The purpose of an online booking system is to allow potential customers to book and pay for your services through your website 24/7.

Why do I need online booking system?

It means customers can make appointments 24/7 without the hassle of calling you to find you are unavailable or with a client. It means customers can look and see availability immediately and select a time and date that suits them without to-and-fro with someone on a phone. You are offering an enhamced customer service.

As a small business owner, your time is best spent on delivering your service or product. If you don’t use an online boking or appointment system as your business grows you will use an increasing amount of you time on admin and emails.

A good online booking system manages all this for you and sends automates messages, reminders and manages cancellations.The investment in an online booking system will buy you time; time to take more booking and increase your revenue. That can only be a good thing.

What actually is an online booking system?

An online booking system is a web page where clients can book appointments with you 24/7.

Generally, your client will be presented with a calendar showing your availability and they can choose the time and date that suits them best to book in and see you for their desired service.

In addition you can set up payment so that clients can pay for services online at the time of booking, pay a depoist, or alternatively you can simply take the booking and have payment on arrival. There are also subscription options to allow monthly or weekly payments to be set up. It’s flexible with endless possibilities.

You can set up services such as dog walking that can be booked, or hotel rooms. The page shows real time availability and allows clients to select times most convenient to themselves.

It can also be integrated with external calendars such as google calendar, or other booking systems such as Air BnB so no conflicts arise.

What kind of business need online booking?

Anyone who has customer interaction. Anyone who wants to free up more time to spend on their core business. Anyone who wants to offer customers a better experience of their business.

It can be for appointments for services such as medical or beauty treatments or course; the collection of goods that aren’t easily shipped for example food takeaways or flower collection. Online booking also works for hotels, holiday cottages and even event or conference room bookings.

Does my small business really need an online booking system?

  • It extends your availability to 24/7.  The purpose of an online booking system for customers means convenience, and therefore a better customer experience.
  • Customer information is secure. There’s no need to store names and numbers in a spreadsheet or ona piece of paper. This reduces any risk of GDPR breaches or data leaks.
  • Reduces your workload. You no longer need to spend your time taking customer bookings. This means you’ve got more time to deal with your core business.
  • Helps you stay organized. Nearly all booking systems allow you to view daily calendars, manage staff if you have any and also let you view how many spaces are left.
  • Prevents cancellations and no-shows. Most systems send automatic email reminders to your customers. This massively reduces the chance of no-shows. If your customer does need to cancel they can contact you easily and in some cases reschedule online.
  • Everyone is online nowadays, so if you want to offer a convenient booking method and get more appointments, online booking is the most efficient and affordable option for businesses of all sizes, and specifically for small businesses.
  • A booking system for small businesses can boost your bookings and increase customers, without even having to answer phone calls.
  • Online payments means people are more likely to turn up if a deposit or full payment has been taken for your service.

How to create an online booking system

PepperStreet has create multiple online booking systems. Using WordPress we also employ a premium plugin dependent on your business needs to bring a full suit of functionality to the table. Below are a few examples of how we have used online booking to help clients.

https://bollingtonbikefit.co.uk/

Plugin : WooCommerce Appointments

Bollington BikeFit wanted to offer bikefit appointments online to be paid for either online or in person. This plugin not only let them add multiple staff but also limit the availability of appointment to fit around James’ other commitments. They also needed to offer additional services such as tri bar fittings and additional bikes in the same fitting.

  • Extra Form Fields like checkboxes, options, inputs, color swatches and uploads. Each add-on field can provide additional cost and duration.
  • 2-way Google Calendar sync. Events from your Google calendar will be automatically synced with your site and vice-versa.
  • Staff Management & Login. Assign multiple staff to appointments, manage calendars for each employee and allow them to login and set their availability however they like.
  • Flexible Availability Rules. Set custom availability for each calendar date, day or hour and set breaks for holidays. #
  • Flexible Capacity Rules. Increase or decrease available places for specific slot.
  • Flexible Pricing Rules. Set custom pricing rules that for any date, day, hour or combination of both. Also set pricing that is different for each staff or quantity booked.
  • Set how much in advance customers can schedule an appointment.
  • Padding / Buffer time. Specify how many days, hours or minutes of padding (additional time) you need between appointments.
  • Allow you customers to cancel or reschedule their appointments without your assistance. You can also require staff approval before appointments are confirmed and paid for by the customer.

https://marlfieldsholidaycottages.co.uk/

Plugin : Hotel Booking

Marlfields have 8 holiday cottages in Cheshire and the Peak District. They wanted to move away from the heavy costs of Air BnB and offer an online alternative to their customers. The website has real time availability and the ability to book the cottages online and pay the deposit. We used the Motopress plugin Hotel Booking and also some of the additional plugins they offer to create a really robust and flexible system.

  • List as many properties as you need. Whole properties or single rooms. Works for campsite bookings.
  • iCal Channel Management to Sync with online travel agencies such as booking.com and Air BnB allowing you to use both simultaneously.
  • Rent out unlimited categorized properties (holiday homes, hotel rooms) or just a single accommodation
  • Mobile-friendly Property Search Form
  • Real-time Availability Calendars
  • Dynamic Seasonal Pricing
  • Complex Rates Based on Property Facilities
  • Per-person Property Rates
  • Property Rates Based on the Length of Stay
  • Discount Coupons in WordPress Hotel Booking Plugin
  • Bookable Extras or Free Services
  • Accept Payments Online or After Arrival
  • Instant or Manual Booking Confirmation
  • Customizable Min/Max Stay Requirements
  • Automated Admin & Client Email Notifications

bloomsofbramhall.co.uk

Plugin : Order Delivery Date Pro for WooCommerce

Blooms is a flower shop, that offers local delivery and also the ability to select a collection date. We created a shop where you could order online for delivery (local postcodes only) or collection. Select a delivery or collection date and time.

  • Select a Delivery Date & Delivery Time
  • Set different delivery charges for each weekday
  • Calendar recurring holidays or closed periods
  • Set Same-day & Next-day delivery with the cut-off time
  • Send a reminder email before delivery
  • Create local pick-up locations
  • Set Maximum Deliveries per day by Orders or Product Quantity
  • Customer or admin can reschedule order deliveries
  • Customers can choose “As Soon As Possible” delivery
  • Two-way deliveries sync with Google Calendar
  • Capture Delivery Date & Time on the Basket page or Checkout pages
  • Set flexible field labels & field placement on the checkout page
  • Set a minimum delivery interval between the order and the first delivery available
  • Auto-populate first available delivery date
  • View upcoming deliveries in the Delivery Calendar
  • Set specific delivery dates instead of weekdays
  • Add pickup date option with a delivery date (Addon)
  • Send reminders before the deliveries

filthymacs.co.uk

Plugin: WooCommerce Delivery Slots by Iconic

A burger restaurant that during lockdown was limited to take away service only so we set up collection date and times for the website so people could order burgers in advance and choose a collection time and date. Also Filthy Macs could limit the number of slots available at any time so they were not overwhelmed with orders at one time.

Functionality

  • Schedule Delivery or Pickup at the Checkout
  • Reserve and Then Shop
  • Allow your customers to reserve a delivery slot before they start shopping.
  • Maximise Order Capacity for Any Given Day and Time Slot
  • Ensure you have capacity by restricting the number of orders that can be placed per day and time slot.
  • Set order limits based on the day of the week and time slot.
  • View all upcoming deliveries in one easy-to-understand and sortable table.
  • Flexible Scheduling and Fees for Delivery, Pickup, Same Day, and Next Day
  • Set Delivery Days
  • Shipping Method Restrictions
  • Assign time slots to specific shipping methods, making it easy to create complex delivery date rules.
  • Disable for Products or Categories
  • You can disable the delivery date and time fields if specific products are in the cart.
  • Calendar Themes
  • Choose from a number of calendar styles to ensure it matches your store’s design.
  • Define Min/Max Delivery Date
  • Define how many days required before the first and last available delivery date in the calendar.
  • Delivery Date Fees
  • Set fees based on the day of the week, same day, or next day deliveries.
  • ASAP Delivery Option
  • Allow your customers to select delivery “as soon as possible” instead of choosing a time slot.
  • Disable Time Slots (X) Minutes Before Start Time
  • Disable time slots if the order is placed a certain number of minutes before the time slot begins.
  • Enable Slots for Specific Shipping Methods
  • Choose which time slots show for which shipping methods. Create flexible shipping schedules.
  • Time Slot Fees
  • Charge an additional fee if your customer selects a specific day of the week or time slot.
  • Disable Slots After (X) Orders
  • Also known as “lockout”, you can disable time slots after (X) orders on any one day.
  • Deliveries Calendar

https://bollingtoncommunitycentre.co.uk/

Plugin: Bookings and Appointments For WooCommerce Premium

The Community Centre has 2 rooms available to book by the public. They wanted to streamline the process of booking as the centre is managed by volunteers and it was taking a lot of time. We set up each room as a ‘product’ either of which could be booked individually, in addition although we didn’t purchase the reoccurring booking features multiple bookings could be added to the basket so a client could book, for example, 6 sessions at either the same time each week/month or slightly different times each week or month.

Functionality

  • Offer Bookings in Minutes, Hours, Days or Months
  • Allow users to book Multiple Days or Multiple Appointments at a time
  • Offer Multiple Bookings for the same time slot
  • Allow Booking Cancellations—Set a Time Limit until which Cancellations can be accepted before the booking starts
  • Enable Booking Approvals/Confirmations from the Admin
  • Email notifications to users and admin for a New Booking, Confirmations, and Cancellations
  • Email Reminders to users for upcoming bookings
  • Dynamic total Booking Cost calculation based on number of days or time slots selected
  • Allow Buffer or Padding time between Bookings(Flexible Buffer After/Before a Booking)
  • Google Calendar Sync
  • Staff Management–Add any number of Staff | Manage Staff Availability | Manage Prices | Manage Leaves
  • Restrict Customers from booking at the last minute! Set a Time Limit until when customers can book before a Booking starts
  • Restrict Bookings to start only on Certain Days of the Week
  • Set any number of Weekdays as Unavailable
  • Set specific time of a Specific Date as Unavailable
  • Set a specific time of the Weekdays as Unavailable
  • Special Prices based on number of Days Selected
  • Special Prices based on number of People
  • Special Prices for Specific Days
  • Special Prices for Certain Weekdays
  • Special Prices for Certain Time of Weekdays
  • Special Prices for Certain Months/Seasons
CONTACT US

Interested in an online booking system on your website

If you feel you may benefit from an online booking system on your website we'd be happy to offer a free consultation on an existing website or find out how we can help you start an online booking service.
CONTACT US