This plugin has been developed to work with the popular (and free) WooCommerce online store builder toolkit for WordPress. It’s the first booking and appointment plugin to offer this level of integration with the platform and it aims to fill a growing demand and a gap in the market for a robust and effective booking solution for WordPress. The good thing about this plugin is that because of the WooCommerce integration, you also gain access to all the other WooCommerce plugins such as such as over a 100 payment gateways.
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The WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin makes it possible to add a booking date and time slot for each product listed on your WooCommerce site, allowing you to sell and manage a whole range of products and services that are date dependant. This makes the plugin ideal for anyone offering or managing services such as:
- Hotel bookings
The list of services that could benefit from this plugin is almost endless. Unlike other booking and appointment plugins available for WordPress, its full integration with WooCommerce means that you can take advantage of all the great features of this eCommerce toolkit such as the heightened security, excellent reporting abilities, numerous payment gateways, ability to offer reward points and many more.
To begin building a powerful online booking system, or give your WooCommerce store the ability to manage appointments, you will off course need to have the free WooCommerce plugin installed and activated.
Next the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin will need to be installed, after which you will see a new menu item created entitled ‘Booking’. From here you can define the global settings for your site and view all existing bookings.
The Global Booking Settings page allows you to set a language, date and time formats, and the number of months to show in the calendar. Each setting is accompanied by a helpful tooltip to further explain what each item does.
At this point you can also set the appearance of the calendars used on your site by choosing a theme. At the time of writing there were a good number to choose from making it highly likely that there is an option that matches the colour scheme of your site.
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The Global Booking Settings also allows you to exclude or black out days where your products or services cannot be purchased or booked. This is very easy to do and simplify involves clicking on the corresponding dates on the calendar. These excluded days apply to all products on your site, however additional black out days can be added to individual products.
Once your settings have been saved, you can now begin to add products to your WordPress store which have a time and date component as part of their availability.
I did notice some irregular formatting occurring here, which while it didn’t negatively affect my user experience, was a little off-putting for a premium plugin. However, this didn’t appear on the front-end of the site and was only visible in the admin area.
Creating Bookable Products
Once the plugin is installed and activated, it is possible to edit existing WooCommerce products and use the newly added ‘Booking’ meta box. This is very helpful if you’ve previously been offering services through your online store in some other way, or making do without a way accept bookings for specific dates and times.
Whether you are creating new products to use with this plugin, or editing existing ones, the process is the same. Simply edit or create a new a product, scroll down to the ‘Booking’ meta box and then enter your desired settings.
At this point you can choose from a number of options to suit the type of product or service you are listing:
- Allow multiple day booking: this allows you to offer bookings that span multiple days making it suitable for accommodation bookings or items available for hire. If this is checked you lose access to the next option.
- Select Booking Method(s): here you can set specific dates when you or your service is available for booking. This is easily done by clicking on the pop out calendar and it is not necessary to enter the dates manually. It is also possible to set recurring weekdays for your product availability such as every Monday and Tuesday.
- Lockout Date after X orders: set a limit for how many bookings you can take for a specific date. If you can only accommodate 10 guests to an event then set this field to 10. Alternatively, if you only have five rooms available at your hotel, enter this figure here.
- Minimum Booking time (in days): this refers to the notice period required for making a booking. If you don’t want someone to book you or your service the day before they want to arrive, enter the notice period you require here.
- Number of Dates to choose: set how far in advance bookings can be made. Entering 30 allows customers to make a booking 30 days into the future from the current date.
- Select Holidays / Exclude Days / Black-out days: while you can exclude and set black out days in the Global Booking Settings which apply to all products, it is also possible to do this at the individual product level.
- Enable Booking Time: if your product is available to be booked by the hour rather than the day this option will allow you to specify time slots. Once checked, you can then enter a range of time that can be booked or multiple individual time slots.
After setting up the product booking details, the ‘View/Delete’ tab allows you to view all the available slots you have created and delete any individual options if necessary.
Accepting a Booking
Once the Booking options have been entered and enabled, and the product published, the item will now be able to be booked for a given date or time slot by the customer.
The customer can select from the available dates using the pop out calendar and then enter a time slot from the drop down menu (if you have enabled time slots).
Then booking is then added to the customer’s cart where the reservation can be reviewed before payment is made.
As this plugin runs on the WooCommerce platform, you have many options to choose from when selecting a payment method thanks to the large number of payment gateway extensions available.
The plugin makes it easy to view all the bookings taken on the site. They can be viewed from the View Bookings submenu, on the Booking menu item, on the main dashboard side menu.
There are lots of options for viewing the bookings and they can be exported as CSV, Excel, PDF or printed out.
The WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin is available on three pricing plans to suit a wide range of users:
- Single store: $79
- Five stores: $199
- Unlimited stores: $249
These options should cover most types of users, from single site owners selling their service, to developers building client sites with the ability to take bookings.
The product page for the plugin points out that if your hourly rate is $40, then two hours of your time saved by using this plugin will cover its price tag. This is a fair point to make and when you consider the ease with which this plugin can manage bookings, the amount of time saved by avoiding the lesser quality free offerings out there, or dealing with a pen and paper system can’t be argued with.
This plugin was surprisingly easy to setup and use. Within less than an hour site owners can be begin offering their products or services online, available to be booked on specific days or timeslots.
Despite being a new release, the plugin has already been updated to include multiple date bookings which are ideal for hoteliers and multi-day rentals. This is a good sign that the developers are listening to user requests and are willing to update their product.
Thanks to its ease of use, and the fact that it integrates with WooCommerce, building a professional site with this plugin is very easy due to the foundations already laid down by the WooCommerce platform and the many extensions available for it.
If you are a web designer and are approached by a potential client who wants a website that is able to accept and manage bookings, then you can now happily offer them a solution using WordPress and the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin that is cost effective, easy to use from both the service provider and the customers perspective, and packed with a growing list of features.