The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) is calling for its members to introduce non-refundable deposits in a bid to end no-show bookings.

The council, which represents 2,500 members of the Irish restaurant industry, argues that these unexplained cancellations damage restaurateurs across the country.

Chief Executive of the RAI, Adrian Cummins said: “The booking policy would envisage restaurants taking a €20 deposit off customers for tables of four or more, with a 24 hour or 48 hour cancellation notice policy in place.

“Restaurant no-shows make up for 15% to 20% of customer bookings which detrimentally affect the bottom line profitability of the sector.

“That’s the difference between surviving and not for some businesses. If you get a no-show at 9pm, you’re not going to fill that table.”

The practice is common for several Irish restaurants during busy periods, however the RAI ‘strongly advise’ all restaurants to implement it.

Some chefs and restaurant operators are in support of this policy, including Executive Head Chef at Strand Hotel, who said: “No-shows in restaurants have always been problematic in all countries I have worked in, on traditional busy nights like Christmas, New Year, Valentines and Mother’s Day.

“It is of paramount importance that a restaurant maximises its revenue on these dates as more staff are hired in to deliver on the service the restaurant has to provide and more food is purchased to cater for the volume of guests that have booked. If guests don’t show up for the booking then the restaurant suffers.

“I think all restaurants will embrace this for the busy nights mentioned previously, as it will ensure that food waste is reduced, our space is being maximised, staffing levels are adequate for guests booked and we are not disappointing guests on waiting lists.”

Liam Edwards of Jim Edwards Restaurant Kinsale, said: “There is a feeling amongst restaurants in smaller towns that this system wouldn’t work as they would fear losing the customer before they have booked at all.

“The Irish restaurant association has just highlighted this issue but it is up to every restaurant to make their own choice moving forward.”