Creating online availability for your restaurant can be quite a puzzle. You want to offer different types of experiences (reservations) in a way that is most profitable or best for you to manage. Formitable offers you maximum flexibility for this and we guide you step-by-step.
1. Create a new Shift
Go to Settings > Shifts
Click on the blue + icon at the top right of the screen
2. Select a Ticket
Select the Ticket for which you want to create online availability
Have you not yet created a Ticket? Then click on the gray + icon at the top left and follow the steps to add Tickets.
Click Next to proceed to the next steps
3. Time & Days
At Time, choose what time you want to take the first- and last reservation of the day.
❗These are not your opening hours, they are your reservation times. For example, the first reservation at 6 PM and the last at 9 PM. (While your restaurant might be open until, for example, 11 PM).
Select the first day that your Ticket must be available at Date. For example, a summer menu from the first day of summer (June 20). Or when it's a regular dinner Ticket, as of today.
Set the days that you want to make this Shift available under Repeat. There are 4 different options on how to repeat a Shift:
Never. This is the default setting. Choose this option when your Ticket is a one-time event.
Daily. Choose this option when your Ticket is available every day of the week at the above set times.
Weekly. Choose this option when, for example, you want to offer your High Tea only on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Select Weekly and click the buttons W (ednesday), T (hursday), and so on.
Monthly. Choose this option when, for example, you offer a live music session every last Friday of the month.
Set an end date at End. By default, it is set to Never. This means that the Shift has no end date. In the example of the summer menu, for example, choose On and enter the end of summer (September 22). You also have the option to automatically expire the Ticket after a number of times
At Partysize, choose the minimum and a maximum number of guests for which you want to make this ticket available.
❗The number of guests that you can set is determined by your Tables and Table Groups. For example, do you want to offer a group menu for 6 to 14 guests, but at Maximum party size, you cannot exceed 10? Then check your Table Settings and make larger Table Groups.
At Seating time, first set a standard reservation duration. Standard duration is the average time that guests spend in the restaurant (in other words, the time that the table is occupied). For example, if you offer a 4-course summer menu, guests will occupy the table for at least 120 minutes. If you also offer the same menu to large groups, it quickly becomes 150 or 180 minutes.
Give yourself and your guests some space. With a Reservation gap, you build in clearance between reservations. Often 15 minutes of play is enough to make reservations connect smoothly. For example, if a guest has made a reservation from 6 PM to 8 PM, the next reservation on that table can be made from 8:15 PM. This prevents accumulations if guests are not yet ready and the next one is already inside.
If you work with multiple Shifts in one evening, you can activate Always display end time. This works less well if you are available all night in blocks of 15 minutes (see image on the left). But if you work with an early and late Shift, for example, the end time works great to make it clear to guests in the early Shift that they don't have the table all night.
The end time is clearly shown behind the times in the Widget, in the Ticket, on the check-out page, in the booking confirmation, and in the reminder email.
Activate Squeeze if you want gaps in your schedule to be automatically filled by the system with shortened reservations. For example, if your normal reservation time is 120 minutes but you can also give guests a nice evening within 90 minutes (as long as they know that they only have 90 minutes), set your squeeze to 90 minutes. Like Always display end time, Squeeze shows the end time in different places
❗The lower you set the Squeeze time, the more powerful the function becomes. Especially on evenings that are already busy. Experiment with what you can handle and prevent your restaurant from being booked fuller than you can handle.
💡While guests see the end times in different places, you will recognize a shortened squeeze reservation directly from the ◀ ️ icon in the Table and List view.
Give yourself some time. With the Squeeze gap, you build in slack, just like with the Reservation gap, so that things will run smoothly when you squeezed reservations in succession.
If you work with an early and late Shift, you often want to fill in your gaps up to your late Shift. Use the function Squeeze to fixed end time for this. For example, guests can reserve between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM in the early Shift, but you want the table to be free at 8:00 PM. Then enter 20 hours at Squeeze to fixed end time. You will receive a notification that your reservations will be squeezed for a maximum of 60 minutes (namely from 7 pm to 8 pm).
For example, if you do not want to sell more than 10 lunch deals per day, or if 2 groups per evening are sufficient, you can set Seating limits. Seating limits limit the availability of one specific ticket, regardless of whether you have a place in the restaurant or not. When the Seating limits are reached, the ticket is no longer available to guests in the widget. You can set the Seating limits by the number of guests or number of reservations. A combination of these is also possible. For example, never again 10 lunch deals or 40 guests for the lunch deal. If one of the set limits is reached, the ticket for the set shift time (per day) is no longer available.
❗If you use Seating limits to keep control over the availability of specific tickets, also link tickets to the reservations you manually place in the system.
With Pacing limits you limit the number of guests who can reserve per time slot. You may want to exclude certain types of reservations from your Pacing limits. Examples are group reservations and events that start at a specific time. If you do not exclude these types of reservations (Ignore Pacing limits) from your normal Pacing limits, certain time slots can quickly reach their limit and you risk missing normal reservations. In short, activate Ignore pacing limits if you want to exclude specific Tickets from your normal pacing.
Step 4: Areas
By default, a Ticket can be booked on all active tables in all Areas. But for example, if you offer a chef's table, or if you want to take reservations on your outside dining, choose Select specific areas to link a Ticket to an Area. What also often occurs is that you want to exclude a certain neighborhood, for example, a private dining Area. Then select all Areas except your private dining.
Activate Show area name if you want to inform guests about the Area where they will be located.
💡As the end time, the Area Name is clearly shown behind the times in the Widget, in the Ticket, on the check-out page, in the booking confirmation, and in the reminder email.
❗You can adjust the Area name that guests see themselves. Go to Tables, click on an Area and click on the ✏️ icon at the top left to edit the name. For example, you can call an Area internal District 4, while guests can see Outside Dining. If you activate Show area name, make sure your Display name is correct.
Step 5: Booking window
Formitable makes it possible to reserve in real-time, up to 5 minutes in advance. This way, guests can also reserve a place with you last minute. You can set how many minutes in advance guests can book at the latest. For groups, we recommend setting this for example a few hours before the first guests arrive. This way you avoid a large group booking last minute. Read more about Booking Windows here.
Max. time in advance: Here you set how far guests can book with you in the future. By default, this is set at 1 year.
Min. time in advance: Here you set until when guests can book with you at the latest.
Step 6: Channels
Change the availability of shifts for each booking channel. The Channel Manager gives you full control over your availability for all booking partners. Read more about the Channel Manager here.