No one can deny just how devastating the Coronavirus Pandemic has been to our hospitality industry. In fact the latest estimates suggest we are likely to see more than half a million job losses.
Kate Nicholls is the chief executive of UK Hospitality, she told parliament last year that restrictions meant she needed to revise up a forecast of 560,000 permanent job losses.
“We anticipate that number will be far higher now as a result of the local restrictions, the national constraints on events, working from home, the curfew etc.”
As devastating a prospect as that is, there is a disease which is slowly crippling the hospitality trade here in Wales, and we are all guilty of spreading it.
We told you about this last year, and now, once again, the scourge of NO SHOWS is devastating our restaurants.
The simple facts are………
- Customers not turning up for reservations costs the industry in Wales over £500m a year.
- Around a quarter of online bookings do not turn up.
It’s one thing when an unpopular restaurant isn’t attracting customers, but it’s something altogether different when a popular establishment is fully booked and yet is empty. These NO SHOWS are having a negative impact on our hospitality trade, and unless something changes, they could be just as devastating as the pandemic itself.
It’s not only that a party doesn’t turn up for their booking. Possible reservations may have been refused, food is bought, prepared and wasted, and staff wages still have to be honoured.
Georgina Heffernan is Operations Manager of the Potted Pig, she told us…….
“After the last lockdown we saw a huge drop in no shows and the Welsh arm of the nomorenoshows campaign was really successful in getting the general public to hear our cries for common courtesy.”
“We felt that the campaign organisers, Meryl Cubley and Find My Dine, and the hospitality sector and the public all pulled together to support our industry as much as possible; and opening back up again was met with the boost that we all needed.
“But unfortunately; we are now starting to see no shows, slowly but surely building back up again. Last weekend, on Friday we had 3 tables as no shows; 2 tables were charged and 1 table had fake card details. On Saturday – 6 tables were a no show; 4 tables were charged and another table had used fake details once more and 1 table had insufficient funds in the account to charge.
On Sunday, 2 tables were a no show, and 1 table who had booked in the morning hung up twice on the host when they called to see where they were; 20 minutes after the allotted time”
The same problem is reflected at La Pentola, a popular modern Italian inspired bistro, situated in the suburbs of Cardiff. Couple Laura Keogh and Rhys (formerly of The Pot Cafe) recently experienced 8 no shows on a Friday night; and 14 no shows on a Saturday night.
Laura told us……
“We don’t just lose money because we can’t re-sell the pre-booked tables. Weekend shifts can be really busy; so we need the right amount of staff – but if people don’t turn up – we still obviously have to pay our team their wages. Then on top of that we lose money on all the produce we’ve ordered in to cover reservations.”
As the sector slowly tries to get back on its feet following Covid-19, hospitality bosses are warning that no-shows are estimated to cost Welsh businesses £540m a year.
Last year, top Welsh restaurateurs and hospitality bosses threw their weight behind the Welsh #nomorenoshows campaign to stop the hundreds of millions in lost revenue.
We feel it’s a reminder to us all that if we book a table we need to turn up, or have the decency to cancel in advance.
The industry is now facing the prospect of having to cut thousands jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, and with most bars and restaurants trying to play catch-up after the last 18 months, just a small number of no shows could put many out of business.
Meryl Cubley, a Cardiff-based media promoter and journalist, who grew up on the west Wales coast, joined forces with Find My Dine and the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) to launch the Welsh arm of the national #nomorenoshows campaign and raise awareness of the issue among consumers – and hopefully spark a change in behaviour across Wales.
Meryl told us……
“The costs of running a restaurant are already astronomical – and this is a sector that doesn’t make a lot of profit on the bottom line, after the many outgoings and utility costs are deducted. Added to that, new cleaning and hygiene practises in our post-covid world and that bumps up costs; and then you’ve got the despair and rejection our Welsh chefs and restaurateurs are feeling – who only want to be creative and cook and bring joy into the people’s lives.
“When people don’t turn up and also don’t have the common courtesy to let the restaurant know; you’re essentially looking down a path to future financial ruin for many in the sector. This is a pretty turbulent and soul destroying period for Welsh hospitality. Wales has an amazing larder; we’ve got access to some of the best ingredients in the world; and we’re blessed with a bounty on both sea and land.
The hospitality sectors in Cardiff and in Wales, are committed to showcasing these ingredients to and for everyone. But with the advent of #noshows rearing its ugly head again, it won’t be long until the Welsh food and drink sector is on its knees; and the public are going to be negatively impacted by that too.”
“It’s incredibly frustrating when we are turning tables away as we are still running at just over half capacity still to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
“Many people say charge more or charge a non refundable deposit but we understand that times are hard for everyone at the moment and we don’t want to put people off coming to visit us.”
“Because of no shows we’re going to have to start charging people a booking deposit for tables of 6 or more. But we’re already finding that people are refusing to book with us if we ask them for a deposit; especially with smaller tables.”
Jonathan Swain and Helen Wilson of Find My Dine were keen to support Meryl in promoting the campaign:
‘’You can’t work with restaurant staff and business owners as we do, and fail to be affected by what this industry is having to cope with in 2021. This reopening is a chink of light where people can save their livelihoods against huge odds. Each booking is a glimmer of hope, a step toward a more secure future. For people to just not turn up is not just demoralising: it is crippling.
Plans change: so give the restaurant a chance to fill your table by just letting them know. They’ll understand. They’ll still be happy to see you next time. But please – do tell them. You wouldn’t stand a friend up at the pub without getting in touch – and their wages don’t depend on you turning up. It’s the right thing to do as the industry rebuilds itself.”
Last year, the Welsh arm of the #nomorenoshows campaign helped multiple restaurants throughout Wales and Cardiff educate the public on what no shows actually do to the hospitality sector.
Hospitality leaders, operators and employees from all around Wales will be once more posting the #nomorenoshows tile on twitter, calling on their own network of customers, contacts, family & friends to do their bit by sharing the image and following three simple steps
- Plans change. That’s cool. Just let us know.
- Rebook – we still love you.
- Encourage friends and family to do the same.
If you’d like to show your support simply DM Meryl on Twitter – @merylcubley or you can email email@example.com
To find out more about FIND MY DINE in Wales, just go here FIND
SOUTH WALES LIFE believes that not rocking up, when we’ve effectively made a promise to the restaurant owner, is above selfish. It affect livelihoods and the future of the establishments we so clearly love.
The reaction we have to our “Eating Out Guide” pages shows there is a huge appetite for our restaurants – no pun intended.
These ‘no shows’ are likely to be the death of our favourite restaurants. Just as the establishment has a responsibility to treat us with respect and serve us well, surely we have that same responsibility too?
I for one absolutely love eating out. The whole process of getting ready, arriving with friends or family, eating, having fun and then not having to clear up or wash the dishes, is absolute heaven. Let’s not lose what we value so highly.
As the campaign says – if you can’t keep your reservation, just call the restaurant. A 30 second phone call could make all the difference.