You’re All Booked — Learn the Online Reservation Form Essentials

Websites need to look good to effectively engage audience members. Based on the industry that you’re in, you might need to give site visitors the added ability to book appointments on your website. Whether you own a spa or manage a law office, your website needs to offer reservation resources in addition to a visually appealing aesthetic.

So, how can you ensure that visitors use your site to make reservations and appointments? This article reveals the four elements that are needed to run an efficient booking site (including an online reservation form), how to find an appropriate theme to enable bookings, and the process of integrating your site into your bookings workflow.

Booking site basics

The design and layout of your site should support potential shoppers in making informed decisions about your business by guiding them to a page where they can book appointments to visit your hair salon or craft brewery. Here are the elements that your site must include if you want to increase the number of online bookings that your business receives.

1. Online reservation form

Arguably, the most important element of the booking portion of your website is the online reservation form. Reservation forms save time, as your visitors can submit and secure bookings without having to pick up the phone. You won’t need to worry about accidentally writing down incorrect information that could cause confusion once the day of the booking arrives. If you’re on the Business plan, you can choose from several form plugins that allow a visitor to schedule an appointment at your salon.

You can also create a reservation form by configuring a basic contact form. These customizable forms allow you to add whatever fields your visitors will need to make a reservation to use your services. You’ll receive the submitted form information in an email.

Using a contact form to make an online reservation form

A contact form is a straightforward and intuitive tool for collecting booking information. It’s important to note that contact forms are not recommended if you anticipate collecting highly personal information (like credit card details), as the data is shared over email. If you plan on collecting payments via your website, it’s better to use the reliable features found in our Payments block instead. Payments connects with Stripe and is available to any customer with a paid plan.

2. Clear navigation menu

Your main navigation menu should make it easy for visitors to find information about your booking packages or prices, contact details, and availability. It should also include a direct link to your online reservation form, along with a strong call to action, such as “Book Now” or “Check Availability.”

3. Responsive design

The percentage of people who consume online content using mobile devices is rising. Therefore, it’s important to choose a theme that has a responsive design, or a design built for optimization on mobile devices. This is critical for every website, but is especially important for businesses that encourage people to make bookings on the go. You can preview how your website appears on smaller screens using the Customizer.

4. Location information

While the primary goal of your site is to encourage people to book online, you should account for those who may not feel comfortable submitting their personal information using an online form. Make sure that your contact or booking pages include your physical business address, and other basic contact information. You can also use the Location tool in the post editor (under More Options) to share where your business is based.

Choose a theme for your booking site

There is no shortage of beautiful themes for sites — both free and paid ones. Begin your search by using the official theme repository and filter through themes by subject, feature, layout, and more.

Find a theme that will support an online reservation form

Narrow down your search results by using a subject filter like “Business,” “Collaboration,” “Hotel,” or “Real Estate,” depending on the industry you’re in. Then, further refine your search with additional filters like “responsive layout,” “desired features,” or “style.”

Keep track of form submissions

Once you choose a theme that aligns with your brand and encourages visitors to make reservations, you need a way to keep track of them. Most form plugins will send booking information straight to your email; however, manually parsing through emails and keeping track of bookings can prove to be time consuming.

Save time and automate this process using a service like IFTTT. This is a free service that instructs one application to perform an action whenever something happens in another application. You can use it to create a new row in a specific spreadsheet whenever you receive new form submissions on your site.

Your website is a key piece of your business real estate. Use the above tips to seamlessly integrate it into your reservation workflow, and to help you increase the number of bookings that your business receives.

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Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron is a freelance writer, editor, and SEO specialist from southern California. She is a contributor to The Motley Fool and blogs regularly at The Digital Inkwell.

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