Table bookings: Be fair to the pubs and don’t overbook


As the covid rules changed to table service-only, more bars and pubs have moved to online reservations of tables.

Pre-booking of tables has allowed them to manage their venues better, but it has created some issues as bookings can be made without a deposit or taking card details.

Simon Cotton is the Managing Director of the HRH which includes The Yorkshire Hotel, Fat Badger and White Hart Hotels.

Simon Cotton said:

We are certainly encouraging people to book ahead as that helps us in the industry and the customer to know they have a table when they get there.

We have to manage each of a venues to the maximum capacity – each section of each venue has a maximum capacity in a safe socially distanced way.

We have door staff at peak times to help the flow of people in and out of the building.

Some pubs and bars have experience a high-rate of no-shows for bookings.

Simon Cotton said:

The problem comes when people book a table and don’t turn up. We are definitely seeing across the industry people booking 3, 4 or even 5 different venues to give the option of what would be an old-fashioned pub crawl – the let’s go out from venue to venue for a drink.

Rather than be stood at the door or risk being turned away they are booking somewhere.

But people are then extending their stay at one venue and not moving on to the next and as an industry that is costing us revenue that we really really can’t afford right now.

Social distancing measures and the government are not allowing standing space by bars to be used and has decreased the capacity of many pubs by 50%, with many reporting that prior to the 10pm curfew they were barely breaking even.

Simon Cotton said:

It’s seated-only and table service only now, so not having anyone stood at the bar reduces capacity quite considerably.

But I want to send a message to everyone that we are still open, we are open safely and have put in measures.

We have the spaced, social distanced capacity in place, the staff are fully trained, wearing PPE and we are asking customers to wear PPE when moving around.

But we are creating a great atmosphere and still having a lot of fun. We want people to come out and support us, whether coming into Scran or the Fat Badger or anyone of the other great venues in town.


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