With Beer Gardens already sold out for months across the UK, should restaurants be taking deposits for post lockdown bookings?

2 min read

With Boris Johnston announcing plans to reopen the hospitality industry from April 12th, customers are keen to make up for the lost time.

Many beer gardens claim they are sold out for months, with some pubs and restaurants claiming they are booked out until Autumn.

Some restaurants are reportedly facing twice as many reservations compared to when they reopened after the first national lockdown.

When the Birmingham restaurant, Craft, started to take bookings on 24 February just after the April restriction easing was announced by the prime minister, 147 groups – 601 people – reserved seats within 20 minutes.

This has led to a worry that a number of these bookings will “no-show” or cancel at the last minute as they have booked multiple restaurants/beer gardens to guarantee a booking.

When speaking with the Guardian here, Amanda, 20, a public relations worker living in Northumberland, claims she has made 12 bookings for beer gardens with her friends across six nights from mid-April.

“I genuinely do think we will go to them all,” she said. “If anything we might not have booked enough, but because of my brother’s [pub] business I know it’s not fair to overbook. I don’t even usually go out midweek but I struggled to get bookings so half are midweek and I’m prepared to take holiday at work.”

You may ask, is it worth enforcing deposits on bookings to prevent no-shows and late cancellations?

Ensuring you have clear deposit and booking T&C’s, it will deter parties from booking multiple restaurants at the same time before finalising their plans.

Costs of a No Show / Late Cancellations

So how much does a no show cost? If the no show was for example a party of 6 and we say the typical spend is £/$/€20 per person, and your gross profit before staff and fixed costs is 70%  – then this no show costs you £/$/€84 and your profit (or rather contribution to costs) would be £/$/€84 if they had turned up.

Even if the table was to turn up but only 4 showed due to last minute dropouts, you will still be down £/$/€56 and the possibility of another booking of 4 that you might have earlier turned away due to no availability! So you might be thinking from crunching the numbers….if only you had taken a deposit of £10 per head to cover the basic costs for that booking so that you wouldn’t be out of pocket.

If you are not entirely sure if deposits are right for you, we have another great post looking at the pro/cons of deposits vs. holding credit card details.

Benefits of Enforcing Deposits

So obviously the main reason for deposits is to secure and protect your valuable restaurant revenue but there are also a few other benefits.

You're in control of the deposit

Rather than taking full payment upfront which could discourage bookings, deposits allow you to control and decide if given certain circumstances the customers should have it returned. With simpleERB deposits, you control the booking type that requires deposits along with the ability to monitor overdue payments easily with reports.

simpleERB deposits are quick and secure to set up

Deposits are easy to set up within simpleERB with Stripe integration and you can rest easy knowing customers' details are safe and secure and not being left around scribbled on paper notes.

You can find below some FAQ articles with information;

How do deposits work in simpleERB with Stripe?

How to set up deposit booking rules

How to monitor overdue deposits easily.

If you have any further questions about deposits or would like a copy of our payment set up guide, please get in touch via help@simpleERB.com