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Lack Flexibility Costs Restaurants Millions

Monday, 08 February 2010

Owners of restaurants and cafes across the UK are missing out on millions of pounds worth of business by simply not being flexible enough for customers, according to tourism and hospitality experts iknow-uk.


iknow-uk, the UK's leading tourism, accommodation and hospitality directory, has seen an increase in people looking to make restaurant bookings at times that are traditionally out of hours - such as mornings, or mid afternoons - and businesses are losing out as a result.


62 per cent of people questioned had tried to call a restaurant to book a table, only to find that they were closed - and as a result 48 percent decided to favour convenience and book with a different company altogether.


Marcus Simmons, managing director at iknow-uk, said: "It sounds obvious, but if no-one is around to answer your phone when it rings, then you aren't going to get the business.  But we've found that there are significant numbers of customers who still can't get in touch with restaurants when they want to - so obvious or not, it's definitely an issue.


"Setting up online booking, or at least an email address which people can use to make their reservation is also a good way to address the out of hours issue.  If it's setup with an automatic reply, customers know their enquiry has been received, and a member of staff can follow up when they arrive at work."


Dan Visser, from Purdey's Restaurant in Ambleside, said:  "Restaurants really do need to consider the changing marketplace, and adapt to the fact that consumers are increasingly looking to contact businesses outside of normal trading hours.


"Our restaurant is actually part of a larger resort and hotel, so it has been easier for us to adapt our procedures to fit the needs of customers.   We have an integrated system, and staff who are available right through the day and night - but, I can imagine that it's much more difficult for small restaurant businesses, who can't afford to have contact with clients out of hours.


 "If the phone rings and no-one is around to answer it, then that's a lost opportunity for the business - you can't guarantee that the customer will try again later.  Forwarding the main phone line to a mobile, or training kitchen staff to take a booking could be cheap and easy ways for restaurants to deal with the issue - and can make a difference between getting a booking, and not."


Marcus, from iknow-uk, added:  "As simple as it sounds, these figures show that restaurants are still missing out on business because of lack of procedures to deal with out of hours enquiries.


"In this difficult economic climate, every penny counts, and small changes could make a big difference to the bottom line."


Founded by Marcus in 2003 with the iknow-yorkshire website, iknow-uk now operates 14 regional websites for accommodation and hospitality providers including restaurants, hotels, guest houses, holiday cottages and B&Bs.


iknow-uk's websites cover the UK's most popular tourist regions and are visited by almost a million users each month.


Holiday home or restaurant owners looking to list on one of iknow's regional websites, should visit www.iknow-uk.com.





Notes to Editors:

-          iknow-uk ltd launched iknow-yorkshire in September 2003. They have since launched iknow-lakedistrict, iknow-northwest, iknow-cornwall, iknow-devon, iknow-wales, iknow-scotland, iknow-dorset, iknow-kent, iknow-somerset, iknow-sussex, iknow-hampshire and iknow-northeast .

-          April 2009 saw the launch of a comprehensive hospitality section to iknow-yorkshire, which is also available on iknow-lakedistrict, iknow-northwest , iknow-devon, iknow-cornwall and soon to be available on iknow-wales.