How to choose the right booking system
Finding the right booking system hangs on identifying the focus of your need. If you simply need your customers to make a prior appointment/booking, the software must integrate thoroughly with all popular calendars. If you have an online business and want to add a booking feature to it, look for software that provides maximum customization options. You don't want software that limits you with a rigid layout and forces you to defy your own brand requirements. To build a platform that acts as a booking channel to multiple platforms, products, and services, look for software that provides relevant API and integrations for your business.
Finally, there are certain features that always add value, irrespective of your specific business needs. Such features include multiple payment gateways that are fast and secure, a good CMS for organizing and managing your product/service cataloging, an efficient user management system, social media integrations, effective online booking forms, and a fast real-time availability check.
Online booking systems we will cover in this blog:
- Calendly— Strength: Free and simple | Limitation: Does not support advanced booking features.
- Planyo—Strength: Diverse templates, integrations, payment gateways | Limitation: Expensive
- SimplyBook.me—Strength: Multiple booking channels | Limitation: Unnecessary extra features for SMEs.
- WooCommerce Bookings—Strength: Integrate with WordPress sites | Limitation: expensive and works only with WordPress Sites.
- Bookly—Strength: Cheap and works for all businesses | Limitation: Works with only WordPress sites.
- Acuity Scheduling—Strength: Powerful API benefits | Limitation: Does not support advanced booking features.
- Appointlet—Strength: Free trial and low cost paid edition | Limitation: low scalability with rigid features structure.
- Bookeo—Strength: Strong cloud hosting can deal with large traffic. Best for booking services, therapies, and courses. | Limitation: Features focus on specific business domains.
- YouCanBook.me—Strength: Great feature customization and Calendar integration | Limitation: Relies too much on Calendar integration and rigid workflow.
Types of online booking systems
Different online booking systems are developed keeping in mind different use cases. Thus you will find different systems with different features and functionalities. Based on such differences these systems can be broadly put into three categories—Online booking software, appointment scheduling software, and WordPress Booking Plugins.
- Online Booking Applications —Use these to build feature-heavy booking platforms that deal with multiple booking-related tasks and functionalities.
- Appointment Scheduling Applications—Use these to build light applications that integrate with your business and focus majorly on scheduling and managing appointments.
- WordPress Booking Plugins —Use these to add an appointment or booking widget and feature to your existing WordPress site.
9 Best online booking systems at your disposal
Calendly is an online appointment scheduling software. It's simple and it's free; it has paid versions as well. Calendly is the perfect appointment scheduler for small businesses that only need their clients to book an appointment for a certain service. Calendly can integrate with all your calendars, and integrate with multiple applications like Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft Teams, PayPal, HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more. Calendly WordPress plugin is also available where you can embed Calendly to your WordPress site. The Calendly API can also be used to integrate Calendly within your product.
Planyo is best suited for building a centralized online booking channel/portal. It has templates for building a centralized booking platform for almost every business type, starting from vacation property and vehicles to tennis courts and parking lots. Planyo booking platforms can seamlessly integrate with your website and supports over 30 languages and 70 payment gateways.
With SimplyBook you can customize the features for your online booking platform. Although it might not be as flexible as custom web development, yet it's an upgrade over its contemporary systems that provide fixed features as per different price packages. SimplyBook.me is particularly useful with its multiple booking channels. Your SimplyBookMe booking platform can receive bookings through Booking Page, website booking widget, Google maps, Facebook, Instagram, and Client App. SimplyBook is very useful for its integrations as well. You can have your SimplyBook booking platform integrate with almost all important services like Facebook, Instagram, Google services, Zoomla, WordPress, Zapier, and more.
4. WooCommerce Bookings
WooCommerce Bookings is a WordPress bookings plugin. This is something you will definitely want if you already have a WordPress website and want to add a booking feature or booking widget to it. And the best part is, the core features are free. You can receive bookings to your website free of charge, and manage the bookings from a dashboard. It can integrate with other WooCommerce extensions like Woo Commerce Appointments, WooCommerce Subscriptions, and Smart Coupons—integrations that boost the booking functionalities.
Bookly is also a WordPress booking plugin with a use case similar to WooCommerce Bookings. Bookly also has a free version but it's very limited on the payments options and number of staff users. Bookly has a unique feature where it creates unlimited staff members. And each staff member can create their separate listings with unique prices and availability. Owing to this feature. Bookly works best with agencies with multiple service providers.
6. Acuity Scheduling
Acuity Scheduling is an appointment scheduling application. Acuity scheduling provides a great degree of flexibility in functionality customization. You can customize the design of your platform, the sequence of the booking process, the layout of the booking form, third-part integrations to include in the booking process, and different payment gateways. Once you have created your booking page with Acuity Scheduling, you can embed the link to your website, generate a QR code, or create a booking button. You will also get an iOS and Android App to manage your Acuity business account.
Appointlet is a free online Scheduling software that will fit best with small businesses that looking for free solutions. It is as simple as creating a booking page and sharing it with your clients and customers. You can create multiple pages of intake forms to accommodate different necessities like customer details, booking details product/service details, price details, cancellation policy, and such. Appointlet provides all the basic features like real-time booking, creating a buffer around bookings, multiple payment gateways, and send email notifications to customers.
Bookeo is an online booking software with an extensive user base. It has an active user base of 40,000 users and from it—57 million bookings. Bookeo is also known to have very able cloud hosting services, meaning speed and performance won't be a problem. Bookeo integrates with all major platforms, google service, and social media channels. It provides a diverse range of features that help develop a booking platform for almost any possible business domain. Bookeo can even integrate with multiple online Calendars, and even let you include a booking widget on your Facebook page. Bookeo also provides dedicated course booking features to manage the student database. Finally, the Software can also seamlessly integrate with Content Management Systems like WordPress and Wix, and payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe.
This is feature-heavy online scheduling software. With YouCanBook.me you can turn your online Calendar into the central hub for managing all your bookings. You can simply connect your Google/iCloud calendar to your YouCanBook.me account, and set the features on your personalized booking page. As you start to receive bookings you can easily manage them from your calendar. Any changes and rescheduling in the bookings are automatically updated in the calendar. You can personalize the look of your booking page as per your brand theme and configure the booking form as per your business needs. YCBM booking app can send booking notifications and customer follow-up emails. And the software integrates with google services and third-party like Zoom, Zapier, Stripe, PayPal, and Office 365.
Personalized development of online booking platform
Personalized development or custom development is probably a better solution, especially for people with low technical know-how, for developing an application or online booking platform. The two foremost benefits of opting for personalized development are having business-specific features and being concern-free of technical setbacks.
Small to medium businesses, businesses looking to scale, businesses looking to optimize, and businesses selling niche products/services will always have fixed requirements for features. And personalized development happens to be just the solution for them. In personalized development, you can customize the website or application to the very last detail.
You can plan the interface and design entirely from scratch to suit your brand, and not simply tweak around customizable templates. You can specifically select the integrations that your business needs. You can carefully design your network security, build features for customer relationship management, customize features for user accounts, and much more. In personalized development, you are completely free of technical responsibilities. Your developers will not only build your website but also ensure there are no technical glitches post-deployment.
Your development firm will also be well versed in marketing research and strategies. They will ensure you have an optimized interface and SEO-friendly content. Thus, personalized development of your booking platform also means a higher rate of traffic inflow.
Online booking platform development at Inkoop
Inkoop has a team of passionate developers, creators, and managers with prior experience in developing online booking platforms. SupremeGolf and Washroom are two examples. SupremeGolf is a centralized online booking platform for making Tee time reservations. And Washroom is an online booking platform for making laundry reservations.
SupremeGolf is the world's largest Tee timer reservation platform. Inkoop has played a critical part in the development of this platform—having built many new features, optimizing the website, and developing 3rd party integrations and API.
Inkoop values fast, relevant, and efficient software development, as well as long-lasting customer relations. This is why Inkoop continues to provide thorough customer support and app maintenance, even after the development is complete. Inkoop offers a complete booking platform development solution—with build and maintenance.
Why Choose Inkoop?
- The latest technology for speed and performance.
- Complete customization of features as per your needs.
- On-time delivery of your platform.
- Round-the-clock tech support and maintenance for bug fixes.
- Premium code quality and code testing for bug-free performance
- Benefit from a complete team of developers, creators, and managers.
- High focus on website optimization and scalability
Say it be choosing the features or the development option, in the end, your particular use case will be the crucial deciding factor. Different business domains and types will have different development requirements. Identify which features are vital to your booking platform, and then evaluate which option best addresses your feature requirement at a minimum price and maximum support.
However, as a thumb rule, you can consider that if you already have a website or business and are planning to integrate it with a booking platform—it's easier if you choose an online booking system. But, when you are building an online booking business from the ground up—custom development solutions are going to be your best bet.