Online reservation systems help restaurant owners manage both online and offline reservations. These types of platforms usually offer a variety of features, including reservation management, staff management, waitlist, online ordering, reporting, deposits, event management, and so on. An online reservation system simplifies the process of keeping track of reservations, saving restaurants huge amounts of time and optimizing efficiency.
As you would expect, different platforms offer different features. The platforms we list here offer a full array of functionality and are mainly focused on reservation management. Keep in mind that there are also providers that offer a single feature and are completely focused on it – so if you only need waitlist management, for example, you might search for an alternative that completely focuses on waitlist features.
For reservation management, there is a long list of providers on the market, but only a handful stand out as being the most versatile and most popular, and these have the largest number of users. As such, they are considered the most reliable solutions that restaurant owners can rely on.
With so many options to choose from, how do you select the platform that will be best for your business? There are a few key points to consider when looking for the right platform for your business:
Features - The platform needs to offer the list of features you actually need and the possibility to turn off (or hide) the ones that you are not using.
Price - Needless to say, this is a very important factor to consider, especially because you might find that some providers are much more expensive than other more affordable providers. Just because a platform is more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality is any better or that it offers more functionalities. Sometimes it’s even quite the opposite.
Ease of use - When you move from pen and paper to a reservation management system, you need to keep in mind that it will be used by your entire staff, and not all of them are tech savvy. That’s why you need to make sure the new system is user friendly and intuitive enough that everyone can easily learn how to operate it. An important fact to check is whether the provider offers training sessions to your staff so that the burden does not fall on you.
The 5 most popular restaurant reservation systems today are the ones listed below. Check out what each of them has to offer, their pros and cons, and decide for yourself which one you want to try out:
Hostme’s app is a highly intuitive and customizable software that provides several functionalities to restaurant owners including table, reservation, and waitlist management, a digital guestbook, event management, deposit and cancellation fee collection, and more. It can be used on an unlimited number of devices and is compatible with both iOS and Android systems. You can access your Hostme account from the app or browser from any location by using your computer, iPad, tablet, or phone. The system is currently available in several languages and has no limit to the number of users that manage the account.
Hostme offers three different flat pricing plans, with no hidden costs. All Hostme plans allow a two-week trial for free, with no credit card required. The plans are:
$59 per month - Piccolo: Includes the essential features for restaurants, for up to 300 parties per month
$109 per month - Mezzo: A more comprehensive option that offers practically unlimited features and is the most popular plan
$169 per month - Grande: For restaurants that need integration with their POS system, custom branding, and full customization
Trial: A two-week free trial is available on the Mezzo plan by default (and on Grande per request)
Flat rates with no hidden costs with a full suite of features, including responsive tech support (under 15 minutes average response time)
Customer input is valued and results in new features being implemented
2-way sms communication with customers, both automated and manual
Full guest history about their visits
Ease of use
Clear overview of current status
Collect guest feedback after their visit
Choice of four views: floor plan, reservation list, grid view, or timeline
Multiple filters to show reservations, no-shows, late arrivals, or finished bookings
Cover pacing feature to manage volume at the restaurant
Requires a bit of tech support for initial setup; however, there is excellent team support and training included during the onboarding process. Support is available 24/7 in case of technical difficulties.
Lack of marketing tools to promote restaurants.
Hostme is a great platform and a perfect choice for restaurants that want to manage their reservations smoothly with no chance of becoming overbooked. It is one of the best solutions currently available on the market.
EatApp allows customers to make online reservations and is very well established in Europe and the Middle East. The software has integrations with Google and TripAdvisor and provides good functionality for table booking, analytics, editing tools, and so on.
Time slot based discounts
Social media integration
Table management and waitlist management
EatApp is an official Google and TripAdvisor partner
Ability to accept reservation deposits or charge for event tickets
You will need to pay an additional monthly fee if you want a plan with POS integration
US customers have trouble getting on-time support assistance
SMS and email confirmations are only free for the first 250 messages, after that, you will need to sign up for an additional subscription for phone integration
$49 per month - Starter: Up to 500 covers, table management, 100 SMS/mo included
$169 per month - Basic: For basic reservation, table management, and analytics features
$299 per month - Pro: Includes all Basic features and 1,000 guest confirmation texts per month
Enterprise: Custom quote to add customized guest communications via text, API access, data integration, and other features
Additional features can be added to the Basic and Pro packages, they respectively cost:
POS integration: $90 per month
Phone integration: $25 per month
Trial: 14-day trial available
Even though its ease of use might be attractive to restaurant owners, the fact that most of the additional features come at a separate cost – not only POS integration or phone integration but also the ability to accept pre-payments and reservation deposits – can become costly in the long run. Apart from this, the app offers a good set of features and is fairly user friendly.
Resy offers customizable features and a popular, though limited, restaurant network platform. It can also provide exclusive access to reservations, 2-way communication with customers, seating optimization, and different access levels to users.
Customization of reservation processes
Well-known reservation system
Automatic SMS confirmation
Integration with TripAdvisor and Airbnb
Expensive for the same functionality as more affordable solutions
Complicated to learn and use for the staff; requires additional costs for training sessions
Each additional feature comes at a cost (for instance, an extra $100 for event management)
$249 per month - Basic: For reservations, table management, waitlist, and support for pick-up and virtual events
$399 per month - Pro: Includes a dedicated success manager, onboarding support, third-party pre-payment options, and post-meal surveys
$899 per month - Enterprise: For restaurants that need unlimited features, custom reports, and API access
Additional “A la carte” features such as event management.
Trial: Not available
Resy is a popular reservation management platform. Restaurant owners and customers give positive reviews to the solution. However, the pricing might be a considerable downside and makes Resy more suitable for large chains that are less sensitive to the costs associated with it.
Tock is a reservation management system that stands out by offering a ticketing system to collect deposits and other prepayments. The solution is available not only for restaurants but also for other businesses like music venues and hotels.
Available for different types of businesses
Excellent at reducing no-shows
Available in online and offline mode
“Tock To Go”: With this new feature, customers can reserve, purchase, and pick up meals from restaurants that did not offer takeout food in the past
Fewer users compared to other apps
Primarily used by expensive fine-dining restaurants
Expensive compared to other providers
Prepaid fees and reservations make the pricing plans unpredictable and complicated
Free - Intro: This free monthly plan has a 3% prepaid fee
$199 per month - Plus: Features a 2% fee on prepaid reservations
$699 per month - Pro: Features no fee for prepaid reservations
Trial: 30-day free trial
Tock’s focus is definitely on fine-dining venues, and the software does offer a pretty decent set of features to its users. It can be a good solution for specific types of restaurants, but the cost may be prohibitive.
OpenTable serves the largest number of restaurants in the US and offers a large database of users and marketing options – that’s the company’s biggest advantage. However, most restaurants are now modernizing their marketing strategies. Maintaining a presence on such platforms is becoming obsolete and most of these providers now offer online reservations directly on Google, and the end users don’t have to visit such large reservation platforms anymore. OpenTable is available not only for restaurants but for other types of businesses as well, such as grocery stores.
Largest customer base in the US
Full set of features available: reservation management, table management, guestbook
Email marketing service available
Integration with all major POS systems
It is the most expensive solution on the market and has a complicated cost structure
In addition to regular monthly fees, there are fees per cover, so you never know what your bill will look like at the end of the month
Since this service is so heavily populated with businesses, if potential customers are browsing the site, they are less likely to find your restaurant
OpenTable dining points system builds customer loyalty towards OpenTable at the expense of its restaurant customers
$39 per month - Basic: Plus an additional $1.50/cover for in-network reservations and $0.25 for website reservations
$249 per month - Core: Plus an additional $1/cover for in-network reservations, including table management, in-house and online waitlists, and with POS integration
$449 per month - Pro: Plus an additional $1/cover for in-network reservations, including automation tools for email campaigns, guest profiles, and customer preferences
Trial: 30-day trial available for Basic plan
OpenTable was first in this market, and restaurants are staying primarily out of the fear of missing out on customers. That has kept this software as the top player in this industry. However, high and unpredictable costs, unresponsive tech support, and better alternatives are motivating restaurant owners to look for other options.
Any of these platforms will surely bring a huge benefit to any restaurant, especially if the change goes from pen and paper to one of the abovementioned platforms.
Whether your restaurant is a fine-dining establishment, a mom-and-pop restaurant, or a chain, you need to first determine the most important issues you need to tackle to improve your performance. I hope this overview might help you get a clearer picture of your needs so you can easily determine which restaurant management software would better suit your needs.
My advice is to always try to schedule a demo call with each one of them, try a few apps (if they offer a free trial) for a couple of days, then choose the one that offers all of the features you are looking for and will help you improve your efficiency.
by Mima Vujadinovic