I have recently had to charge a group for two guests who did not turn up on the night. I was questioned and told “That’s not fiar!” I do not like to have to do this really, however, why should we lose money because they couldn’t be bothered to call me before dinner service – or before they arrived at all! One couple had to return to Sydney at midday that day. A little courtesy would have been appreciated. I had taken the credit card less than 48 hours when I confirmed the numbers from the lady who had booked . I had told her that the credit card would be used for “security” if there was no notice of a change to the reservation. Unfortunately, that lady was the guest who could not come and her friends were left short on the reservation. Maybe I was not clear what “security” meant – was it my fault for not spelling out that I would charge the card if any or all of the party did not turn up? Did she expect me to hire body guards? I do not know, however, I trust there is no ambiguity an more.
I hope I am not breeching any copy laws here, yet, I wanted to share with you a blog in which Carey Jones says all and more than I could. We have added a page to our website with a few details about our bookings policy and this is an interesting blog I came across in my research. Should Restaurants Charge No-Show Fees?  http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/04/should-restaurants-charge-no-show-fees.html
“We’ve all had to cancel a dinner reservation. Life happens. And a courteous diner will call in advance and give the restaurant reasonable notice.” All I am asking for is “reasonable notice” for which I would expect a phone call before the beginning of the service for which the reservation was made. If you have booked a dinner at 7.00 for dinner, please call me before 5.30pm when we open for dinner. This means that I can rearrange tables and allocate tables accordingly before customers arrive. If I have to be moving tables and rearranging tables when there are customers in the restaurant, it makes the restaurant look disorganised and unprofessional, which is not how we want to be viewed.
We are not a big restaurant with waiting lists well into the next year, however, with three restaurants in our little town that has many tourists on weekends, Saturday nights do often book out. We appreciate some notice of cancellation not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of the people who we have had to turned away without dinner.
Bookings are preferred so we can have food and staff on hand to provide the service that we desire to offer our guests. All we ask is that if you have a change to the booking, please let us know as soon as possible – at least before that service starts.