April 12th is finally here – so here are the best ways to take bookings online

Just when you thought lockdown three might last forever – Covid-19 restrictions are finally being eased in England.

Today, non-essential shops, personal care businesses, indoor gyms, outdoor hospitality ventures and self-contained accommodation providers can begin operating again.

That’s a huge list of businesses – hairdressers, beauticians, tattoo artists, personal trainers, yoga teachers, cafes, pubs, eateries, boutiques and gift shops to name just a few.

Of course, BAU for all of these businesses will look slightly different to the way it did before.

With everyone having to implement their own Covid-19 safety precautions including social distancing measures, business operations have to be a little more controlled than in the past.

This is where booking systems come in.

If you’ve still not set up online booking for your business – now’s the time to do so.

In this article, we’ll look at three of the leading ways to set up online booking for your business, as well as consider the benefits of offering online booking to customers.

Three of the best ways to set up online booking
1. WooCommerce Bookings

WooCommerce Bookings is an extension – or add on – for websites built on WordPress and WooCommerce.

It can be added to your website in a couple of clicks.

Normally, it’s not a cheap extension – it’s priced at almost £200. The good news is that tsoHost includes this premium extension for free in its WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plans.

Here are the best bits of the WooCommerce Bookings extension…

• You define your time slots – you’re not just tied to hourly or half hourly slots.

• You can block time as unbookable.

• You can create buffers between bookings.

• You can take single bookings for multi-person events that automatically multiply the price per person.

• You can offer special pricing for certain days or individuals, such as early bird bookings or special prices for children.

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• Time slots show up in each customer’s own time zone – for example, a client in New Zealand will see a yoga class session listed as taking place at 9pm while a customer in the UK will see it listed as 10am.

• You can send out reminders to customers.

• You can define whether bookings can be cancelled or not.

• You can enhance the functionality of the booking extension even further with other extensions – for example Bookings Availability, which is also included for free in tsoHost’s WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plans.

2. WooCommerce Box Office

If you want to allow multiple bookings for a single time slot or event, this is a great option.

Like WooCommerce Bookings, this extension can be added easily to WordPress websites that have the WooCommerce plugin installed.

Also, as with WooCommerce Bookings, this plugin – worth around £100 – is included free as part of tsoHost’s WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plans.

Here are the best bits of the WooCommerce Bookings extension…

• You can create unlimited ticket types, from VIP to press passes.

• You can customise signup forms so you can learn more about your customers.

• You can restrict content to ticket holders.

• You can offer discount codes.

• You can search for attendees by all sorts of fields, from name and company to email address and company.

3. WordPress Booking Calendar Plug-in

This plug-in for websites built on WordPress was one of the first plug-ins that was ever developed to allow booking functionality on WordPress sites.

Since it was created in 2009, it’s been downloaded more than 1,800,000 times.

The plug-in allows you to add a calendar to your WordPress site that customers can use to make bookings.

You can allow bookings for specific time slots or full days and availability is displayed to customers using a traffic light system of colours – green for free, red for already booked up, etc.

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The plugin is free and easy to add to any site when you have WordPress Hosting.

The top 5 benefits of offering bookings and appointments to clients

1. Reduce client anxiety: Research by the Mental Health Foundation has found that 53 per cent of people have experienced anxiety and worry as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Plus, recent newspaper reports suggest that many people are going to carry this anxiety into the post-lockdown period.

Allowing your customers to book time slots with you is a way of offering them a little control over their return to ‘normal’ life.

2. Reduce your own anxiety: If you’re worried about going back to work, especially if your business offers services to younger people who haven’t had the vaccination yet, you can settle your own nerves by knowing who and what you have on your plate every day.

You can also use booking systems to add buffer time to your day – see above.

3.Save money on no-shows: If you take payment for bookings in advance and set your system up so that it doesn’t allow cancellations or refunds, you won’t be left out of pocket if a customer decides not to show up.

4.Save time: If you work in a job where you have to juggle clients at the same time as taking bookings – such as a hairdresser, tattoo artist or personal trainer – you can reduce the hassle by allowing your website to do the bulk of the admin for you.

5. Get a better insight into your clients: when customers book online, they give you access to data that you can use to better understand your clients’ demographics and preferences. You can then use this information to fine tune your services.

Find out more about taking bookings and appointments and selling tickets online on our WordPress Ecommerce Hosting pages.


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