Parents: More likely to no-show, less likely to understand the impact

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What makes people loyal to hospitality and how venues can maintain their loyalty

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By Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal

As part of our latest campaign #ShowUpForHospitality, we have taken a deep dive into the whys and wherefores of no-shows in hospitality – a practice that costs the industry an astonishing £17.5bn a year.

Our research, in partnership with CGA, found that younger consumers are particular offenders but a second group also emerged as more likely to no show than others – parents.

Since hospitality reopened in April 2021, 15% of parents have failed to turn up for their booking without telling the venue in advance (compared to only 4% of non-parents). Perhaps even more concerning to operators, however, one-fifth (21%) say they are more likely to no-show than they were before the pandemic – much higher than those without children (6%).

Worryingly, this group is extremely valuable to hospitality. Consumers with children are more frequent visitors to venues, with 37% of parents visiting the trade once a week compared to 24% of non-parents and the research shows they also spend more per month. Yet they are also the least likely to recognise the damage not turning up does to pubs, bars and restaurants, with a mere 35% of parents saying they recognise and understand the impact not turning up has on such business, compared to 47% of non-parents.

All this demonstrates why it is vital that hospitality businesses put in place tools to allow busy parents to amend or cancel bookings if needed. And this is particularly true now, as we approach Christmas – a key trading period that in 2021 will be even more significant to the industry than it usually is, given that last year Christmas got cancelled.

With this in mind, here’s some key ideas and advice to help you encourage parents, and indeed anyone likely not to turn up, to #ShowUpForHospitality.

  • Clear communication with parents

Parents are busy and the research shows that has a knock-on effect to hospitality because 17% of parents said they forget about their reservations. Some 15% say they did not honour a booking due to not being reminded and a further 14% agree that they would be less likely to no-show if they were contacted by the venue ahead of their booking.

This highlights the importance of keeping in touch with this group in particular. So, we recommend setting up email or text alerts to remind customers about their booking ahead of their arrival.

  • Provide parents with multiple ways to amend a booking

Providing multiple options for frazzled parents to cancel their reservations is key. Our research has revealed that 45% of parents are more interested in using digital channels to help them cancel and amend bookings vs 36% of non-parents. Bear this mind and make sure you switch on multiple channels to make life easier for them.

From email, text and app to online functions, ensuring the correct digital tools are in place will help customers inform you that they need to cancel and help you encourage them to amend their booking as opposed to cancelling completely.

  • Consider deposits

Interestingly, in general consumers have become more willing to pay to secure a booking and even pay a fee if they don’t show up and there’s no evidence to suggest parents feel any differently. In fact, the research shows 51% of UK pub and restaurant goers are happy to pay a deposit to book a table, and even more (55%) are in favour of paying no-show fees.

Whereas traditionally there has been a scepticism and nervousness around the use of deposits and no-show fees in hospitality, this latest insight shows that, while a blanket approach may not be the optimum way forward for operators, consumers are far more inclined to accept them than we previously thought – and for a wider range of occasions.

This shows that deposits and no-show fees shouldn’t just be reserved for high-end restaurants or Valentine’s Day and Christmas but are a legitimate tool for reducing no shows during busy trading periods.

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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

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