Online Bookings: Tips and Plugins for Your Site

Tools for online bookings allow website visitors to quickly schedule appointments and meetings at any time via their desktop or mobile device. In most cases, these solutions prompt customers to select time slots, fill out all of the necessary information, and confirm appointments. They also notify the business each time someone completes a new booking.

If you have a Business plan, you can add an online appointment booking feature to your website. Read on for some useful information to help you decide whether you should add an online booking feature to your site as well as a few popular plugins.

Why should I use online bookings?

By offering online bookings through your site, you can create a more streamlined experience for you and your website visitors. Here are the top three advantages to using an online booking system:

1. Greater convenience for customers

Because online bookings are available 24 hours a day, customers aren’t restricted to making appointments solely during your operating hours. They can navigate to your site and complete a booking whenever they’d like. Because booking tools generally show users all available time slots within a specific period, it’s also easier for customers to choose the appointment time that best fits with their schedule.

2. Decreased administrative work

From the back-and-forth process of trying to find an available time slot that suits you and your customer, to capturing all their information and manually sending a confirmation email, taking appointments by phone can be a time-intensive endeavor. Online bookings help cut down on phone calls and administrative work so you can focus your time and energy on other efforts.

3. Reduced no-shows

With automated confirmations and reminders, an online booking option can help make sure customers remember their appointments and show up on time — a clear benefit for both parties.

Which companies should use online booking tools?

Many different industries leverage online booking solutions. Here are a few examples of companies that currently offer online booking options on their business websites:

  • Clinics

  • Consulting services

  • Financial services (i.e., CPA or financial advisor)

  • Formalwear or bridal shops

  • Hotels

  • Interior decor/design venues

  • Law offices

  • Personal trainers

  • Private lessons providers (i.e., music teacher or dance instructors)

  • Real estate offices

  • Restaurants

  • Salons

  • Spas

What plugins can I use for online bookings?

Here are three excellent online booking plugins you can add to your Business site:

1. Appointment Hour Booking

This popular plugin allows you to create booking forms for appointments with a defined start time and duration. Users can select a service and preferred start time, and the plugin will automatically populate an end time based on the service length (set by the admin). This way, you can avoid double-bookings and appointment overlap. Appointment Hour Booking also allows you to set service prices, sync with iCal, and customize email notifications for users and admins.

2. BirchPress

This plugin is customizable and syncs with many of the most popular calendar apps, including Google, iCal, Outlook, iPhone, and Android. Not only does BirchPress allow users to book appointments directly from your website, it also offers online payment services via PayPal or credit card, too.

3. Booking Calendar

This free, easy, and mobile-responsive plugin has been downloaded more than 1 million times since its release in 2009. Booking Calendar allows users to check availability, choose open slots, and submit their booking. Admins can approve or decline reservations, view all appointments at a glance using the dashboard, or use the search filter to find appointments using specific criteria.

Adding an online booking to your site can provide a more positive customer experience while helping you save time and keep your appointments well organized. By using one of these plugins, you can begin accepting booking through your website today.

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Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is an old school, gumshoe journalist trapped in a modern content marketer's body. She specializes in writing for the marketing, technology and healthcare industries, and loves helping bloggers and small business owners grow their presence online. Carrie resides in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX with her husband and two adorable cats.

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