How to maximise bookings with limits and waitlists

Autopilot in Marketing automation on 21 st of May 2020
person using autopilot on mobile device, next to a beer

No one books one seat at the pub

Restrictions on the number of patrons at restaurants and bars has resulted in thousands of Australians signing up to online waitlists. This is both an opportunity and a challenge to match demand and supply and communicate between the two. As this engaged audience ‘digitally queues’ for a booking, the goal is to maximise the number of patrons across the day and the week, and to automatically notify your patrons when space opens up based on their preferred time/date. Plus, every new contact represents multiple new patrons, as no one books one seat at the pub.

Autopilot’s shout - first month is on us

Autopilot is email automation software that can be tailored for exactly this journey. Your waitlist is demand that is waiting to be served. It represents patrons to welcome back or that will discover your venue for the first time, and it's good to know which is which. As this recovery builds, the opportunity now is to nurture your contact list such that a patron's next visit can be planned, predicted and serviced, building a rhythm of bookings that always fills your available capacity.

Learn more below... including our one month free shout for Aussie Pubs and Restaurants.

Make the waitlist work for your business

On May 8th the Australian government announced a three stage transition plan aimed at gradually easing the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Under stage one, cafes, pubs and restaurants have been allowed to reopen - albeit with certain restrictions. In New South Wales, for instance, there is a limit of 10 patrons per venue, with social distancing measures still to be adhered to. From June 1st, that will expand to 50 patrons per venue.

Shortly after the announcement was made, pubs and restaurants were immediately flooded with enquiries for bookings. One Bondi pub in Sydney’s east reported booking out every sitting in the first weekend in less than ten minutes, before adding over 4,000 people to a waitlist, with more enquiries being received every day.

How to use multi-channel marketing to leverage the opportunity

In the last few weeks we’ve been working with our customers on different strategies to take full advantage of this opportunity. We’re seeing great returns already for venues that are leveraging the engaged audience. They’re sending waitlist contacts on multi-channel journeys that serve unique offers and updates, and target them not only through email, but also through SMS and on social channels.

Based on those strategies, we’ve put together this template (as well as a walk through video) to help venues manage a waitlist audience, and keep their venue top of mind:

Why the waitlist data is so valuable

With so many potential patrons happy to ‘digitally queue’ on a waitlist, they’re providing venues with their details and opting in to receive email and other communications. These details represent a valuable mix of existing customer data (customers who have now provided their contact details), as well as new visitor data.

Pubs and restaurants then use this data to keep their venue top of mind with everyone on that list. That communication isn’t limited to updates regarding pending bookings. Venues can serve targeted content that promotes their online offerings such as takeaway cocktails and food, as well as running special promotions such as discounted food and drink vouchers.

Autopilot's shout!

If you’re managing a bar or restaurant and want to implement this strategy with Autopilot, try it free for one month. If you have any questions you can reach out to our specialist team today by emailing

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