Taking control of your online reservations can feel like a big step. Especially if your restaurant is bookable through a consumer platform. Robbert Veuger (co-owner Aan de Poel**, Amstelveen) agrees. ‘We were worried that leaving our platform would lead to a decrease in online reservations.’ Apart from that, he wasn’t keen on moving to another online reservation system, as a previous switch went completely south. Until a fire destroyed his restaurant.
Huge bill every month
More than half of Aan de Poel’s reservations were booked through a consumer platform, says Veuger. ‘It worked, but our monthly bill was sky high.’ To reduce the costs, he decided to switch to an independent online reservation system. ‘A complete nightmare. On a Saturday night, five groups arrived unexpectedly, as they had not been transferred to our new system.’ With no better alternative at hand, Aan de Poel returned to their consumer platform. They were back to square one.
Reflection after the fire
It took two years for the solution to arrive, when Aan de Poel had to close for two months, due to a fire. Veuger: ‘Being closed gave us some time to reflect, without the obligation to serve guests. Our assistant manager showed us why the bill for our online reservations was so high: if you would search for ‘Aan de Poel’ on Google, search results didn’t show our own website at the top of the list. Instead, they showed our restaurant listing on our consumer platform, taking advantage of our restaurant name for their own advertising. No wonder we got so many reservations through this channel, while paying outrageous commissions.’
Trust your own reputation
The assistant manager made another great case, Veuger continues. ‘He convinced us of the fact that we didn’t get those reservations because of that consumer platform, but simply because we are an outstanding restaurant. In fact, we were paying them commissions for guests who would have reserved at our restaurant anyway. After all, there is a reason people search for our restaurant.’ Leaving the platform seemed like the right thing to do, but it was still a big step. Veuger: ‘Would we lose a number of online reservations? Would it turn into another disaster? But being closed gave us the courage to try again.’
This time it all went super smooth. Veuger looks back relieved. ‘All our worries turned out to be completely unfounded: the system was live within a day and all our past and future reservations were transferred flawlessly. We even have the same amount of online reservations as before. In the end it was easy as pie.’ And what about the bill? Veuger starts laughing. ‘What a joke. Our monthly costs are no higher than ten percent of the amount we used to pay. If I had known this before, we would have switched years ago.’