Preparing Your Restaurant for the Holidays

If you blinked you may have missed it! The year is winding down and the holidays are almost upon us. The next couple of months are sure to be a busy time for both restaurants and customers alike. It’s important to get your restaurant prepared now so that managing your reservations will be one less thing for you to worry about during the holiday rush.

Below are some tips to get Yelp Reservations set up for your restaurant ahead of the busy holiday season. To get started, log into your Yelp Reservations account on a desktop, and go to the Configure tab on the left-hand side.

Notify Customers of Your Holiday Hours

Pre-booking Notes

If there are specific dates you will be closed this holiday season, be sure to let your customers know using Pre-Booking Notes. To update your pre-booking notes, from the Configure tab, go to Reservations > Accept Online Reservations > Pre-booking Notes. Click “Edit,” enter your desired message into the textbox, and hit Save. This message will appear for any guest looking to book a reservation online. A simple “Please Note: We will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day this year. Happy holidays!” should suffice. Don’t forget to remove this note once the holidays are over.

Set Up Your Holiday Schedule

In addition to pre-booking notes, you can also prevent guests from selecting and booking a reservation on days your restaurant will be closed by deleting the scheduled sheets for those dates. From the Configure tab, click on Schedule at the top. On the calendar, navigate to the dates you will be closed using the arrows at the top. Click on the date(s), and click “Remove” next to all sheets scheduled on that date. Make sure to select “This Day Only,” and click “Remove Sheet” to confirm.

Plan for Special Holiday Events

If your restaurant will be open during the holidays, but you’ll be offering something different from your regular service, i.e., different hours or a special prix-fixe menu, you’ll need to create special holiday sheets. For more detailed instructions on how to create sheets, please check out this video.

From the Configure tab, go to Sheets > Create New Sheet, and name your sheet something recognizable like “Christmas Dinner.” You can adjust your first and last seating times for this particular holiday dinner, as well as your Advanced Sheet settings. Two key features under the Advanced Sheet settings that we suggest taking advantage of for the holidays are Credit Card Holds and Sheet Notes.

 

Credit Card Holds

If you wish to require your guests to enter in a credit card in order to book a reservation for a special holiday event, set up credit card holds. If you aren’t currently using this feature, to enable credit card holds, from the Configure tab, click on Advanced at the top. For “Enable Credit Card Holds for Reservations,” toggle the switch to “On” and you will see additional settings pop up. Click “Edit” to enter your cancellation policy in the text box, and hit “Save.” Pro Tip: Copy your cancellation policy now, so you won’t have to re-type it in a later step.

Enter the mailing address where you would like Yelp Reservations to send the check for any cancellation fees that you charge. If you prefer payment via wire transfer instead, please contact Yelp Reservations Support and we can provide you with the necessary documentation for credit card hold payouts.

If this is your first time enabling credit card holds and you only want this to apply for a special holiday event, make sure “Enable credit card holds for online reservations” is toggled off.

To activate the credit card hold for the special holiday event, head back to Sheets > Edit Sheet for the holiday sheet you created. Underneath Advanced Sheet Settings, turn on the “Override Global CC Hold” switch and paste your credit card policy for the event into the text box. You can also set the minimum party size that requires a credit card hold.

Communicate Special Messages With Sheet Notes

If there is a specific message that you would like to convey only to guests booking for your holiday event, you will want to set up Sheet Notes for your holiday sheet. Confirm you are still editing your holiday sheet under Configure > Sheets, and you will find Sheet Notes under Advanced Sheet Settings. You can let your guests know things you’ll be offering that are specific to the holiday dates such as a prix-fixe menu, how much it costs per person, etc.

Once you are done creating your holiday sheets, make sure to schedule them on the calendar so that the Yelp Reservations system knows which days to use your holiday hours. In the Configure tab, go to Schedule, and navigate to the date you would like to use your holiday sheet. Click on the date, and select “Attach [Shift] Sheet” or “Swap” (if there is already a sheet scheduled on that date) next to the appropriate shift. Select “This Day Only,” then click “Choose Sheet” to pull up a list of your sheets. Locate and click on your holiday sheet, then choose “Attach Sheet” or “Swap Sheets.” Repeat as necessary for other dates when you would like to use your holiday settings.

And you’re all set for the holidays! Consider this an early holiday gift to yourself. Happy Reservations!

For more information about Yelp Reservations, visit our site or call us at 844-889-9066.