Patrons who fail to show up for their dinner reservations can throw a major wrench into things for restaurants, who typically operate on razor-thin margins — and restaurants in Australia are fighting back. The country's most popular online reservations service, Dimmi — think Australian OpenTable — has banned more than 3,000 people from booking tables at restaurants they've previously snubbed, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. This list does not include people who called to cancel, only people who didn't cancel before not showing up.
According to Dimmi, the no-show rate for customers who book reservations through its system hovers around 4 percent. The company instituted its new banning policy just before Valentine's Day, one of the biggest dining-out nights of the year. Under the new system, restaurants are also able to store customers' credit card data so they have the option of hitting no-shows with a fee.
Here in the U.S., OpenTable also tracks diners who no-show on their reservations. Users who fail to show up for their reservations four times within a one-year period will have their accounts deactivated. OpenTable also tries to prevent no-shows by blocking customers from booking tables at multiple restaurants within the same time period, something that Dimmi says it plans to introduce soon, according to the Herald.
Tracking customers and requiring a credit card at the time of booking are just two ways restaurateurs can deal with no-shows, which, especially for a small restaurant, can often mean the difference between a profitable night and operating at a loss. Some restaurants deliberately overbook tables in an attempt to mitigate this; these days, many restaurants are choosing to eschew reservations altogether.
But diners who don't want to be barred from their favorite restaurant for ditching a reservation really only need keep one thing in mind: common courtesy. A simple phone call to a restaurant to let them know they won't be making it ensures that the table can be given away to another paying customer.