The bare minimum qualities that define an online booking system aren't enough to sustain most business needs nowadays. You require an exclusive booking software with features vital to your business, that also offers room for improvement.
WooCommerce Bookings plugins have become really advanced in catering to your requirements and specifics. It's fairly easy to set up a reservation system for your website; if you have the right tools with you. So it's essential that you must look for a plugin that offers the benefits you seek.
In this guide, we look at the '12 Must-Have Features' which will help you select the right WooCommerce Bookings Plugin for your business. Read along to know more. 🤓
Set Booking Availability
You should be free to offer bookings based on the availability of your services/products with no compromise whatsoever. But to have that ability, you should have a highly flexible WooCommerce Bookings plugin that allows you to implement any availability condition. Only a few excellent plugins enable you to set such advanced booking availability rules.
An advanced Bookings plugin, for instance, should allow you to set bookable and non-bookable hours on individual days of the week. This way you can set the usual booking hours every day. You can also set non-bookable hours in between bookable hours which you could use as breaks. Some plugins even allow you to set booking availability relative to today. This would allow you to set, let’s say 3-day, time-period to set the availability that will change based on the current date. Learn more about setting booking availability.
Dynamic Booking Price/Cost Calculation
An intuitive Bookings plugin should be able to calculate prices dynamically right on the product page. Since availability and pricing go hand-in-hand in most business cases, it's equally important to set any and every booking pricing criteria. Many plugins allow users to set prices based on availability, so you can vary the booking prices based on time(minute or hour), day or even month.
Really good plugins will allow you to accept partial payments for your bookings, that is if your business demands. Certain businesses like hotel booking can easily charge for additional resources like 'Pre-paid WI-FI' and 'Exclusive Spa'. Whatever may be your requirement, the plugin should be capable of adding these additions on the go and display the final cost to your customers.
You should be able to manage your staff/team members responsibilities. That way you can streamline your bookings and offer a better overall experience to your clients/customers. A few good plugins would allow you to create members and set up flexible cost calculation rules for each of them.
Some plugins allow admins to set up staff members' schedules which thereafter reflects on the calendar. Meaning, the calendar will display the booking availability based on your staff members' schedules. This eliminates the post-booking hassle which used to be quite a common issue in bookings involving additional staff in businesses like salon/spa appointments or fitness courses.
Offer Additional Resources
Maximizing revenue without overbooking is always an issue if your bookings plugin cannot manage your resources for you. That way you will always have enough resource/equipment on hand to serve as many customers as possible, comfortably. So it's highly essential to get the exact number of the resource/equipment used each time someone confirms a reservation.
A few WooCommerce Bookings plugins will allow you to provide a field on your website where customers can enter the desired number of resource/equipment. This way you never run the risk of overbooking without the resources to deliver. For instance, in the case of hotel booking, you can let customers specify the number of required parking spaces beforehand to avoid any last-minute hassle. This would enable you to manage your spaces even better, and if required, you may even charge for every additional parking space.
Create and Sync Global Assets
In online booking terminology, an asset is usually referred to as an item/resource which can be used across your bookable products. You can set availability for your assets which could very well help you achieve your business case. Assets are really useful in cases where a few people provide multiple services and need to sync time intervals or when the same resource is used between different products. Let's take an example to understand this term better.
Suppose you own a hair spa business where you and your team members take online appointments to style your clients' hair. To avoid any last-minute hassle, you can use your members as assets and assign them to various appointments like hair coloring, hair straightening, and so on. Your clients can choose the appointment type and the team member available at that moment which will block that asset(member) throughout the entire booking. You can learn more about assets in Bookings.
Set Buffer Time between Bookings
Businesses that require online bookings to operate need time to reset things, and chances are, you would too. An ideal WooCommerce Bookings plugin should be smart enough to let you define a 'buffer' time between your bookings. Some even allow you to set up custom buffers before as well as after your bookings.
You can utilize this extra time to either prepare for your next booking or simply to relax and take time off work. Whatever may be the case, having the ability to define buffer time between your reservations/appointments can really help you serve customers better.
Set Recurring/Repeating Bookings
The need to set up recurring bookings is more than you'd imagine. Businesses such as online class or course booking constantly require an automated recurring booking method. In a recurring booking scenario, customers can place bookings and specify the interval after which the bookings are scheduled to happen again, automatically.
But the sad part is only a few WooCommerce Bookings plugins support the recurring booking option. Plugins like the PluginHive WooCommerce Bookings Plugin provides you with all the features required to set up a successful recurring booking system for your website. You can learn more about how recurring booking works if you're interested.
A must-have feature every bookings plugin should have is the Booking Management. It's really important to manage your reservations in the back-end, and it's not just for accounts purpose. Being able to manage your bookings by yourself gives you a sense of control over the flow of incoming bookings every day.
Most plugins have a separate management section where you would be able to see the timeline of bookings. You could either choose to delete, cancel or confirm the booking(s). And each booking will display information just like any other normal WooCommerce Order. So you would be able to see the payment info, customers' contact details, and much more. In addition, you should also be able to create manual bookings if the situation asks for.
Booking Cancelation and Confirmation
The above-mentioned feature gives you the power to manage bookings from your end. But what if you have hundreds of bookings? Would you be able to cancel or confirm bookings in that case? Even if you could, it's highly advised to shift the workload to your customers, that is, your customers should cancel their own booking. Imagine the amount of time you would save.
A few good Bookings plugin allow users to provide booking cancelation and confirmation choices to their customers. The confirmation choice, in particular, is a highly useful feature that gives you optimum control. You can allow your customers to send a booking confirmation request to you. And only when you confirm this request, your customers would be able to pay the booking amount, giving you control over what's in and what's out.
Email Notifications and Reminders
A Booking confirmation email includes everything from your customer’s booking details leading up to confirmation. When it comes to online booking, email reminders and booking email notifications play an important role in ensuring a great post-booking experience. Many good Bookings plugins will ensure your customers don't miss their appointments by sending email reminders way before it starts. Some plugins even allow you to send personalized email notifications to your customers.
You could set email notifications for a new booking, booking confirmations and cancelation. Some plugins even let you set up review emails which you could use to get valuable feedback and reviews from your previous customers. Learn more about sending Booking emails to customers.
2-Way Google Calendar Sync
The ability to organize and streamline your bookings is very essential. Google Calendar is a staple when it comes to managing our day-to-day lives. And what better than syncing all your WooCommerce Bookings with your own personal calendar? Well, many bookings plugin allow you to set up a 2-Way Google Calendar Sync which keeps you updated.
The term '2-Way' means you can place bookings on your website directly from your Google Calendar. Although this contributes to manual effort, you would be thankful when you need to make quick changes to your bookings when you're not in your office. It can also help you stay on top of all your reservations by avoiding double bookings.
Calendar Design Customization
Calendar Design is one of the most important features when it comes to online booking. You spend a lot of time creating an elegant looking website that suits your business and portrays your business ideas. It would be great to find a booking solution that offers the same level of design-customization to go along with your website's look and feel.
Plugins like WooCommerce Bookings and Appointments from PluginHive allows users to customize the calendar design and change the calendar color. The Booking calendar has a tempting design with customizable color schemes that makes it look more elegant. You can learn about Calendar Design Customizations options.
A tip for the beginners
Many WooCommerce Bookings plugins allow users to convert their normal products to a bookable resource. Yes, you heard that right! Creating a bookable product is as simple as creating a product with WooCommerce. Learn more about creating bookable products in WooCommerce
It is clear that online booking solutions are both increasing the present and future of bookings for all kinds of businesses. With more of us than ever browsing, booking and buying online it makes superb business sense. And as businesses increasingly move online the WooCommerce Bookings and appointment plugins allow both customers and businesses alike to take their bookings on the road.
If you are in search of a bookings plugin that meets all the criteria that we just listed, you can check out the WooCommerce Bookings and Appointments plugin by PluginHive. It's a great plugin that offers all the above-mentioned features with some more.
Good Luck! 😊