We are all part of a mobile generation where products and services of almost every business are now just a click away. F&B is one such domain which is increasingly penetrating into the digital world.
Apart from online food ordering, restaurant reservation is another aspect this industry is keenly working on. People can browse through an eatery’s menu, reserve a seat, and pay for their meal all via a mobile app or website.
Pre-reservation not just saves them time, but also steers them clear of the hassles in case the tables are already occupied.
If you are the restaurant owner, you would know exactly what it is like to manage bookings day in and day out.
Handling all those phone calls, manually showing people to their seat, taking orders, and sometimes even managing cancellations is easier said than done.
Schedules could get overlapped because to err is human. Demands might surpass supply leaving your chefs all beaten up.
This is where you need a restaurant reservation app. The question is how to develop the best one?
Types of Restaurant Reservation Systems
Before we delve into the details, there are two types of online reservation systems for restaurants:
- Third party mobile apps built by someone else where restaurant owners can only list their tables.
- Dedicated mobile apps for your own restaurant where owners can customize the way they want to attract guests directly.
Your choice would depend a lot on your budget.
If you own an eatery and would not like to invest in building a platform of your own, a third party site or application should be your best bet.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid the monthly or yearly expenses of using third-party reservation platforms, building a dedicated restaurant reservation app should be your goal.
Why Build a Dedicated Reservation App for your Restaurant?
The last thing you would want in your eatery is empty tables. You pay for the manpower, infrastructure, power bills, utilities, and of course, the food you prepare.
However, everything boils down to zero when tables are open and sales aren’t rising. By the same token, you also do not want your guests to go home disappointed because they could not find a seat in your restaurant.
Where the Internet is easily accessible, a food lover should be able to book a table and order a meal without having to visit the place in person initially.
This is where you want to give them the convenience of pre-booking. A dedicated restaurant app is the solution you need.
How does a reservation app benefit a restaurant owner?
- Receive advanced information about the number of guests visiting you and the schedule.
- Because meals are pre-booked, you can prepare the dishes in advance, thereby reducing wastage of food.
- Lower instances where you have to refuse service to customers due to non-availability of cuisines.
- Reduce the chances of empty tables, increase sales, and improve ROI.
- Gain full control over your resources in a single, centralized platform.
- Access key information that helps you analyze guest expectations.
- Do away with manual bookings and save time.
- Send out direct messages of non-availability so you do not disappoint your customers.
- Interact with your guests on social media integrated in your app.
- Attract repeat customers by enabling loyalty programs when they use your app. This can be anything including a special discount or a priority booking.
- Increase brand awareness of your restaurant via your dedicated reservation app.
- Personalize customer experience by suggesting meals they are likely to order.
How does a reservation app benefit guests in a restaurant?
- A customer looking for food does not have to call up the restaurant to book a table. He can make a reservation over the app and get a confirmation via email or SMS.
- No more waiting for tables to get empty or wasting time in deciding which meal to order.
- Take a look at the menu and services anytime you want.
- Read reviews prior to visiting the restaurant in person.
Important Features of Restaurant Reservation App
Whatever you choose, every restaurant reservation app must have a certain set of features – one for the guest and one for the admin. Let us discuss them.
Set of features for guests
- Sign up form for registration via email, phone number or any social media channel
- Search filters by type of food, seating, time required, location, suggestion, reviews, rating, etc
- GPS navigation to drive guest to the right location
- Details about bookings being open or closed
- Menu with detailed information about ingredients and pricing
- Seating plan to reserve the table of choice
- Secure payment gateway to enable prepaid orders
- Guest profiles to view booking history and easily access recent orders
- Booking confirmation via email and SMS
- Room for reviews directly on the platform or via social media
- Reward programs or point-systems to attract regular guests
- Push notifications about the latest offers and additions
- Help section to resolve common issues and answer frequently asked questions
Set of features for restaurant owner
- Seating plan in the form of a chart for easy table management
- Ability to view bookings and open tables
- Calendar to schedule bookings, manage waitlists, and display open hours
- Search filters by number of guests, booking time and table selected
- Feature to track payment methods and all monetary transactions
- Messaging to confirm or cancel bookings via email and SMS
- Feature to combine tables and optimize seating plans
- Reservation history and guest information to suggest cuisines based on previous orders
- Customizability of menu, images, pricing, and other crucial details
- Point of Sale system to streamline the entire workflow
6 Stages of Developing a Restaurant Reservation App
You need professional help to develop a restaurant reservation app. The right talent must be hired to build an application that is highly functional.
If you are planning a dedicated app for your restaurant business anytime soon, you need to look for professional app development company who would brief you about the following 6 steps before finalizing the project.
The app developer would understand your business concept and make a blueprint of the same. Everything your app would have to function to perfection should be in this blueprint.
The concept and blueprint will be thoroughly analyzed using the SWOT approach to check the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the same. This will be followed by an analysis of the cost that would be incurred in terms of money, time and branding.
A rough design will be prepared for your approval. This will detail all the features your app will have. Remember, this is still a theoretical phase where everything you approve will shape the way your app looks and works.
After all the planning, app development will go to execution. Professional developers will start coding the app.
Before being release out in the open, your mobile app will be tested for bugs. Only the beta version will be distributed among select people to test the functionality and security of the application.
Once everything gets a green signal, your restaurant reservation app will be ready for launch. Depending on the platform you choose (Android or iOS), you would need to seek permission from Google Play Store or Apple Store to get your app started.
As an additional step, you can market the newly launched app on social media and other platforms to increase brand awareness.
Cost of Developing a Restaurant Reservation App
The cost of building a restaurant reservation app largely depends on the features warranted. It is nearly impossible to pre-calculate the exact amount.
This is because each restaurant has its own set up, menu, and other unique aspects. Less the complexity, quicker is the development and lower the price.
The cheapest applications are the simplest. They have basic functionality where a guest can make a reservation and the owner can confirm the same. Third-party APIs integration isn’t possible and the apps lack backend infrastructure.
Such applications can also be developed with mid range budgets where custom features can be integrated. These apps support third-party API integration such as payment methods. Further, they also come with backend infrastructure which is simple.
A reservation app of top quality is usually highly complicated and pricey. It comes with advanced features. Third-party integration is supported and the backend is comparatively complex. Such apps additionally enable scalable real-time synchronization, which helps in priority-driven scheduling and cancellation of bookings.
Let technology benefit your restaurant business. Modern customers are more inclined toward on-demand service. For this reason, getting a dedicated app for restaurant reservation makes a lot of sense.
However, make sure you choose professional app developers who are not only experts in their line of work but also experienced in building such apps.