Customers booking tables and then not turning up is costing the hospitality industry an estimated £17.6b a year, according to research from Zonal and CGA.
A survey of 5,000 British consumers found that since the sector reopened, one in seven people have not honoured a reservation and one in eight said they are more likely to 'no-show' than before the pandemic.
The issue has led to industry bodies including UKHospitality joining together to launch the #Showupforhospitality campaign to highlight the issue and educate consumers on its impact on businesses.
The Zonal and CGA research found that since hospitality reopened a quarter (28%) of 18-34-year-olds have not met their bookings, compared to just 1% of those aged 55 or over.
However, this is skewed by the fact the younger generation make more frequent bookings. Nearly 73% of 18-34-year-olds have made a reservation since April, compared to 52% of people aged over 65.
Earlier this year a number of restaurants began taking upfront payment for meals amid uncertainty around reopening.
The study found over half of consumers (55%) would be willing to pay a no-show fee if they didn't turn up while 51% said they would be happy to pay a deposit to secure a booking. Some 36% said they would be more likely to show up if the venue reminded them by phone, SMS, email or app.
"The knock-on effects caused by no shows are considerable," said Olivia Fitzgerald, chief sales and marketing officer at Zonal. "Staffing and stock levels are left seriously compromised in addition to the lost revenue for a table that could've been taken up by other willing guests, and all this comes with a significant cost to hospitality businesses."
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: "No-shows have been a blight on the industry for many, many years, but with tens of thousands of hospitality businesses in such a fragile state following prolonged periods of closure and heavily-restricted trading, they are currently deeply damaging to venues.
"Our pubs, bars and restaurants deserve our support and it's encouraging that this research shows there is a growing realisation among customers of the need to honour their booking or let the venue know they can't make it. But it also highlights the fact that no shows still happen far too often, with younger customers particularly responsible, and that really can't go on. We need a revitalised relationship between venues and their customers."
To find out more about the campaign or to get involved visit www.showupforhospitality.org.