When business is booming, your restaurant will have more customers than you’ll have tables available. While this is great for profits, potential customers may not want to wait for the next table to be available.
Previously, hostesses would use a pen and paper to keep track of guests as they arrived and use this written list to estimate wait time. When the customer’s table was open, the hostess would call the customer’s name over a scratchy sounding PA system that hopefully, the guest could hear. When the technology came available, restaurants upgraded to coaster-sized buzzers that alerted customers that they’re next in line.
Nowadays, everyone has a smart device in their pocket via their cellphone. This will open up plenty of new opportunities to connect with customers about how busy your restaurant currently is, ultimately improving restaurant management and efficiency for both the business and the customer.
What Is the Benefit of Waitlist Apps?
Waitlist apps give customers the advantage of knowing what they’re walking into when they arrive at a restaurant. The data that the apps use help remove the human error by giving an accurate estimation of wait time and don’t rely on a host giving their best guess.
Waitlist apps allow customers to check-in online through the restaurant website and see an approximation of their wait time. Knowing this gives customers the freedom to spend their waiting time however they please, knowing they’ll have a table available when they arrive. Many waitlist apps sync directly with a restaurant’s POS system, allowing customers to get get an alert or text message when their table is ready, eliminating the need for pagers. Better customer experience will prevent diners and profits from walking out of the door when they hear a long wait time.
Many companies have realized the need to improve waitlist management. Below are eight of the best waitlist apps currently available.
8 Best Waitlist Apps in 2020
- Yelp Waitlist (NoWait)
- Waitlist Me
- On Cue
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1. Yelp Waitlist (NoWait)
Formerly NoWait, Yelp has integrated all of the features of NoWait into its app.
Yelp Waitlist allows restaurants to manage their entire front of house operations. Customers can use the Yelp app (that they’re more likely to have already installed) to add themselves to the current waitlist. Restaurants can upload their restaurant floor plan and manage table turnover all in-app. Diners will receive a text with a link allowing them to track their place in line.
Yelp Waitlist requires an iOS device to operate, and the company recommends using an iPad. Yelp requires a conversation with its Restaurant Success team to learn more about pricing for their services.
OpenTable provides a solution for restaurants that goes beyond just the waitlist. Depending on which one of the three products is purchased, restaurant owners can manage their reservations, data reporting, and digital marketing from the OpenTable platform.
OpenTable Connect has all of the same features as most waitlist apps, allowing customers to check-in and be alerted when their table is available. OpenTable Guest Center is an enterprise system that also assists front of house staff by showing the progress of a table during their meal, server sections, and even assist in server rotation to make sure all available servers are getting tables.
Restaurants that use the GuestCenter OpenTable system pay $249/ month +$1 per seated online cover.
OpenTable Connect – the reservation only based product – has no monthly fee and will only charge $.25 per seated cover from the website and $2.50 per seated cover from OpenTable.
3. Waitlist Me
Waitlist Me is an app that takes the pen and paper routine and makes it digital.
Hosts will add the guest to the Waitlist Me app where they can add notes, color code, and record any information about guests that they want to note. If guests share their phone number, they will receive a text message with a link to show their current place in line. When a table is open, staff can notify diners via text or phone call.
Waitlist Me is free to use for up to 100 customers a month. For additional customers and increased premium features, Waitlist Me charges $19.99/month.
HostMe offers an all-in-one option for restaurants. HostMe is cloud-based and is accessible from any computer or mobile device.
HostMe includes reservation management, table management, and server management tools. A guest book feature acts as a CRM, allowing employees to take notes of guests for the next time they return. HostMe can integrate with a restaurant’s website with a WordPress plugin and begin taking online reservations.
HostMe offers three tiers of plans priced at $29/month, $79/month, and $149/month with different features unlocked at each level. Discounts are available for annual and bi-annual commitments.
5. On Cue
On Cue differs from other waitlist apps as it not only can send text messages to customers but also uses notification pagers. On Cue features quick guest entry and custom text messaging. When guests are seated, the table management features allow table status to be updated easily. Guests can choose if they would like to be notified by text message, pager, or both to help increase staff and customer communication.
The On Cue app is free for restaurants that send under 300 texts per month. On Cue premium texting packages are $19.99/month for 1,000 text messages and $599.88 for unlimited text messages.
TablesReady lets guests check-in and communicates with employees without the need for additional hardware. TablesReady works on the browser of any device.
When a customer joins the waitlist, they’re added by phone number to the bottom of the queue. As the table becomes available, the hostess can send a text message notifying the customer. The customer can text back, and employees can view responses on the TablesReady dashboard.
TablesReady has unlimited texting and calling for $69.95 a month, and with no contract, restaurants can cancel during their slow season and start back up with no hassle.
Waitwhile is the intelligent waitlist app. Guests can check-in to the waitlist by sending a text, email, or Slack message. Once their dining experience is complete, patrons are thanked and asked for a review allowing managers to find unhappy guests before they can post negatively online. Waitwhile integrates with SalesForce, Google Calendar, Slack, and thousands of other popular restaurant software and services.
Waitwhile has a free option available and paid plans at $49/month and $129/month. An enterprise plan is available for eateries that need a custom made solution.
NextME is a mobile app and self-service kiosk that helps restaurateurs manage their waitlist of walk-in customers. After being added to the waitlist, customers receive a simple SMS text and web link to monitor their position in line. NextME partners with restaurants to help deliver a unique mobile marketing experience for guests on this page by allowing them to customize it to display their digital menus, social media pages, internal review platforms and more to help retain guests during dreaded wait times.
NextME is free to use for up to 200 customers a month. For additional customers and increased premium features, NextME offers flexible plans that start at $29.99 per month. An enterprise plan is available for restaurants that need a custom solution.
It’s Time to Choose the Right Waitlist App for Your Restaurant
It’s time to move past flustered hosts shuffling through dozens of papers of names. Waitlist apps help manage wait time expectations and create a better dining experience for the customer.
More Resources to Manage Your Restaurant Better in 2020:
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