Christmas will certainly be different this year. Even if right at this moment we don't know what restrictions will be in place, it will be a socially distanced festive season and Christmas.
simpleERB can help you to plan your booking diary and table layout to ensure that you are safely taking customer bookings. Making changes to your settings now will make certain you won't be behind and trying to rearrange customers' bookings when they start to come in.
We've created a comprehensive checklist below linking out to further help articles to help you.
Closed days and new table layouts
- Closing out - Use the closed days setting to prevent bookings being made on festive dates you will be closed.
- Table layout - You could create a new socially distanced table layout just for Christmas with limited/spaced tables and edits to normal max table covers, or open up a private event area to give you more space between tables.
Capacity and booking settings
- Max covers - Reconfigure your max covers per timeslot taking into consideration new restrictions in place for booking capacity.
- Booking sizes - To restrict customer booking sizes to adhere to 'the rule of 6', change your smallest/largest setting here.
- Widget availability - Adjust your widget max booking size to avoid customer confusion, increase advance booking time to increase control on online bookings, or close out the widget for certain timeslots.
- Changes to opening hours - Use partial open days setting to rearrange trade hours, amend last booking times due to new tier restrictions or change your normal timeslots into 'sittings'.
- COVID cleaning - Add a cleaning buffer time to the bookings stay time without customers being aware of extra time allocated. This will give staff enough time to safely clean down tables between bookings.
- Sitting timeslots - You may find it easier to control capacity by changing your timeslots to sittings.
- Keeping customers informed - Ensure you have all your bases and notification settings covered so customers are aware of your social distancing policy and what procedures you have in place to reassure your customers to dine with you. Most restaurants will also have a dedicated section on their homepage outlining their procedures.
- Walkin tables - You may wish to set a selection of tables aside for walkins only, find out how to do this here.
- Contacting customers - Use your customer database and export reports to gain customer contact information if you need to inform them of changes to bookings for new restrictions.
- COVID Track and Trace - Use your Diary View and the Print Diary button to access past dates booking information along with the table numbers if required for COVID track and trace authorities.
- Menu allocation - To keep costs down this year and avoid unnecessary wastage, stick to a couple of set festive menus for customers to select from. You can then add these bookable menus as 'booking offers' for online customers to select when booking. This will allow the kitchen team to be prepared in advance for service. Click here for further information on booking offers.
Decrease no shows and late cancellations
- Secure revenue - Set up deposits or card capture with Stripe integration to assist with guaranteeing customers booking to deter no-shows and late cancellations. In simpleERB you can add this feature just for the festive season if required.
- Enforce a no-show fee - Using credit card capture to secure card details against a booking, if a customer did no show you could take a no-show fee from within your Stripe account. You need to highlight your no-show policy clearly in terms and conditions here.
- Monitor deposits - Keep on top of customers' deposits by reviewing the report that highlights unpaid or overdue deposits. Customers are sent deposit reminders if you add a due date to the deposit rule.
- Booking reminders - Set up email or SMS (chargeable) booking reminders to ensure customers are able to easily cancel or confirm attendance so your diary is showing live availability.
- Terms & conditions - If you are taking deposits or enforcing a no show fee, make sure your customers are aware of these booking conditions by outlining these clearly in your terms and conditions or on your website above the widget to avoid customer disputes.
- Keeping waitlists - With limited booking capacity, there may be peak times you appear as fully booked to customers looking to book or it may result in turning away a walkin. You can easily keep an advance waitlist here or a present-day waitlist here within simpleERB. We suggest maybe adding a section above your online widget to advise guests to call to be added to a waitlist. This will help to hopefully refill empty seats from late cancellations and no-shows.
- Messages for staff - You can add messages here to appear to staff in simpleERB permanently or on certain days to remind them of specific booking requirements or things they might need to tell or ask customers for booking restrictions.
- Deposit procedure - With Stripe integration for deposits, your staff will not need to handle customer payment details by the procedure being PCI and SCA (PSD2) compliant.
- User authority logins - During a busy service, it could be easy for a staff member to accidentally override a booking setting if simpleERB is logged in as a manager/owner. We suggest setting up a general booking login as waiter access for staff to use during service where managers/owners can then add in their logins to override.