Local diners have reacted angrily to plans to introduce a booking charge in all restaurants in Galway in 2012.
The Restaurant Association of Ireland recently revealed their plans to roll out a €10 per person booking fee from January in an effort to combat the 15 per cent of ‘no-show’ reservations currently damaging the industry.
Galway native Adrian Cummins, who is Chief Executive of the RAI, said that the number of no-shows had increased dramatically in recent times and would have a knock-on effect on business and staff in local restaurants if not addressed.
“Many restaurants implemented a €10 per person booking deposit for groups over four for the Christmas season and we will be recommending that this continue as the norm in 2012. The booking deposit is deducted from the bill on payment for the meal,” he said.
“People often don’t realise the impact that ‘no shows’ can have on a restaurant. If it is a 60 seater venue and you’ve booked a table of 20 for an event and then fail to turn up, you’ve cost that restaurant a third of their income for that night. This is even more of an issue for restaurants outside of Dublin who would find it more difficult to fill tables on short notice.”
Initial reaction from consumers to the news has been widely negative, with some diners saying it would discourage them from attending a restaurant and others expressing concerns over giving credit card details over the phone while making a booking.
Despite this lukewarm response, Mr Cummins is confident that the move will boost businesses and said that a “change of mindset” was needed.
“People give a deposit when booking flights and hiring cars etc, we just need them to get used to doing that with restaurants too. About 50 per cent of restaurants are already doing this for larger tables, so in 2012 we want to roll this out across the board and have some uniformity.
“As regards the security concerns with booking over the phone, we would hope to have a system in place next year whereby diners can book their table online, and pay the charge through PayPal or some other secure system. We are in discussions about this at the moment.”