Want to create the next big restaurant table booking app but not sure where to start? Here we will share our experience and will answer the question: How to develop a restaurant reservation app that everyone wants to use.
If you wanted to book a table at a restaurant in the past, you either had to pick up the phone or drop it into your restaurant of choice to make a reservation.
This came with a couple of problems. Firstly, you had to call or visit when the restaurant was open. Secondly, if the staff didn’t take your details down correctly, there was a risk that you’d rock up and your table wouldn’t be available.
Restaurant reservation apps have made the process a lot simpler. You open the app, choose your date and time, and pop in your contact details – the job is done.
So, if you’re a developer wanting to enter the world of restaurant reservations, what do you need to do to get ahead? Here is our guide to making a table booking app that both customers and restaurants are interested in.
Why ‘reserve a table’ apps are in demand right now
After the pandemic and lockdown, we’re all keen to get back into our favorite restaurants and catch up with family and friends. Seated restaurant dining levels are now back to where they were pre-pandemic, and are set to increase over the year.
Reserve table apps make it easy for people to make a reservation at a time convenient to them. There’s no more having to wait for a restaurant to open or wait on the phone because the staff is with other customers. If customers need to amend or cancel their booking, they just open the app and make the changes.
Restaurant reservation apps make life easier for business owners too. As the customer enters their details into the app themselves, there’s no scope for error. All table bookings are aggregated into one place, so there’s no risk of customers being forgotten about.
Restaurant staff turnover rates took a hit during the pandemic. In the US alone, nearly 275,000 people in the hospitality industry quit their jobs in November 2021. Table booking systems mean restaurant owners can still take reservations and manage them to ensure there is enough staff to provide a high-quality service for diners.
Finally, the data these apps offer can help provide valuable insight into the restaurant. For example, if a business owner sees that bookings are low during the week, they can create special offers to entice customers to come and eat.
As you can see, reserve table apps lead to not only happy customers but happy business owners too!
Want to look at the other side of the restaurant business?
The most popular restaurant table booking apps in the world right now
There are currently a couple of heavy hitters in the world of restaurant booking apps. You may have heard of some of these names before and even booked tables through them.
- OpenTable. The most prominent app currently on the market, it’s estimated that it has about 60% of the market share, with over 16 million reservations a month;
- ResDiary. Full of unique features, ResDiary offers an affiliate partner network that lets restaurants drive bookings through the partners of their choice;
- Quandoo. As well to table booking functionality, Quandoo’s USP is that it offers SEO and social advertising support, to help restaurants amplify their reach;
- Resy. Originally created to take on OpenTable, Resy was acquired by American Express in 2019;
- Eat App. Eat App works in partnership with Google and TripAdvisor, giving restaurants extra ways to promote themselves to a digital audience;
- Tablein. Tablein is marketed as a dinner reservation app for small businesses
Some businesses developed their own restaurant reservation apps. For example, Pizza Hut and Olive Garden have their own bespoke apps where customers can find their nearest restaurant and make a booking. Still, you should understand clearly how the startup valuation is built and what to do with it. Check this out here.
Features to include during developing a restaurant reservation app
The features you offer to your customers can make or break your restaurant reservation app. This means it’s essential to plan what you need to include before you start writing the code.
Here are some suggestions of things to include – remember that this list isn’t exhaustive.
- Online payment system. You may think a payment system isn’t needed for your restaurant reservation app. After all, you’re just holding the reservations for the restaurant, right? However, having a payment system in place could be advantageous. For example, some restaurants ask customers for a deposit at busy times like Christmas or if the customer is a no-show. By taking the deposit on behalf of the restaurant, you’re helping them save a lot of time chasing customers;
- The option to manage a restaurant reservation. It may be the case that a customer needs to amend a booking once it’s been made; for instance, they need to change the time or invite more people. Giving them an easy option to do this, while sending an update to the restaurant to keep them in the loop, could be a game-changer;
- Find and explore. Sometimes customers may not have a particular restaurant in mind. They may be in a new city and need some suggestions, or are just open to trying something new in their hometown. Letting customers find places to eat near them will give you a great selling point as well as the opportunity to offer advertising space – more on that later;
- Customer reviews. Social proof is vital in the hospitality world. Over three out of four people prefer to read reviews written by a peer than those from a critic. You can use this to your advantage by letting customers share ratings and reviews for restaurants they have eaten at;
- Real-time tables. Sometimes we walk past a specific restaurant and decide we want a reservation there and then. If you choose to provide real-time functionality, you can let customers know how long they will have to wait for a table. You can even send them an alert when their table is ready, like restaurants used to do with vibrating pagers back in the day!
- Statistics. As we mentioned earlier in the article, reserve table apps can provide data that can help restaurants improve their operations. Examples of analytics you can offer include average wait time, number of reservations/cancellations, and server utilization;
- Integration with other technologies. The best apps don’t operate in a silo. Integrations will help open your app up and provide additional functionality to restaurants. For example, you could consider integration with payment systems, point-of-sale systems, and social media platforms. You can even look at integration with other booking partners, offering extra reach for prospective clients.
Wanna launch your own app?
Lean methodology, MVPs, and development of restaurant reservation apps
When you create your restaurant table booking app, you want to launch it as soon as possible. That way, you can get ahead of the competition and start building up a loyal fanbase. This is where lean startup methodology can help.
One way you can reduce the time it takes to get to market is by using a minimum viable product, or MVP. An MVP is a basic version of your app which you can get to market quickly, and add features to over time.
45% of all software features on apps are never used by customers – so think about the functionality you want to implement in your app and sort out the ‘must haves’ from the ‘nice to haves’. For example, if you’re launching your reservation app in the UK, do you really need foreign language support and currency conversion?
You can save up to 40% of your budget and 25% of your time with an MVP in place, so it’s definitely worth considering when creating your table booking system.
Make sure your table booking app is user friendly
As with any mobile apps you develop, it’s crucial that your table booking app not only looks great but works well too.
According to Google, bad optimization annoys over half of mobile users. This can lead to prospective customers abandoning their efforts and, in the worst-case scenario, booking a table with another restaurant.
Carry out detailed research with prospective customers to see what they want and what they don’t want from your app. Wireframes are a great way of planning your app and seeing where the customer journey takes you.
Before you launch, make sure you conduct thorough testing to ensure you can carry out in-app tasks quickly and efficiently.
How much will it cost to develop a restaurant reservation app?
It depends on the size and complexity of your diner reservation app. The more features you have, the larger the cost will be.
The main cost will be development. If you’re a mobile app developer, you can take on a lot of this work yourself, otherwise, you will need to hire app developers and app designers to build it for you.
The cost to develop and test a basic app will be in the region of $10,000 to $2,5000. If you want to create something more complex, you can pay upwards of $40,000.
With an MVP, you can focus on the most important features, helping save money until you have more cash to invest.
Table booking systems and monetization
Think of the development cost of the restaurant reservation app in terms of return on investment. Spending money upfront on an easy-to-use, customer-friendly mobile app won’t be so bad if you know you will get that money back after you launch.
Your monetization model and the fees you charge can mean you see a profit sooner. Most restaurant booking system apps charge restaurants a flat fee or a charge per reservation made. As an example, Tablein charges $80 a month for up to 150 reservations, while OpenTable charges $2.50 per reservation.
A lot of apps offer a tiered system when it comes to pricing, meaning all restaurants can take advantage, from the largest chains to the smallest food joints.
You may choose to offer additional extras to increase your revenue. For example, you can charge restaurants an additional fee to be promoted ahead of other venues or to be featured in email roundups that are sent to customers.
Marketing is important when creating a dinner reservation app
As many restaurants are partnering up with apps, you need to convince them of the benefits your table reservation system can offer.
Salespeople who can speak to prospective clients and encourage them to come on board with you are a must, as well as an effective digital marketing campaign. Show restaurants the benefits of signing up with your new restaurant reservation app and how you can boost their profits.
In summary: A restaurant reservation app should be the order of the day!
Nearly half of people prefer to book a table at a restaurant online. This means that the restaurant reservation app market is a great one to get into.
As there are quite a few options currently on the market, it’s important to do your research. What will your reserve a table app offer that your competitors can’t?
Plan ahead, and you’ll develop a restaurant reservation app that will top the download charts.
Want to develop a restaurant reservation app that everyone wants to use? Contact You are launched today.
We’ve been working with app developers since 2014, helping them get their apps to market and ensuring they get the funding they deserve.
Our team of experts lives and breathes lean methodology. This means we’re well placed to make sure your table booking system app gets to market as soon as possible and gives you the edge over your competitors.
Contact us today if you want to learn more about how we can help you develop a restaurant reservation app that businesses and customers want to download.