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By Jackie Prange
It’s 4:00 pm and your hostess, Jen, is on the floor. She takes out the big black reservation book and begins her shift by looking at a long, chicken-scratched list of reservations. She organizes them into time slots. Your restaurant is set up for a full night for reservations, and it’s off to a promising start – as long as all tables advance as anticipated.
All is well until table five decides to camp out, a birthday party orders an extra round of desserts, and the couple in the corner has a heart-to-heart while the bill sits on the edge of the table untouched. Now Jen has to answer to the hungry (and hangry) patrons in the doorway about why their table isn’t ready when their reservation was for twenty minutes ago.
Poor Jen needs backup – or just a better system for managing a busy restaurant wait list.
Enter the restaurant wait list app. Here are our top picks for restaurant wait list apps that can help you organize and filter reservations, text your customers, and make waiting in line for a table a lot less painful than it needs to be.
Earlier in 2017, Yelp bought the restaurant reservation app NoWait for $40 million. NoWait has been integrated with Yelp’s reservation function, and it’s well on its way to be one of the best restaurant wait list apps on the market.
Unlike an app like OpenTable, NoWait is more about letting customers add their name to an existing wait list, which is something you should pay attention to if your restaurant doesn’t take reservations. NoWait is free for customers who don’t want a reservation but want to know what kind of wait time they’re in for. On the restaurant management side, NoWait gives you daily analytics reports that reveal your restaurant’s average wait time and average turnover time. The app also enhances customer service by contacting your customer once their table is ready.
OpenTable has been dominating the restaurant reservation space for years, and now the app boasts connecting restaurants to 23 million diners.
As a restaurant on OpenTable, you can allow guests to book reservations from almost anywhere, including your own website, Google, TripAdvisor, etc. You can also text guests wait list updates and reservation reminders – which serves to prevent no shows and therefore maximize profits for your restaurant.
Waitlist Me (previously known as NoshList) bills itself as “the simplest waitlist app ever”. With Waitlist Me you can prioritize your diners for your hosts so they can review all reservations in chronological order and filter according to party size. You can sign up for a free version of the app, which gives you access to simple waitlist management, text and call notifications, and a public waitlist view.
HostMe stands out for its additional loyalty features on top of its waitlist management. Guests can enroll in a loyalty program on their phone and cash in a free drink or appetizer while they wait, which is a nice touch that’s unlikely to be forgotten.
Remember the wait list buzzer? On Cue is a better version of it. Once upon a time, when a restaurant was full, you’d be handed an electronic disk and were then corralled into the wait list pen, where you would wait with bated breath for your disk to buzz and light up. No more. On Cue is a simple app that allows hosts to text or call a guest when their table is ready.
Restaurant wait list software has advanced beyond inefficiency and into an era of streamlining, superior communication with customers, and a better customer experience. If your restaurant has the wonderful problem of needing a wait list app to manage your long line, you may be able to afford to invest in the technology that will make that experience a better one for your customers.
Jackie was a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro before moving into business development role. She covered the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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