Need to accept appointment bookings at your WordPress site?
Start Booking is a WordPress booking plugin that’s a relatively new entrant to the booking plugins market. It’s built to help both individuals and businesses start conveniently accepting bookings through their WordPress site.
From a cloud dashboard, you’re able to add and manage services, configure users/staff members and opening hours, and manage all of your customers and appointments.
Overall, I found Start Booking to be a really simple, beginner-friendly way to start accepting appointment bookings at your WordPress site.
Keep reading my Start Booking review for a look at everything this tool has to offer.
Start Booking Review: Here’s What The Plugin Does
Start Booking is one of those plugins that’s part cloud dashboard, part WordPress plugin.
Once you configure the plugin via your WordPress dashboard, you’ll spend most of the rest of your time using Start Booking’s cloud interface.
In total, Start Booking can help you:
- Create multiple services that customers can book
- Accept unlimited bookings/appointments
- Manage appointments from the cloud dashboard
- Choose availability for both the store as a whole, as well as individual users/staff members
- Assign specific services to specific staff members
- Manage appointments and customers from the cloud dashboard
- Send appointment reminder emails
- Check customers in (for physical appointments)
- Integrate with Google Calendar so that you can connect your personal Google Calendar account and view, create, and manage appointments from that.
Below, I’ll show you how it all comes together for your WordPress site…
Hands-on With Start Booking
To get started with Start Booking, you’ll need to create an account at the Start Booking website (it’s free to start!).
Once you create your account, Start Booking will take you through a convenient little setup wizard/onboarding process to help get the basics set up:
And then, you’re in to the Start Booking cloud dashboard. I’ll show you this later on, but there’s not much going on yet because…I still haven’t set up Start Booking on my WordPress site!
How To Set Up Start Booking On Your WordPress Site
To integrate Start Booking into your WordPress site, you use the dedicated Start Booking plugin that’s available at WordPress.org.
Once you install the plugin, you can go to the Booking tab to connect to the Start Booking account you created in the previous step:
All you need to do is log in to your account from the interface and then you’ll be connected.
Once you connect your site, you’ll unlock the settings page.
Start Booking will automatically create a Book Now page for you. But you can also use the various shortcode options to customize how things work:
Start Booking includes two different shortcodes that you can use:
- Full Flow – by default, this is what it adds to the page it creates. Users choose from a list of available services and then go through the booking process.
- Quick Checkout – lets you choose a pre-defined service and bypass having the user select from your full list of services. You’re also able to customize the text that’s used on the button, which lets you offer a unique CTA for each service.
Here’s what the beginning of the full flow looks like by default:
Below the shortcode list, you can choose the colors for the button. That’s the only style option you seem to get:
And you also get other options for:
- Expedited booking – lets you speed up the booking process if certain conditions are met (like only having one service available)
- Content Customizations – lets you customize all of the text strings that appear on your booking form. This is nice for localization. Or, you can just switch up the English text to better fit your needs.
- Additional options – lets you do stuff like hide the progress bar and set a limit for how far in advance users can schedule a booking.
Ok, so that’s all for configuration options in your WordPress dashboard. But you also get a lot more control over individual services and availability in the Start Booking cloud dashboard.
How To Configure Settings In The Cloud Dashboard (Services, Hours, + More)
Once you configure the basic WordPress settings, you’ll perform most other configurations and day-to-day management in the cloud dashboard.
First, I’ll show you the rest of the available options. Then, I’ll demonstrate how the entire flow comes together to help you manage appointments.
First up, you can configure your opening hours for each day in the profile of your Start Booking account:
Beyond overall location hours, you can also configure hours for each individual user:
This one gives you a little bit more flexibility because you can include a lunch break.
But for both of these options, I’d still like to see more flexibility for handling non-traditional hours. That is, if you have a work schedule that doesn’t fit the traditional “9-5 with a lunch break”, Start Booking doesn’t seem to be able to adapt.
You can also create and edit services from the cloud dashboard:
When you create or edit a service, you can go a little more in-depth by:
- Assigning the service to specific users
- Choosing the service’s duration
- Creating a “recovery” time so that you have some space in between bookings
- Setting a price
- Turning off online booking (if you want, you can just manually use Start Booking as an appointment management solution without online booking).
Finally, you can also turn notification emails on/off for certain events in your profile, as well as choose the default time interval for openings:
Paid plans can customize the email text. But I was unable to do that on my free plan.
That’s pretty much it for configuration options on the plan I had access to! But if you’re on the Business plan, you would also be able to configure different rooms at your business (e.g. if you had a massage business with separate massage rooms).
How The Appointment Booking Flow Works For Users
Now that everything is configured, here’s how the flow works for your visitors to view availability and/or book an appointment:
One nice thing in this flow is that if a user enters an email address that’s already been used, Start Booking will automatically load their profile information so that they don’t have to fill it out again:
That’s helpful for removing friction for returning customers.
How The Appointment Booking Flow Works For Businesses
Once new appointments roll in, you’ll be able to manage them from the Start Booking cloud dashboard:
If you click on an individual appointment, you can:
- Check the customer in
- View customer details
- Add notes (depending on your plan)
And you’ll also be able to see a full customer list in the Customers tab:
If needed, you can manually add both customers and appointments, as well, which gives you some flexibility if someone wants to say, book an appointment over the phone instead of using your website. Additionally, you can use the Google Calendar integration to add and manage appointments from your personal Google Calendar account.
Overall Thoughts On Start Booking Functionality
Start Booking makes it really simple to start accepting appointment bookings on your WordPress site. You can go from nothing to accepting bookings in just a few minutes.
And that factor – simplicity – is what I think is Start Booking’s unique selling proposition.
It’s not the most flexible appointment system that I’ve used, so if you’re a developer who wants lots of actions/filters to customize things, or if you have niche needs (like non-standard, broken up working hours), you might be disappointed.
But if you just want an easy-to-use system to start accepting appointments without lots of settings/configuration options getting in your way, I think Start Booking makes a good option, especially in comparison to some of the more complicated WordPress plugins.
Pricing And How To Get Started
Start Booking offers a limited free plan, which is what I used for this Start Booking review.
After that, there are two paid plans. Both are billed annually:
- Individual – $7.99 per month
- Business – $19.99 per month
To get started, click below to head to the Start Booking website: