More and more restaurants are looking to online booking apps to help them boost diner numbers and make more profit.

But it’s not enough to simply sign up for an online system. You have to know how to use online booking effectively, otherwise you will simply confuse and annoy your potential customers.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Here’s our eight top tips for getting the maximum value from your online booking system:

Actively encourage online booking

Online booking is best for you. That’s because it saves you time, allows you to build a contact base of customers, and many, many more reasons. It is also best for your customer, as it is easy and provides instant confirmation of their booking. So – to help you and your diners – you should promote your online booking capability at all times.

Make sure your booking app is multilingual

A good booking app should have a multilingual capability, which you should use and advertise to your customers. This is particularly important if you are located in a tourist area, as people from across the world are likely to want to book with you.

Use special offers to make money in your slow periods

Choose an online booking app that allows you to advertise special deals for certain timeslots – 20% discount on Monday lunchtimes, for example. This enables you to fill tables even when you’re normally quiet.

Make your booking policy clear and simple

Do you ask for a deposit upfront? Or take credit card details to limit no-shows? Whatever the terms of your booking policy, make sure you tell people before they book. Simply explain the process on your website, next to your booking app, so it’s clear for all to see. Otherwise you risk annoying your potential customers.

Tell people how to book in your marketing

People are busy, so it’s not enough just to promote your restaurant – they need to know how to book. Make life easy for them by including a link on social media posts that directs them straight to your booking app page. Or – if you’re using offline advertising – provide the web address and tell them to go there to book.

Take money upfront

When you have a particularly busy service coming up – e.g. Mother’s Day lunch – you can’t afford empty tables, as demand is exceeding supply. So, use your booking app to take an upfront deposit, thus boosting your cashflow and protecting yourself from no-shows.

Help your kitchen by using templates

Lots of people all ordering at once puts unnecessary pressure on your kitchen staff and can lead to problems. Avoid this by choosing an online booking app that can create templates for specific times and dates. This can be used to stop diners from all arriving at once, or to set separate sittings for a busy service – e.g. at 6pm and 9pm.

Decrease no-shows by making cancellation simple

In pre-digital days a customer would have to pick up the phone and call you to make a cancellation, which many would inevitably neglect or forget to do – leaving you with an empty table. But an online booking system makes cancellations much easier – it’s all done with a few clicks, thus decreasing your no-show rate. Also, you receive instant cancellation confirmation, allowing you to take a new booking.

Are you ready to try these techniques in your own restaurant? Then why not 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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