Deposits to avoid silly season no-shows

ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012

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Wellington restaurants have started requesting deposits at the time of booking to safeguard business over the silly season, with one restaurateur describing patrons' relaxed attitude to dining reservations "disgraceful".

Monsoon Poon owner and Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan said some members had raised concerns that group bookings were falling through with very late or no notice.

"Some groups will book three restaurants and then decide on the day which one they want.

"It's quite disappointing for restaurants, because if [patrons] cancel on the day or don't show up, that's a huge loss."

Requesting a deposit was one safeguard against no-shows, and Mr Egan said he knew of some venues introducing the policy just for the festive season, when bookings of large groups were common.

He said the policy was common overseas, and the typically Kiwi "she'll be right" attitude sometimes cost restaurateurs.

Michelle Swanson, of the Cobar Restaurant in Eastbourne, said the restaurant charged $10 a head as a deposit for groups of more than 10.

"You get the odd person who has an issue with it, but people generally understand."

She said, even with the deposit system, big groups sometimes failed to turn up.

"We call them up to ask them if they're running late, or what's the story, and they're like, ‘My bad'.

"It's a real kick in the face when you've turned away so many other people. It's a shame that we have to do this but people don't honour their word now."

Steve Logan, of Logan Brown, said asking for a deposit of about 15 per cent for groups of eight or more had been the restaurant's standard practice for several years.

"We learnt many years ago that if we ask for a small deposit, we're going to get commitment from people."

He was not surprised that other restaurants were adopting the policy. "They've probably been burnt in the past."

White House Restaurant chef and owner Paul Hoather said the restaurant required a deposit of 5 per cent. "It's a small deposit but it just makes them commit."

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- The Dominion Post

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