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This paper examines whether restaurant reservations should be locked to specific tables at the time the reservation is made, or whether the reservations should be pooled and assigned to tables in real-time. In two motivating studies, we find that there is a lack of consensus in the restaurant industry on handling reservations. Contrary to what might be expected based on research that shows the benefits of resource pooling in other contexts, a survey of 425 restaurants indicated that over 80% lock reservations to tables. In two simulation studies, we determine that pooling reservations enables a 15-minute reduction in table turn times more than 15% of the time, which consequently increases service efficiency and enables a restaurant to serve more customers during peak periods. Pooling had the most consistent advantage with higher customer service levels, with larger restaurants, with customers who arrive late, and with larger variation in customer arrival time.


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© SAGE. Final version published as: Thompson, G. M., & Kwortnik, R. J. (2008). Pooling restaurant reservations to increase service efficiency. Journal of Service Research, 10(4), 335-46.
doi: 10.1177/1094670508314267
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.