New pre-ordering systems for groups of customers using casual dining brands are driving an uplift in sales, figures from reservations platform Bookatable show.

The partnership with EasyPreOrders enabled four brands—Busaba Eathai, TGI Friday’s, Belgo and Las Iguanas—to take pre-booking orders from groups in the run-up to Christmas, and Bookatable says they saw an increase in covers of 44% compared to the same period in 2014. At Las Iguanas’ Royal Festival Hall branch, nearly nine in ten groups of eight or more people pre-ordered via the service.

Bookatable’s alliance with EasyPreorders has been in testing mode so far, but will be rolled out more widely as the year goes on. Bookatable says it makes life much easier for operators and consumers alike, and EasyPreOrders claims it saves restaurants an average of two hours of admin time on group bookings, as well as improving table turn and reducing food waste.

CGA Peach data suggests pre-ordering remains relatively rare, with only 3% of consumers who visit brands’ websites doing so to pre-order—but as new technology like this becomes available, the figure is sure to increase. There is already substantial interest in operators’ websites, with 53% of the adult population checking them before paying a visit to restaurants and bars in the last six months.

Gemma Holmes, brand communications coordinator at Las Iguanas, said: “We found the EasyPreOrders technology really easy to use and it was a great benefit to our business, particularly in the run up to the festive season when we experience a huge increase in group bookings which can be challenging to manage for the kitchens and front of house staff.”  

Bookatable chief executive Joe Steele said: “The thing that is abundantly clear from our trial of this technology is how much the group booking system benefits the restaurant but also the overall guest experience too, by making the process of organising and ordering for a group simple and smooth. Given the positive news following our trial, we will be rolling this technology out to several hundred of our restaurant partners this year.”

EasyPreOrders chief executive Mark Roberts said: “With people now leading increasingly hectic lives, making the process of pre-ordering as simple as possible is key and the main priority of our business. It’s great to see the results of this trial with Bookatable which has revolutionised the group bookings process for those taking part. We have had really positive feedback since introducing the new booking system from both restaurant partners and diners alike.” 


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