No-shows are on the rise again. The number of customers not turning up for bookings has doubled from 6% in September 2022 to 12% in 2023, costing the industry an estimated £17.59bn per year..

A nation divided? How no-shows vary across the UK

blog icon


Meet your Zonal Innovation Team

blog icon


Meet your Zonal Support Team

Our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign is shining a light on an issue that has been a blight on the sector for far too long – our research reveals that customer no-shows collectively cost the hospitality sector a staggering £17.6bn per year. No matter where a venue is situated from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, they will have been impacted by no-shows.

However, by digging deeper and breaking down the research by region, we can bring to light trends and attitudes driving this consumer behaviour and, importantly, insights which can help operators put a stop to no-shows.

A nation divided?

From your favourite pub food, to whether you prefer coffee or tea, there are many lines you can divide the UK down, but are no-shows one of them? Well, not quite. While there are certainly differences in consumer attitudes, it’s not so easy to split the UK down the middle when it comes to the prevalence and reasons for no-shows.

What does stand out however, is that people living in London are by far the worst offenders’ with nearly a quarter of Londoners admitting to no-showing since the hospitality sector reopened in April 2021. Next in the ‘league of shame’ is the West Midlands (17%), followed by the East Midlands (16%) and the North West (15%).

However, there’s no obvious North-South divide when it comes to consumer behaviour around no shows, neither is their obvious difference between guests in England compared to those in Wales and Scotland. Consumers in the South West and South East are just as likely to show up for a reservation as they are in Scotland and Wales.

The No-Show league of shame

  • London (24% admit to being a no-show)
  • West Midlands (17%)
  • East Midlands (16%)
  • North West (15%)
  • North East (13%)
  • East of England (12%)
  • Yorkshire & Humber (12%)
  • Wales (11%)
  • South West (10%)
  • South East (10%)
  • Scotland (10%)

Urban vs Rural

Looking closer at the worst offenders, London, the West Midlands, the East Midlands and the North West – all these regions have significant urban populations. London is by far our biggest city and capital, the West Midlands comprises our second city Birmingham as well as Coventry, the East Midlands has Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and the North West with Liverpool and Manchester.

So, it’s not a great leap to conclude that consumers in city or even town centres are more likely to no show and the data backs this up. Our research shows that 14% of consumers in city centres have no showed this year, rising to 18% for consumers in town centres. The comparison with consumers in rural or suburban areas is also stark – only 5% of pub and restaurant goers in rural areas have not shown up to a booking and not told the venue in advance. The figure is just 3% for consumers in suburban areas.

There is an understandable logic to these differences as those in city and town centres have a faster-paced lifestyle, greater degree of choice and, perhaps, a more transactional relationship with pubs and restaurants. Customers are far less likely to not show up for a booking at their local village pub, than a booking at a mainstream city centre restaurant.

There’s also likely an assumption that these centrally-located venues are far more likely to be able to fill empty tables with walk-ins. However, with significantly reduced footfall in these locations as a result of the pandemic and people increasingly staying local, that opportunity has been dramatically reduced. This means no-shows are having an even greater impact on operators who are desperately trying to rebuild after a devastating 18 months.

Using tech to tackle no-shows

Communicating with customers, reminding them of their booking and giving them the means to cancel if necessary are crucial tools for operators in tackling the problem. However, there are some interesting nuances when it comes to consumer attitudes to these approaches. Over half (58%) of consumers prefer to cancel digitally, either via a website (21%), text (19%), app (10%), email (7%) social media (1%). However we are seeing that the worst offending regions are also the most tech-savvy. Londoners are the most likely to prefer to cancel digitally (69%), again followed the West Midlands (60%). The correlation between these regions and consumers in city and town centres also continues. Some 68% of city centre and town centre consumers prefer to cancel digitally compared to 49% in rural and 53% in suburban areas.

For businesses that operate venues in city or town centre locations, a frictionless and easy-to-use online booking system is crucial to reducing no-shows. However, no matter where a venue is located, providing customers with multiple options to amend or cancel their reservation whether that be via SMS, online or app, should be part of an operator’s toolkit.

The #ShowUpForHospitality campaign aims to bring to attention the huge impact no shows and to try and change consumer behaviour, but also to understand what drives that behaviour. Pubs, bars and restaurants play a vital role in our communities and while the pandemic has prompted a new-found appreciation and understanding of hospitality among many consumers, there is still more to be done in encouraging them to always honour their booking or tell the venue in advance.

We want to spread this message far and wide and keep the conversation going, so to get involved simply visit the campaign page to join the conversation and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality via LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Show Up For Hospitality Logo

Join the conversation and help us make no-shows a thing of the past

No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.59 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

Learn about the campaign

Get in touch

Chat with our sales team to learn about how Zonal products could benefit you.