Putting up barriers: the issues with booking systems

Mike Conyers, ResDiary CEO:


“Have you read any restaurant related news articles recently that haven’t been about no-shows? No me neither. It’s an issue that has chefs ranting to their Twitter followers, owners writing to the press, and everyone in hospitality tearing (what’s left of) their hair out.


In the quest to figure out why no-shows are such an issue, restaurant booking systems seem to take much of the blame. The general consensus is they’re impersonal, there’s no connection to the restaurant, and diners don’t care about not turning up because of it.

And do you know what? I agree…

The relationship that many venues have with their booking system is toxic. Here are just a few of the main issues that are creating restaurant/diner barriers and making the situation worse:


  • Diners visiting booking sites become that site’s customers, not yours. You can’t personalise that site, meaning they feel no connection so no guilt if they don’t show up.
  • Booking communications are branded to look like the booking site, building their profile instead of yours, and taking away that restaurant/diner relationship.
  • Once the third party gets hold of a diner’s email address, they send them recommendations of other venues nearby. That original booking is looking way less exciting to them now….
  • Many booking sites use Google ads to steal your customers. They type in your restaurant’s name, the third party ad comes up, and the potential guest clicks there. They’re then taken to a site where you either pay £2 a cover in commission, or they’re recommended other restaurants.
  • In order to promote their own offers, on their own sites, venues need to pay extra money to their booking system.


The above issues are something that have been plaguing hotels for years. It’s well-documented that the leisure industry has an issue with Online Travel Operators (you know the ones I mean), who have got them in an impossible spot. Travellers have no affiliation with the hotel brand and they just automatically go to an OTA site to book, costing operators in commissions and deals.


Fortunately the restaurant industry isn’t quite there yet. But there’s no doubting we’re getting there.


Venues are paying hundreds of pounds to booking systems for reservations on nights like Black Friday, when they could have filled their seats without paying a penny. They’re having to turn off their online bookings on busy nights to save on commission, taking them away from their guests to answer multiple phone calls. They’re having to pay money on Google ads to get their own website above the ads the booking sites have placed. It’s getting out of hand, and in this current business climate, it’s just not sustainable.

That’s why at ResDiary we try to work differently, looking at an alternative way of doing things so restaurateurs don’t end up in the same place as hoteliers. We do none of the points above. I started ResDiary as a frustrated restaurateur, at the end of my tether with the way my businesses were treated by the booking platforms available. So here’s what we do instead:

  • We allow all our booking widgets to be branded by you. You choose your colours, your logo, and your layout and you create something that aligns with your brand and matches your site.
  • Our commission-free booking portal lets you write your own copy, add your own images, and upload your own menus. It works with your brand and follows your booking rules.
  • Confirmation, reminder, and post dining emails are all designed and written by you, allowing you to add in extra information or special offers. Regardless of where the diners book from (your site, our sites, or third parties) they get that same email.
  • Your diners’ email addresses belong to you. We don’t send them promos about nearby restaurants. We do help you send out your own marketing emails, free from our system.
  • We don’t apply pay per click advertising to your brand name to squeeze more money in commission from you. Our booking portal, www.resdiary.com, lets guests find new venues near them, and book, which should bring you entirely new diners.
  • We have features like Promotions and Variable Pricing, allowing you to sell your offers and special events on your own sites, and ours, at no extra cost. It saves your customers being diverted to deal sites, devaluing your product.

What’s more, ResDiary gives you the tools to call unconfirmed bookings, send reminders, block no-shows, and much more. We can’t stop everyone from no-showing, but we can help with features like deposits, ticketing, and storing card details to charge the card if someone fails to turn up.

Yes, we’re a business, but we’ve got to where we are today (nearly 9000 restaurants in 62 countries FYI) by understanding the issues that you face, not trying to steal your customers. Operators are our customers and we’ll continue to act as your partner, not your supplier.”


Whether you’re a customer with some questions, or a restaurateur looking for a better way of taking bookings, we’d love to talk to you. Get in touch with the team who will be delighted to discuss how you can lower your costs, while building your brand. 


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