Mitchells & Butlers picks up 27,000 extra bookings per week with Bookings by Phone

Introducing Mitchells & Butlers

Founded in 1898 with the merger of two Midlands brewing and pub empires

Operates around 1,700 pubs and restaurants across the UK

Incorporates 18 brands across its portfolio

Constantly innovating to remain the venue of choice for a relaxed meal

“Every missed booking didn’t just mean losing income – it also meant our customers were left disappointed. We wanted a system that could capture every booking and offer customers a superior booking experience at any time of the day or night.”
Dave Blackhurst, Operations Director Mitchells & Butlers

The business challenge

Mitchells & Butlers was aware that their telephone booking system wasn’t ideal for customers trying to book, that it compromised the experience of in-venue customers, and led to missed revenue.

Not all calls to venues were being answered

Answering calls meant pulling staff away from ​​​​​​​in-session diners

Calls would bounce to an expensive central reservations office but the office wasn’t open 24/7, leaving customers unable to book

This is the Zonal phone booking system

The solution

Following a trial at selected venues, Mitchells & Butlers rolled out Zonal Bookings in 850 sites – about half of its estate – across six brands.

  • Bookings are processed according to real-time availability
  • Information is automatically shared across the booking platform to update all integrated systems
  • If the desired date and time isn’t available, the system will offer the closest available slots
  • Confirmation of each booking is sent by SMS

Zonal Bookings uses online booking technology to create an automated phone conversation with each customer looking to make a booking. It captures key information by asking questions such as: “What date would you like to book for? For how many people? What time would you like?”


The uplift in bookings – and therefore revenue – was huge. With all telephone enquiries and bookings automatically processed, there was no risk of calls going unanswered and bookings going to the competition instead. Staff were free to deliver great service to in-venue customers without being distracted by incoming calls.

Additional bookings per week
Paid in commission
Of calls answered automatically

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