If you’re looking for a better way to do waitlist management for your restaurant, chances are you’ve had enough of messy paper waitlists and shouting out customer names.😤
And if you’re unlucky enough to have tried handing out beeping buzzers… you’ve also probably had your fair share of paying for the ones that get lost.
Still, upgrading to a tech system to handle your restaurant's waitlist could feel like another new thing you’ve got to learn and spend time teaching your staff.
Well, it’s 2024, and the perfect app to solve restaurant owners' waitlist woes exists! The three waitlist solutions on this list are all solid options that give you more control and are simple to use.
Even if you're not a “tech person,” you could have your new, improved waitlist software working by the time your next service starts.
Here are the three best and easiest-to-use waitlist programs for restaurants in 2024. 👇
- Yelp Waitlist
“It was super easy. We used to have two hostesses, and we can have one now because she doesn’t have to go looking for them. It’s just a lot less hectic, and it’s just a lot easier. You don’t have to go around finding people, you’re not writing down names.’” — Lisa Murphy, Tony Harpers Pizza & Clam Shack
TablesReady is an online app designed to make restaurant waitlist management effortless and simple. It has the reputation of a super user-friendly restaurant wait list software and text messaging system that improves staff and customer experience.
How TablesReady works:
As an intuitive restaurant waitlist software, TablesReady is, in the words of some active users, “stupidly simple to use.” You, your staff, and your customers will have no problem using the easy interface.
You create an account with them and access the app from just about any web browser on any device. Then, you add customers to your waitlist by entering their name and phone number. With a single tap, the system sends customers a text notification when their table is ready.
- Quickly message customers that their table will be ready in 5-10 minutes using automated SMS message templates.
- Engage in 2-way chat with waiting customers.
- Have better wait-list control even during peak hours.
- Join the waitlist using contactless QR check-in or ask a host to add them.
- See the average estimated wait time (if you leave this option active.)
- Easily cancel a waitlist reservation without having to phone you.
- Text back to your restaurant when they get a message or want to communicate specific needs.
To learn more about how the best waitlist app, TablesReady, works, try out this self-guided demo and see how easy it is to get started.
- Online app that works on any internet-connected device.
- Compatible with tablets, laptops, computers, or smartphones.
- Accessible from anywhere, you don’t have to download or install anything.
Free to use for up to 150 messages/month. No credit card is required to sign up. Pricing starts at $59/month as you increase the text messages you send. You can cancel your month-to-month plan at any time.
Customizable notifications: Allows up to eight different notification types, including a fully customizable alert message for ready tables and automated confirmations, cancellations, and reminders for reservations.
Automation: Can fully automate the SMS-powered waitlist with features like SMS sign-up, contactless QR code check-in, and automated text message actions.
Serving tracking: This option lets you assign each party to a resource — table number, room, employee, lane, etc. — and track your parties as you serve them.
Reserve with Google integration: Customers can join your waitlist from Google properties such as Google Maps, Google Search, etc. You can also use TablesReady to set up regular restaurant reservations.
Square POS integration for order pickup: Facilitates a seamless operational flow if you use Square for your sales.
Comprehensive analytics: Data exports and analytics are available for detailed insights into wait times and customer flow. You can look back on that week or month’s service and see exactly how long customers waited on average, your cancellation history, and other data that will help improve your staff's efficiency and customer service.
- Easy to use right away; your team won't need much training (if any) to get started.
- Favors a 5-star guest experience with either walk-in reservations or online bookings
- Personalized messages let you text in a way specific to your restaurant style and make customers feel more connected.
- Makes everything clear and helps guests enjoy the wait without adding to your workload.
- Customers’ details can be saved so repeat customers can be easily added to the waitlist.
- Contactless QR code check-in and automated messaging help customers sit without needing as many staff members.
- You don't have to spend money on buzzers or extra equipment; accessing the app online is all you need.
- You get reliable and responsive customer support.
- Relies on customers having a mobile device.
- Not compatible with Internet Explorer.
2. Yelp Waitlist
Yelp is a popular restaurant reviews platform that also provides functions and features for restaurant business owners. The Yelp Waitlist isn’t an individual waitlist software but a function of their Guest Manager. This restaurant management solution provides a queue management system to help you manage long lines and book online reservations. Using it will make your front-of-house look and work professional and improve customer satisfaction.
How Yelp Waitlist works:
Restaurants use Yelp Waitlist to let guests reserve tables or join waitlists online. The guests can join the waitlist online from anywhere and receive wait time estimations and messages when their table is ready.
- Works online from any web browser or as a dedicated iPad app.
Yelp Waitlist is fairly expensive. If you have less than 500 people on your waitlist a month, it’ll cost you $99. If you’re turning 500+ customers monthly or you want to use their floor plans feature, you’re looking at $299/month.
Reservation and virtual waitlist management: Guests can book a table online or walk into a restaurant where the staff will add them to the waitlist.
Wait time estimations: Guests who use the waitlist app also see a live wait time estimation.
Guest controls: Credit card holds, two-way texting, and seating preferences and policies will help guests and staff know what to expect.
Automation: POS integration, the Yelp Kiosk, takeout orders, and loyalty programs that work with the Yelp Waitlist help restaurants serve more customers with less staff.
- Yelp’s predictive algorithm helps restaurants provide more accurate wait times and lower the average wait times.
- Get a free iPad with a yearly subscription (must be purchased or returned upon cancellation)
- Restaurants can pair the waitlist app with other Yelp features.
- You can add additional services like Yelp Ads and Yelp Kiosk for a fee.
- Expensive with no free trial.
- Limited integration with other systems as the app is meant to work well, particularly with solutions in the Yelp ecosystem.
- Steep learning curve for all its additional features can make it difficult to learn.
Waitwhile is an all-in-one solution that, aside from online wait list management, also offers appointment management, communication tools, and operational automation. Designed to help businesses from various industries better handle their virtual queues, it’s more appointment-oriented than waitlist-oriented, but it can still work for the restaurant industry.
How Waitwhile works:
Waitwhile works online, so your staff must use an internet browser to log in and manage their waitlist from the account you create for your restaurant. Customers can join the waitlist through different channels, and once on the list, communication happens mostly through text messages.
Recently, Waitwhile also launched a dedicated iOS app that seems to leave room for improvements. Reviews are mixed so far, with users having some complaints about its effectiveness.
- Works online from any web browser.
Free account limited to 50 waitlist people /month and gives you a $2 credit to send text SMSs. You can, however, send unlimited emails. Waitwhile’s next plan costs $29, giving you $15 free credit to send texts. Depending on how many texts you want to send to your customers, it’s likely you’ll end up spending more than the flat subscription fee.
Virtual wait list management and appointment scheduling: Offers various customer joining options and easily integrates appointments.
Communication: Enables dialogue with customers before, during, and after their visit for updates and feedback.
Integrations: Connects with various tools and systems, including CRMs, POS, and more, for a unified operational approach.
Automation: Streamlines tasks like confirmations, feedback requests, and queue management for efficiency.
- Offers flexibility in how and when customers can join the waitlist.
- Automation features like appointment reminders reduce the manual workload on staff.
- Communication tools help you better understand what’s working and how satisfied customers are.
- Versatile and practical, as proved by its multi-industry use, helps you better handle long waits.
- Limited free plan quickly forces you into switching to paid.
- Not fine-tuned for restaurants, their focus being more on retail and large enterprises.
- Buggy iOS app.
Ready to turn tables and take control of your busy waitlist?
Restaurant waitlist management doesn’t need to make you pull your hair out. With TablesReady, the best queue management software with text notifications, you can go from stressed to calm without breaking a sweat or the bank.
Test the 14-day free trial with no credit card or contract required.