restaurant queue management

Queuing may well be somewhat of an art form for Brits. We see a queue, we join it – and where there isn’t one, we start it. But when a queue takes longer than expected, the novelty quickly wears off and turns into frustration. 

And if you’re running a restaurant that loves getting busy but hates missing out on any potential diners, then knowing how to seat every single one of your walk-ins could be invaluable. What if you could offer your potential customers to join a virtual queue while spending their time waiting however they wanted – perhaps in a nearby bar or even at home if they live in the area? Enter restaurant queue management systems.

 

Why restaurant queuing is becoming more and more popular

The last few years have seen the rise of walk-in-only restaurants, recognisable by their long lines of hungry guests spinning around the corner. A tried and tested marketing strategy aiming to create demand by showcasing the current one – and amplifying it tenfolds. 

When walking in is the only way to secure a table, you can instantly make your restaurant look more exclusive – due to the sheer fact that it’s more challenging to get a table than simply booking it. Wouldn’t you, too, want to taste the flavours at an establishment that seems worthy to queue for?

Meanwhile, trends globally speak for themselves when it comes to restaurant queueing. In the US, the average wait before being seated at a restaurant is 23 minutes – with nearly a third of customers waiting more than 30 minutes for a table.

So it’s only natural that more and more restaurants in the UK, too, have embraced a walk-in (or even walk-in-only) system. A queue ensures little delay between vacated tables being retaken, meaning restaurants with walk-in seating can turn tables faster, boosting their sales and profits.

 

How millennials are shaping the dining experience

What might surprise you, however, is that choosing to queue has a lot more to do with the experience rather than the actual food waiting at the end. Young adults, for example, tend to favour experience over material things. For them, their dining experience starts a lot earlier than you might think – as soon as they make the booking. 

In fact, 77% of millennials say restaurant technology improves their dining experience, with two-fifths wanting “to be able to book a table via apps or social media.” So, if you can give them an enhanced queueing experience partnered up with the latest technology, you’ve got yourself a winner...and potentially a whole new, loyal customer base. 

However, this trend is not without its complications. It begs the question: how long is too long to queue? And if it’s cold, raining, and your customers are waiting in line behind ten other couples and two large groups of people, wouldn’t they be more likely to give up and drop off?

 

The psychology of queueing 

As much as all trends point towards queueing, as a whole people don’t really like waiting in line. Unless, of course, it comes with some caveats...

According to queue psychology studies, if there isn’t a clear indication of how long the wait will be, people perceive waiting periods to be 23% longer than they are. Research also suggests that “people respond more to the waiting experience than the actual length of the wait.” Meaning, it’s less about the time they queue and more about how they queue. 

With a restaurant queue system, you can set their expectations with accurate wait times, allowing them to have a drink somewhere nearby and enjoy themselves in the meantime. Even better, with effective restaurant queue management, this could translate into actual ratings on popular sites such as Tripadvisor. 

What’s more, people tend to perceive that time passes quicker when they are busy with an activity, either physical or mental. If they’ve had to spend twenty minutes with little else to do but standing in the queue, not only will it feel like they’ve waited double the time – but their negative thoughts will spill over into negative experiences and reactions. All of a sudden the excited, hungry diners you had on your hands at the start can turn into frustrated customers with a negative mindset from the get-go. 

 

Want to address all these demands in 20 minutes or less? The answer may be simpler than you think. Virtual queues

 

Meet WalkUp – the queue management system every restaurant should have

An easy solution that addresses all of the above pain points, an effective restaurant queue management system like WalkUp can help you make the most of walk-ins. And make waiting time feel like a breeze, too. In fact, a virtual queue management system can:

  • Allow customers have a more pleasant queueing experience  – so they’ll feel like they’ve waited less
  • Send them accurate wait times thanks to a supersmart algorithm – so you can set customer expectations from the start
  • It’s a piece of smart technology that hungry diners can access from an app or by scanning a QR code at the door – so millennials will love it too. 
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WalkUp seamlessly takes care of all of the above so that you don’t have to worry about it. Setting it up only takes around 20 minutes, but the time it will save you in the future in managing walk-ins? Priceless.

Your customers, from spontaneous diners to locals after their favourite meal, can join a virtual queue as long as they’re in the vicinity (up to 5km). So that they can join the queue even in the comforts of their home, while they are on their way, or as they grab a drink nearby. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a bar area to offer for people to wait at.

 

Why you don’t really need to have a queue to use WalkUp

While WalkUp is perfect for managing peak times and long queues, it’s just as good for quieter times – or unexpected cancellations. No-shows cost the hospitality industry around £16bn a year, with about 20% of restaurant reservations ending up unfulfilled every year. Adopting a restaurant queue management system will enable you to fix part of this problem and make up for the cancellations. 

For example, instead of turning down walk-ins due to a night packed full of bookings, you can add them all to a waitlist. That way, if some of your tables turn into no-shows, you can fill them up effortlessly. Click the button to notify the people on your waitlist – and if they aren’t available anymore, you can list your table to hungry diners in your area. 

With over 400,000 active users on the app, looking to discover and book a last-minute table around them, joining WalkUp does come with extra exposure. Meaning you don’t have to be super busy to reap the fruit of the app – simply let yourself (and all your free tables!) be discovered by locals or hungry passers-by. 

Queue psychology suggests ‘giving customers clear communication on the length of queueing times helps regulate’ their expectations and planning. Plus, as much as one-third of millennials ‘would like more accurate wait times for a table delivered to smartphones’. Thanks to an intelligent algorithm providing accurate wait times straight to your guests, you can be on top of that trend – and control your diners’ queueing anxiety along the way too. 

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Finally, if you do want to attract young adults – as mentioned above – a tech-led restaurant queue system is the way forward. Not only is WalkUp an app they can simply download and use with ease wherever they are, but it also plays up to younger generations’ preference for an experience-driven lifestyle. 

In a world where young adults value, above all, ‘authenticity, flexibility and individualisation’, you can offer them all three with an app that will take you around 20 minutes to set up for your business. Talking about effort versus reward…

Another common thread among the millennial market suggests that 53% of them rate a new experience as an important feature when choosing a place to eat. Looking for new customers curious to try your business for the first time? With WalkUp you can list your free tables on the app to be discoverable by passers-by (or locals) in the near vicinity so that you can reach new customers while barely trying! 

 

How can I sign up diners in the queue? 

With WalkUp, you can choose from three different ways to sit more diners at your restaurant: 

  • Base – simply use the system on the door and let your front of house manually add walk-ins to a virtual queue. All they need to ask for is the diner’s name and mobile number.
  • App – display your restaurant on the WalkUp app and get exposure to over 400,000 users. Diners can then join your queue remotely as long as they are near your restaurant (from up to 5km).
  • QR code – print and display a personalised QR code outside your restaurant. Diners can simply scan it and add themselves to your queue. Less workload for your staff and a queue that almost manages itself!
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How much does WalkUp cost? 

Behind our restaurant queue management system is a super-intelligent algorithm that provides diners with accurate wait times, and you – with invaluable data on your walk-ins. And without costing you the earth for the privilege. In fact, you can choose from different subscription services according to your needs, starting from a pay-as-you-go monthly option to 3- and 12-month contracts with special discounts. Plus, all plans include free support. 

 

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