Have you considered offering online bookings to your clients?
A wide variety of booking services are available online which can be integrated directly onto your website or added as a clickable button link to a web page or social media page.
Some typical use cases
- book an appointment. e.g. lawyer, doctor, hairdresser , personal trainer, driving instructor
- book a room, accommodation or similar
- group event bookings
- book a group session where a maximum number can attend e.g. dog walking session, fitness class
- book a home visit by tradesman e.g. annual boiler service
- hire equipment
A quick search of the web finds numerous products including
- Appointment Hour Booking
- Easy Appointments
- systembookings (bespoke systems)
- you can book me
Inclusion on the above list does not provide any recommendation from Apps By Design. Other products are available and you must validate each product against your requirements.
Third party booking systems
A lot of third party vendors offer online booking apps/services with features that vary between products.
Features that might be offered include
- multiple services e.g. a fitness company might offer separate services for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics
- payment at point of booking
- payment cost variation by date/discount code etc
- booking form only accessible to registered clients
- client registration with custom questions as part of the registration process and validation of email address.
- approval of new client registrations
- appointments times in duration of days, minutes, slot times and recurring bookings
- group bookings where a maximum number of attendees can enrol per session.
- how popular would online bookings be with your existing clients ? does client need to upload documents etc as part of the registration or booking process?
- waiting lists if session is full
- mobile app availability
- automated emails to client including reminders
- integration with your online calendar e.g. Goggle, iCloud , Outlook .
- ability to send SMS notifications
- integration with existing website frameworks. E.G. WordPress
- management of bookings via vendors portal
- client can amend/cancel own bookings
- prevention of double bookings
- customisation of email templates etc
- ability to skip bank holidays, personal holidays, busy etc.
- ability to determine availability from calendar connected
- verbal bookings (telephone etc) can add bookings via admin options to ensure online data accuracy
- API access to data
Publish options differs between vendor products but can include
- the vendors booking form is embedded within a page on your website
- a standard URL is added to your website page, social media page or email notification which when clicked opens the booking form on the vendors website
- a specially configured button is added to web page or social media
It is worthwhile to consider if an online booking option would be helpful to your clients. It could improve business efficiency and allow clients to book anytime day or night.
When reviewing third party appointment booking services remember to check that
- the product is being actively maintained
- product is compatible with any apps you intend to use
- regulatory compliance e.g. GDPR, data security etc
- cost including any limits like maximum number of upcoming appointments etc
- can your data be exported if needed? e.g. if you subsequently decide to move to an alternative booking service provider in the future
If your use case differs to standard use cases you could develop a bespoke booking application specific to your requirements. This is likely to be more costly and you also need to consider ongoing support and maintenance.