The health emergency caused by the coronavirus has put – and continues to put – the Italian restaurants and trattorias to the test. That's why the "no show" is likely to further aggravate their situation
In the technical jargon of restaurateurs he is called "No show", but we could easily explain it even with a more generic "don't go to the restaurant after making a reservation". A serious problem? Absolutely yes, because it causes a loss of earnings. A new problem? No, not at all, but that at the time ofsanitary emergency it risks becoming even more serious. And why it is easy to say: since the premises have been forced to reduce – often also drastically – the number of their seats to cope with new anti-coronavirus regulations, the damage of an empty table has now further amplified.
A matter of respect
«Reopening after the lockdown was a mixture of emotions, something halfway between the first day of school and the start of a new job Maybe I could have waited a little longer, waiting for the situation to return a little more to the normal, but turning the lights on again was an act of responsibility for me: towards my employees, whom I love very much, as well as towards my customers . smiles Isis De Cesare, the chef who with his restaurant The little word jealously guards a Michelin star in that of Trevinano, a hamlet of the municipality of Acquapendente set on the hills of Viterbo.
"Respect, as far as I'm concerned, is a basic word," continues the chef. "So yes, when someone happens to book and does not show up without notifying us, I inevitably feel very bad, because the moral damage is added to the economic damage. In the past it has often happened to me, I remember some evenings in which only half of the customers actually showed up: I sincerely hope that after all we have had to suffer as a collective due to the coronavirus there is more attention to others, more awareness. It is essential, especially for restaurants like mine, which are not located in the center of a large city, in a place of great passage, and therefore therefore work almost exclusively through reservations .
Between black lists and credit cards
In short, today the "no show" can prove to be particularly problematic for all those restaurants dedicated to haute cuisine who face management, personnel and raw materials costs. Its impact, however, must not be underestimated also with regard to the restaurants. To remind him, in this case, is Daniele Persegani, known face of the television program The cook's test, which in addition to managing with his sister Nicoletta theOsteria del Pescatore of Castelvetro Piacentino inaugurated the format in mid-February Gustincanto in Fidenza, in the province of Parma.
"Covid-19 took my father away quite suddenly, and this mourning was already very difficult for me and my family to process," says the chef. «To this, then, were added all the difficulties of continuing with the work. We had inaugurated Giustincanto only a few days before the emergency broke out, and therefore this new adventure, which includes a restaurant, but also an academy, an event space, a fitness center and many other services, started uphill. A very steep climb. At the same time, even the situation at the Osteria del Pescatore was not easy: our restaurant in Castelvetro is located on the Emilian side of the Po, but we work a lot with our customers from Lombardy, Cremona and Lodi in the first place. THE regional borders blocked until the beginning of June they obviously affected our work a lot, as I imagine many border activities between different regions have happened ".
Even after the go-ahead for the passage between regions, however, a large part of the problems remained. "To date, as far as the Osteria del Pescatore is concerned, we have practically had to halve the place settings to ensure the spacing between the tables. Before there were about 80, today they are just over 40 , continues Persegani. «For this reason, those who book and do not show up really risk causing great damage. Luckily we have a hard core of our very loyal clientele, but I would like to remind everyone else of a very simple thing: just advise. A phone call is enough to say that there has been a problem and that unfortunately we cannot get there. It can happen, we would miss it, but to warn is an indispensable form of respect.
Any ideas to prevent the dreaded no show? «At the moment we only ask for the name and telephone number, but I would also be absolutely in favor of asking for the number of the credit card, just like in hotels, "says the chef. «Of course, the perplexity of Italian customers should be overcome, but it would only be a protection against rudeness. A black list shared among restaurateurs? Why not, it could be an idea, with names and phone numbers. Protecting yourself has always been important, and today, after what we all went through, it is even more important. Although, of course, one always hopes not to have to go that far, and to be able to trust people .
Technology against the "no show"
The digital booking services can provide concrete help to restaurateurs in identifying the cunning of the bin. It is an example TheFork, the most popular restaurant and similar booking app, which for several years has been committed to supporting locals in this fight. So, for example, the customer who makes the reservation receives a confirmation message that reminds him to cancel the reservation in the house of unexpected events (and that allows him to do it in a few taps on the screen). At the same time, the system prevents the user from simultaneously booking multiple tables for the same service, and keeps track of past no shows: in case of customer accustomed to the no show, the restaurant owner is notified through the application management program.
"Online booking is a tool that can help counter this," he explains Almir Ambeskovic, European manager and board member of TheFork. «Thanks to TheFork Manager, the management that we provide to restaurants when they join our service, merchants can automatically send reminders to customers and benefit from one-click cancellation which greatly reduces the rate of missed visits. In addition, for haute cuisine we plan to introduce a credit card booking soon, recognized by top chefs as the most effective tool to limit no shows ". With a possible penalty for cancellations not communicated.