An online booking system allows customers to make bookings for your business services online with little to no intervention required by the business manager. Online booking systems can be used to allow website visitors to book appointments, equipment, tables at a restaurant, rooms in a hotel and more. The functionality suits a large variety of business types. When integrated with eCommerce, payment for bookings can also be made online at the same time.
An online booking system saves your business time as the customer does all the work for you. Your business spends less time taking phone calls and replying to emails and processing payments.
Most online booking systems have a visual calendar interface which visitors use to select a date and time for an appointment. They select options pertinent to the service being booked, such as room numbers or the professional they want to see. Advanced features can include recurring bookings, multiple day bookings, interface for customers to change bookings etc.
Implementing a Website Booking System
Online booking systems can be built as an integral part of your website, or can be provided by a third-party service which is embedded into the website. Third-party solutions tend to be easier and cheaper to implement, but they are hard to aesthetically integrate into your site. You’ll also have less flexibility in how you use the system. For example, many third-party booking systems will lock you into using a specific payment gateway. In-built solutions cost more up front, but will be more flexible and will integrate into your website seamlessly.
An example of a built in online booking system is WooCommerce Bookings, a plugin for WooCommerce and the Bookly WordPress plugin. An example of a third-party system is Timely.
It is possible that an out of the box solution won’t meet your needs. In which case, you’ll need to build something from scratch or extend an existing solution. Generally, it is more cost effective to extend existing booking software. Third-party systems tend to be standalone monoliths and cannot be modified. Built-in booking systems are much more likely to be extendable.