HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Why do they ask if it is a special occasion?

  • b

Every time we make a reservation, we are asked *is this for a special occasion?*. Some times we say *yes, it is our anniversary* or *yes, it is our son's 16th birthday*.

Once we arrive at the restaurant, and these are high end restaurants, no one has ever acknowledgement the special occasion.

I'm wondering if any of you had any acknowledgments? Also, wondering if anyone knows why the person taking the reservation askes when there is no intent to acknowledge it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. The places I've had ask usually send over a special dessert or something of the like. My husband took me to Chicago for my 40th and we made all of our reservations well ahead of time and most of the places asked and we were treated to desserts, champagne, etc.

    1. I think most of the time itÂ’s done because there is a space on the reservation sheet (or on the computer) to make a note about a special occasion. The managers train the hosts to ask because they have an idea about some customer service gimmick. But the breakdown happens when the host is busy seating people and the server is busy serving people and they never communicate the information.

      Unless there are really good managers employed at a restaurant, the right hand could really care less what the left is doing.

      Eli

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChefElias

        "The managers train the hosts to ask because they have an idea about some customer service gimmick. But the breakdown happens when the host is busy seating people and the server is busy serving people and they never communicate the information."

        I agree with your comment above. What makes it worse for the customer too is that when asked the question over the phone when the reservation is made, it sets an expectation in the mind of the customer that something will be done to acknowledge the occasion. When nothing then happens, it leaves a "bad taste" due to the lack of follow-through.

        1. re: synergy

          That is exactly what happens.....When they ask, a certain expectation is planted in your brain that *something* might be done. The seed is planted.
          It does leave a bad taste when there is no follow through.

          I think you guys explained it best that there is a communication problem.

          I am going to mention something the next time I make a reservation at the same restaurants that didn't follow thru.

      2. I don't recall ever being asked, but any time I have mentioned it at the time of reservation I usually receive some form of acknowledgement. It also doesn't hurt to mention it to the manager or server sometime after arriving, as well...that is if you want them to acknowledge your celebration.

        1. As a former restaurant manager, when taking reservations I always asked the caller if their party was celebrating a special occasion.
          If they were, we would decorate their table and make sure the guest had an optimum experience. This includes telling the server about the occasion AHEAD OF TIME to avoid ignoring it, as you have experienced. That would include sending them a complimentary appetizer or glass of wine, depending on the guest and their tastes. And in addition, we would also send over a dessert at the end of the meal, personalized with their name written on the plate in chocolate. We never sang Happy Birthday as we thought that was too intrusive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hungry Girl

            The Dining Room at the Ritz in San Francisco once surprised me with a chocolate-written "Congratulations!" on a frosted glass plated dessert. My boyfriend had told the reservationist that I was quitting my miserable job! What a treat.

          2. I've had the same experience, where they've asked me if it was a special occasion, I've responded in the affirmative, and it was ignored once we got there. But I've also received acknowledgement from time to time.

            I used opentable.com to make reservations at an upscale restaurant for our upcoming 34th anniversary dinner. There's a box where you can put in comments for the host's attention, and I did mention that it was our anniversary, so I'll be curious to see if anything happens. However, I won't be surprised if our anniversary goes unnoticed, what with all the Mother's Day hooplah on the same day.