Since about 2013 we accept reservations in our restaurant sansaro for certain days only with deposit of a credit card - and are infinitely glad that this possibility exists!
Here we explain a bit more why we require credit cards at sansaro restaurant for some reservations and what the technical and practical background is.
Short form for cross readers:
- Some reservations at sansaro restaurant require a credit card (Spring 2023 update: for all days & times).
- We have had the experience over the years that reservations are repeatedly not taken
- This hurts us and other guests and our team.
- If we keep a table free for you on certain days, then we must be able to rely bindingly on it that you come, otherwise a damage arises
- In the last ten years, there has never been any misuse of the ticket data - but experience has shown that it is mainly those guests who have attracted attention in the past due to no-shows who are bothered by this.
Why we request credit card for some reservations
Those who know our restaurant know: the sansaro is a small restaurant, seating is limited. This is especially true in winter and in bad weather, when we do not have the extra seats of our terrace. And even in summer, with our large terraces, we sometimes have extreme reservation pressure: especially on Friday and Saturday, a lot of people want a table - and we are happy about every single one of these guests, and it hurts our hearts for every guest we have to turn away. The joy of welcoming guests is in our DNA.
Every guest should get the best possible seat
When a guest makes a reservation with us, he has the right to get the best possible place. Of course, depending on the size of the group and receipt of the reservation, each guest can rely on the fact that we will keep the place free for him and he is not in front of closed doors or came in vain.
We hold the place for you
Conversely, this also means that we expect commitment - because we hold the space forward and backward.
Meaning: if you reserve a table with us at 19.00h, we can not automatically place a guest there at 18h on it, because the table should be free for you at 19.00h. Likewise, we can not promise your table to a guest who calls and wants a table at 20.00h, because we assume that you usually want to sit for about two hours.
We take reservations seriously, just as our kitchen team takes the preparations for sushi and all dishes seriously. If something comes up, talk to us in time.
A place that remains vacant means loss for us
But remember: in the restaurant business you don't make money with empty chairs! We are a company with a commitment to the highest quality, qualified Japanese chefs, high quality ingredients, correct taxation, etc. actually depend on utilizing the restaurant to its full capacity. If each table is not occupied about twice per evening, then we make a loss - which in the medium term serves no one.
Now it is already since about 2012 that on many evenings there is a considerable crowd in our restaurant. We are extremely happy and grateful about this and yet we always want to welcome every guest equally, joyfully and enthusiastically from the heart. We are grateful for many reservations and also for many people who come to us spontaneously. Then we are always happy to try to find a place.
But we can only give seats that are not reserved. And sometimes we keep places for guests who do not come.
NoShows and cancellations at short notice happen frequently
And where it is known that the restaurant industry as a whole suffers from so-called no-shows, it often hits us particularly hard because of our complex seating arrangements (mixture of tatami, large table that is not usually reserved for groups of 2, etc.).
Time and again, we have seen guests turned away because there was no table available - only to find out later that the reservation didn't come.
Frustration for guests and restaurateurs due to NoShows
We will never forget the reactions we have experienced when we have called and asked - there has been everything:
Many guests do not even answer the phone when we call to ask if they are still coming.
Messages on the answering machine are usually not responded to at all (!).
Sometimes the number is wrong.
Or guests, contrary to our request in the resevation tips, have given a landline number, perhaps even in the company, where of course we can not reach them.
However, it often happens even more violently and we simply hang up when we identify ourselves.
Or we hear how someone is clearly sitting in another economy or beer garden and then tells us that unfortunately something came up....
This is already a heavy slap in the face of our efforts to prepare a nice table for each guest as punctually as possible.
Some guests are also quite nice and apologize - we can then also accept that. But the damage to us has already been done: after a certain time, there are usually no more spontaneous calls and no more WalkIns.
The table is no longer occupied, we don't make any sales - and as a rule we even turned away other guests beforehand who came by in person or still wanted a seat by phone.
Then you get really annoyed and it is an economic multiple damage, because the rice was prepared, the staff set up - and the guest does not come.
For the guests on site, this often resulted in a funny picture: why is it so difficult to make a reservation when not everything is booked? Of course, the guest does not see that we just had short-term cancellations and NoShows.
Something can always come up and we also understand when guests tell us that something has happened, etc. But we have a concrete economic loss. But we have a concrete economic damage - and above all we have noticed that some guests think it would be enough to try to call once briefly, and if we then do not immediately pick up the phone, we are probably to blame that the guest could not cancel (we are of course primarily concerned with the guests on site).
If a credit card is deposited, then suddenly it works
All of these things have magically changed on all the days we force credit card for reservations!
On these days, guests who have something come up are very active in trying to cancel their reservations, let us know ahead of time so we can plan accordingly.
On these days there are almost no NoShows anymore, which has the result that the guests who want a seat can get it. Because in the majority of cases, only the guests who are serious about it make reservations.
We've seen this since 2013, that the guests who have most discussed with us what an outrage it would be to require backup for reservations are usually those with a history of NoShow and last-minute cancellations.
But of course we also know that the majority of our guests are valued and reliable regular guests. There are certain rules for cancellation, the legally binding ones can be found in the GTC of us and are displayed in the reservation policy at the online system.
But in the end, only one thing really matters: if something changes, please let us know immediately.
Do not come to the restaurant and say "We are now spontaneously only 5 instead of 6." The small difference can quickly mean we can accommodate another group of 2 or even 4, who in our case are usually very nice people too (we are truly blessed at sansaro restaurant with a very pleasant mix of the most diverse, yet always very pleasant guests!). Call ahead immediately so we can be prepared - Japanese do not like surprises.
What happens to your credit card?
When you make a reservation with us by credit card, the following always happens whether online or on the phone:
the credit card data moves to a protected area at our reservation provider OpenTable, a credit card safe, so to speak.
There their card data is no longer readable for us and our team, only card provider and parts of the number are visible.
So your credit card information is not flying around uncontrolled in any form at our restaurant, in our computers or on the Internet.
The only thing we can do is trigger a charge via a payment provider afterwards - which we do if someone doesn't show up, doesn't cancel, and the reserved space couldn't be spontaneously allocated otherwise.
The thing with trust
There are now guests who say "You can trust me, I always come, but I don't want to give my credit card information"..
To this we can only say: "We like to trust you, but if you don't trust us with the handling of card data, then some days it just doesn't work."
Because we can't create individual exceptions for each guest, the service staff is supposed to take care of you when you visit, not someone who calls and wants to make a reservation for next Friday.
Therefore, in such a case come with pleasure spontaneously without a reservation, we are always happy about spontaneous guests and also try with all our heart to find a place for you.
Sunday too many last-minute cancellations and NoShows
It surprises us in recent weeks Sunday, when we are often very well attended. Many guests cancel their reservation a few minutes before the visit, even if they have reserved (= blocked the table for themselves) for a week before. This simply does not work anymore, sorry. Our reservations are binding, otherwise come by spontaneously.
Interesting logic of the guests
The vast majority of guests are understanding about the credit card thing if you explain it to them (which unfortunately there is not always time for on the phone!).
But now there was a call that really struck us in the aftermath: a customer wanted to make a reservation for four people on one of the strongest evenings, a Saturday in a week. When she heard about the credit card, she asked to cancel the reservation with the following reason: "We're a little uncertain about our health at the moment, and then the risk of having to cancel at short notice is too great for us."
That's remarkable! We should reserve the table for the customer for a week, but she already knows today that she would like to cancel the table then possibly a few hours before (!). For this we should take the risk, the customer does not want to bear this risk. Wow...
What you can do if you do not have a credit card:
- you are welcome to come by spontaneously! We are happy about every guest from the heart! Who respects our needs, accepts that we want to secure reservations that are binding for us accordingly. And those who can not do that are welcome to come by spontaneously and we will gladly try to find a place if it is somehow possible.