of features should you be looking out for?

This is what a good, efficient and versatile online booking system should be able to do for you:

Be quick and easy to install on your website

Integrate with online payment systems such as Paypal, Stripe and Paysera. This boosts your cash flow as you can take deposits online and receive payment in advance for special dinners and events. Some systems can even take deposits from groups, with each individual able to pay their own share directly.

Allow you to create templates for specific times and dates. This can help your kitchen by stopping diners from all arriving at once, or allow you to set separate sittings for a service, e.g. at 6pm and 9pm.

Integrate with TripAdvisor, so you can boost your rating by encouraging customers to leave reviews. It’s also useful if this can be done selectively, for example by automatically sending an email to customers who have sent you a five-star rating via your own feedback system.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to use an online booking system, with the overall advantage of encouraging more people to use your restaurant.

To allow you to test these benefits, we’d like you to try our own booking system – Tablein – free for 14 days. There’s no cost, no catch and no obligation – just fill in the simple form below to get started.

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How To Get The Most From Your Email Marketing

Email marketing is simply the best way to promote your restaurant. It’s fast, it’s cheap and can connect you instantly with hundreds (if not thousands) of customers at the press of a button.

But it is not a fool proof system, there are many things you have to think about and do to make your email campaigns successful.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here’s our guide to successful email marketing in the restaurant sector:

Build your list

For your email marketing campaign to be successful, you need a good list of people to send to – and that means existing and potential customers.

The easiest way to build up a strong list is to collect email addresses through an online booking app, as when people book with you in this way they supply their email address. You can also collect email addresses from a form on your website that invites people to sign up for your messages. Try offering an incentive – such as a free recipe eBook – in exchange for signing up.

Be careful with what you send

Email marketing can be great for building your business, but you must think carefully about what you’re sending. If you just send out endless pointless emails then you will annoy your recipients and they will unsubscribe. Instead, you must send emails that are actually helpful – this could be offers, deals, or useful information such as new menus or an expanded wine list.

So, think carefully about each email and ask yourself this question – does this help the recipient in some way? If the answer is no, then rewrite it!

Link it to other marketing channels

You shouldn’t just rely on email marketing to build your business. There are other ways to increase the popularity of your restaurant, such as social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest are great promotion methods, so make sure you direct people to your social media accounts through your emails. The more contact they have with you the better!

Choose good email software

If you are sending out marketing emails to more than a handful of recipients, then you need to start using email delivery software – as it lets you complete the whole process in just a few clicks. There are many options out there but we recommend Mailerlite. It’s cheaper than MailChimp, the market leader, but still has great features – such as an easy to use email editor, subscribe and unsubscribe notifications, subscriber management, and campaign reports. Also, Mailerlite offers 24/7 support by email and webchat for paying customers.

Are you ready to try email marketing for your own restaurant? Then sign up to our online booking system – Tablein – and start collecting addresses! It’s free for 14 days and there’s no catch and no obligation – just fill in the simple form below to get started.


Email is the cheapest, easiest and quickest way to stay in touch with your restaurant’s customers. And using an online booking system allows you to harvest email addresses each time someone makes a booking with you, providing you with a very powerful marketing resource.

But you have to think carefully about your email campaigns for them to be successful.

Here’s our top five tips on running email campaigns that work:

Start using email software 

Once you have a database of customers, you can contact them regularly. To do this effectively you need some good email software that allows you to send an email to hundreds of people with just a few clicks.

In our experience MailChimp is best, but it can get pricey if you have a large database of customers. Our second choice would be MailerLite, which – although not quite as good as MailChimp – is cheaper. 

Make your email worth reading

People are busy, so your emails must include something that is going to interest or tempt them. This could be a discount or an offer, or equally an interesting announcement about a new menu or new chef in your kitchen.

Be smart with your subject line

So many emails flood our inboxes each day that only a choice few are actually read, with most deleted after a cursory glance at the subject line. So yours must stand out to separate it from all the others in your recipient’s inbox.

An easy way to do this is to hint at what you are offering. For example, if you are offering a 10% discount on your new spring menu then a subject line that says ‘Open this and save 10% on our new spring menu’ gets right to the point and will catch the eye. The temptation is to try and be clever with a punning line such as ‘spring into the new season with us’, but that will do nothing for your open rates.

Use your customers’ names

Your online booking app will allow you to collect names as well as email addresses, so you should use these effectively. Don’t start your emails with something impersonal like ‘Dear valued customer’ – instead, use each customer’s name to build up a rapport with them. Everyone likes to be addressed by their name, so this will make your email campaign much more effective.

Using email software makes this even easier, as it will automatically insert each individuals’ name for you

Make sure you ask them to book

Lastly, and most importantly, every single email you send must encourage your customers to actually book a table at your restaurant! This may sound obvious, but is often overlooked. If you explicitly ask your reader to do something, they are more likely to do it. If you don’t ask them, they are less likely to do it.

So, a simple message at the end of each email that directs the reader to your booking app will work wonders.

It costs you nothing to put our online booking system to the test, as we offer a no cost, no obligation 14-day trial. Just fill in the short form below to get started.

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