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How to reduce no shows within your hospitality business

UK Hospitality

Everyone has been given a renewed appreciation for the hospitality sector after all the recent periods of closure. It’s been tough for everyone who likes to eat and drink out.

However, despite restrictions having lifted, everyone working in hospitality remains scared of the dreaded no show. When reservations are not met by the public, resulting in a no show, venues are hit hard. 

As such, it’s important to generate awareness of the costs to our beloved eateries and watering holes.

The cost of no-shows

There are multiple layers to the cost of no shows that the average consumer is probably not aware of. While you don’t want to make them feel guilty, it is sometimes helpful to send them an email after they’ve booked thanking them, and reminding them how important it is to cancel if you can’t make it (ideally 24hrs before).

If they don’t, the cost of their no show can impact business in multiple ways:

According to certain studies, no-shows cost the industry £17.2bn a year. Broken down, that equates to £2.1m per hour.

Evidently, venues can lose a lot of money when their stock is wasted. When customers do not show up, stock is often thrown out.

No shows create an unnecessarily frustrating experience for customers who do want to sit down, but cannot due to reserved tables that appear empty. It is doubly frustrating for the proprietor who will end up losing both sets of customers.

Similarly, the business ends up paying staff for hours watching over empty tables - wasting everyone’s time and money.

Reasons for the no show

So, if no shows are so damaging to venues and customers alike, why do they happen? What are the reasons that people do not show up to their reservations?

Statistics suggest that the most common reason is a change of plan. 19% of the time, tables aren’t occupied because of plans changing, or someone in the group cancelling.

The second most common, 17% of cases, was that the restaurant was unable to reassure the customer beforehand. Closely followed by the customer simply forgetting their booking - which happens roughly 16% of the time. 

And the final reason being that in 13% of no shows, it was because the venue failed to issue a reminder of the reservation.

Reducing no shows to save time and money

There are a few ways that businesses can try to reduce no shows. 


Communication between venues and customers is the most important thing to ensure that both parties are happy with the hospitality experience. As many people who no show do it because they forget, reminding them of their booking is essential.

The right amount of dialogue often proves to be the difference between a group of potential customers honouring their reservation or not. Research shows that over a third of consumers claimed they’d have been more likely to turn up if reminded.

Plus, by communicating how important it is to let hospitality venues know if you need to cancel, you’ll help the customer ‘get’ why it’s so vital. Ultimately, with good communication they will feel closer to your business, and have a sense of duty to cancel in the proper way.


Many businesses don’t like to do this because they think it puts people off booking. But this isn’t actually that accurate. These days, customers are quite used to putting down a card or a deposit. 

The majority of customers agreed that they’d forfeit a deposit in the case of a no show, so even if they have to cancel at the last minute you won’t be losing out.

Stay connected

These days, and especially within younger demographics, building loyalty is all about staying connected. Technology can help venues develop relationships with their customers by staying in contact easily.

For example, if you employ a mobile ordering system, by simply scanning a QR code or typing in a URL using any smartphone, customers can access your profile to access table ordering, click & collect, delivery services and loyalty rewards all from the palm of their hand. They can also find you on social media, which will give your business the opportunity to wow them.

By implementing these smart business solutions, the hospitality industry can decrease the risk of no shows harming the much-needed regrowth after re-opening.

Mobile Ordering

Customers are reluctant to download more apps, and integrated mobile systems save them from using up precious phone space.

Plus, if they need to cancel, table availability can be updated much more swiftly than by hand. Managing tables with this kind of system brings the flexibility and the assurance to maximise bookings during times of high customer turnover.

Using a system like Yoello, which is accessible on any device with a web browser via a QR code, will also use opt-in data to better understand the needs of your customers. Personalised offers will help to increase return visits, and diminish the chance of no shows in the future.

Isabella Mawer
November 3, 2021

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