Pay to reserve a better table at the restaurant

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Pay-to-book ;serve a better table at the restaurant

Reservation prices may vary from $5 to over $100.

As the restaurant industry continues to suffer from the pandemic, Toronto-based start-up Tablz is offering restaurateurs an additional source of income by offering their customers the ability to choose their table in advance through an online booking platform.

The platform allows consumers who sign up to take 3D tours of a restaurant's dining room and pay anywhere from $5 to over $100 extra for the seats of their choice during peak hours . According to the company, this strategy allows restaurants to increase revenue, without additional labor costs.

President and CEO Stef Scrivens compares the Tablz concept to that of airlines that set their prices according to the location of seats on the plane.

In catering, she says, there are several factors that explain the price difference for reserving a table, the city, the neighborhood, but also the time of the week.

Stef Scrivens admits that not all customers can afford to pay extra to reserve a spot. That's why only 15 to 20 percent of tables are dedicated to premium reservations at participating restaurants, she says. It's just for consumers who want to have an experience and be sure to have the table of their choice. Other customers can continue to come without being forced to pay.

The Madrina Bar y Tapas restaurant, located in the Distillery district in Toronto, offers its customers this possibility to reserve the table of their choice, because it allows to personalize the experience, assures the restaurant manager, Ramon Simarro.

The restaurateur also believes that this trend will become popular, as it already exists elsewhere, particularly in the hotel industry.

Ramon Simarro emphasizes that reservations in his restaurants cost around $10, an affordable price, he says, considering going to a restaurant is an experience, like going to the theater, a concert or a sporting event.

He adds that customers who are willing to pay for the table of their choice are also willing to pay more for the dishes or for a better wine.

For his part, the owner of the Batifole restaurant in Toronto, Pascal Geffroy, is surprised by this concept which, according to him, establishes a differentiation among customers.

He deplores the idea of Tablz which brings a kind of discrimination between those who have money and those who have less, while for him the restoration is first and foremost a moment of sharing.

“My restaurant is open to everyone, rich and not so rich. »

—  Pascal Geffroy, owner of the restaurant Batifole

While he agrees that restaurateurs must trade, he nevertheless believes that there is an ethics above all, and that we must treat all customers the same.

These are values ​​that I uphold, he says with conviction.

I&#x27 I have customers who have been coming for years. I could not see myself forcing them to pay more, just because they want a particular table, he continues.

For his part, Frédéric Dimanche, director of the Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Metropolitan University of Toronto, believes that this strategy has the double merit of generating additional income for the restaurateurs who need it, and of offering the opportunity to customers to reserve the space and the table of their choice.

Me, I think it's quite normal insofar as there is an additional service that is provided, there is an opportunity to choose in advance, an opportunity to book, he says, specifying that it can also help restaurants manage booking flows which are not always easy.

Frédéric Dimanche admits, however, that there are still many unanswered questions. According to him, it will take time to change the mentality of restaurateurs and consumers. It's a novelty, we will have to see how they will appropriate this tool, how they will use it and above all how they will accept it.

The risk, he warns, is having unhappy customers not being able to sit at the best table without paying extra.

In Canada, the Tablz company already exists in Ottawa, and also serves the United States, in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

With information from Yanick Lepage and Rozenn Nicolle

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