Restaurant Reservations Optimization Tool

02nd Dec 2015

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NB: This is an article written By : Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) Cornell

Restaurant Reservations Optimization Tool

The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) has developed a new tool that allows restaurant owners to optimize their reservations and seating arrangements using Microsoft Excel. This tool, called the “Restaurant Reservations Optimization Tool,” is provided free of charge and can be obtained from CHR along with detailed instructions on how to use it.

How Does It Work?

The tool utilizes an Excel add-in called Solver, which enables restaurant operators to:

  1. Determine the best combination of table sizes for their establishment
  2. Decide which reservations to accept based on their demand forecast

To make these calculations, operators must input their estimated dining durations for each reservation. This is crucial information as it directly affects table availability and the ability to accept new reservations.

Why is Dining Duration Important?

According to Gary Thompson, the creator of this tool and a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, dining duration plays a significant role in both revenue generation and customer service levels. Here’s why:

  • Revenue: By accurately estimating dining times, restaurants can maximize their seating capacity and serve more guests throughout the day.
  • Service Levels: Longer dining durations may lead to lower service levels as it could result in customers waiting longer for a table. On the other hand, shorter dining durations may increase revenue but could leave guests feeling rushed.

Understanding the Tool

The instruction document provided with the tool offers a comprehensive overview of its features and functionalities. It includes:

  1. Detailed explanations of each component within the tool
  2. Step-by-step instructions on how to input data and interpret results
  3. A practical example showcasing table mix optimization for two evenings
  4. Insights into the underlying optimization model used by the tool

Please note that due to limitations in the basic version of Solver, Thompson has configured the tool for four table sizes and eight reservation time slots in his examples. However, he mentions that this can be expanded by upgrading Solver’s capabilities, as explained in the tool instructions.

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