Setting availability for your restaurant can be quite a puzzle. You want to offer different types of reservations, but exactly as it is most profitable or best for you to manage. Formitable offers you maximum flexibility for this. To avoid mistakes, you are guided step by step through the settings and you work in a clear interface.
Before you get started
Setting shifts is like doing odd jobs. Do not start if you are in a hurry or not zen 😇. The result of a nice configuration is quite satisfactory, but it requires attention and tranquility. And as with all new things, it takes some practice to master all the features at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can get the most out of your tables and opening times.
Create new shift
- Go to Shifts
- Click on the blue + icon at the top right of the screen
Step 1: Ticket
- Select the ticket you want to set up here.
Have you not yet created the correct ticket? Then click on the gray + icon at the top left and follow the steps to add at tickets.
- Click Next to proceed to the next steps
Step 2: 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 10 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).
- Set the days and exceptions under Repeat. By default, this is set to Never. This means that your ticket is a one-time event. For example, if you want to offer the summer menu all days of the week except Monday, select Weekly and click on the buttons T (uesday), W (wednesday) and so on.
- Set an end date at End. By default it is set to Never. This means that the ticket 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
💡Scheduling days in Formitable works with the iCal, a standard format used by all online calendars. The various iCal settings give you maximum flexibility when scheduling your tickets. For example, you can easily organize an event every first Sunday of the month.
Step 3: Seating
- At Partysize, choose the minimum and maximum number of guests for which you want to make this ticket available.
❗The number of guests is determined by your tables an tafel combinations. For example, do you want to offer a group menu of 6 to 14 guests, but at Maximum party size you cannot exceed 10? Then check your table plan settings and make larger table combinations possible.
- 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 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 (image on the right).
💡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.
💡To avoid discussions with guests, we advise you to kindly inform guests once more about the end time of their reservation upon entering.
- 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 Squeeze gap you build in slack, just like with Reservation gap, so that things do not 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 from the system 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 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 neighborhoods. But for example, if you offer a chef's table, or if you want to take reservations on your terrace, choose Select specific area to link a ticket to a neighborhood. What also often occurs is that you want to exclude a certain neighborhood, for example a private dining. Then select all neighborhoods except your private dining.
- Activate Show area name if you want to inform guests about the area where they will be located.
💡Like 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 a neighborhood and click on the ✏️ icon at the top left to edit the name. For example, you can call a district internal District 4, while guests can see Terrace. If you activate Show area name, make sure your Display name is correct.
Stap 5: Booking window
The system 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.
Stap 6: Advanced
- Private Shift. When this is on, this shift is not visible in your widget. Guests can only book if they have the direct link to this ticket. This way you can organize an exclusive event and decide who you invite for this by sending guests the direct link.