Pubs and restaurants could be losing out on diners’ bookings if they are employing old “pen and paper” systems, writes Lesley Foottit. Livebookings has revealed that 12% of pub and restaurant bookings are now made through smartphones and tablets — up from 5% a year ago — with that figure looking set to rise to 25% by the end of 2012. Livebookings has just launched a range of services to help venues respond to changing consumer behaviour — it is now possible to relay table availability in real time to mobile and internet users and stay open to last-minute covers. Livebookings Professional also allows walk-in data to be captured along with phone and online data; an active tables plan for dragging bookings and dropping them onto a table; the ability to track new arrivals and diners leaving, with tables being logged as free in seconds and updated for other on-line bookers along with cancellations. “Mobile and online bookings are rising fast, so we’ve focussed on providing the technology to help restaurants make the most of that,” said Emma Harvey, group product director at Livebookings UK. Currently 10% of bookings are made online and Livebookings expects this to rise to 30% to 50% in the next 10 years. Currently 67% of people expect to be able to book online. Most bookings are made between 7am and 9am and 40% of all calls made during peak service hours go unanswered. “The pub and restaurant market is the last to be properly revolutionised by technology,” said vice-president sales Guy Halfhead. “Pubs especially are still behind technology, with the exception of the bigger pub groups and more tech-savvy independent gastro-pubs. If you take bookings, then the facility should be available online.” For sports pubs and bars that do not take dining bookings the system can be useful for allocating tables for sports fans during busy events and capturing customer data.