walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Dinner Reservations

The immediate spark for this post is a long piece over at Quartz arguing for a reputation system for diners, and also describing a system that someone is developing for discouraging no-shows at restaurant reservations.

"The concept is simple: instead of calling, prospective dinners will visit a restaurant’s website and buy tickets for a set time and date. Restaurants will also have the option of only asking for a smaller deposit—say $20—that is applied to the check, rather than the full cost of the meal.

The software will be ready later this year and 17 restaurants have already signed up."


I would note that the Tasting Dinner at Flying Fish at WDW already does the first option (paying for the full meal in advance).

Some years ago, when we first started going to WDW, I remembered our most recent trip to Disneyland Resort, and some character meals we had there. I had never previously been a fan of sit down meals at Disney, but I was pretty sold after that. However, walking up and hoping for a table never works at Disney; you have to book in advance. Like, 6 months in advance. My initial strategy (I got this from advocates online) was to book numerous meals (none at exactly the same time), with the idea that it was easier to cancel than to get a spontaneous reservation, and there was no cost. After a few years of doing this, WDW apparently had had enough of people like me, and some restaurants adopted a policy of asking for a credit card and charging you $20/person on the reservation if you didn't cancel within 1-2 in advance of the reservation. Among other things, that discouraged people like me from booking additional people on the reservation, on the premise that it was easier to subtract diners than add.

"“The reservation apps are totally customer centric, but they don’t really solve the restaurant’s problem,” says Brian Fitzpatrick, Kokonas’s chief technology officer. “One of the biggest problems isn’t just no-shows, it’s when only part of the party shows and you have to give a party of 2 the table of 4 they booked."

Based on what WDW has already done, I expect that Kokonas' project, or something like it, will become a part of the dining reservation process going forward. But as someone who only very rarely makes reservations far in advance (with the exception of Disney trips), I'm unlikely to encounter it, since I mostly still just call the restaurant.
Tags: disney, our future economy today
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