Beginner’s Guide to Online Booking and Appointment Software

The internet has fundamentally altered every aspect of running a business, and that includes the way we make and take bookings. Gone are the days in which customers would pick up the phone, pull out our diary and pick a date which worked for both parties.

In 2016, we book online through social networks, dedicated websites and third party comparison sites. Our calendars automatically update to reflect our booking and we’re instantly emailed a reminder of our upcoming bookings. Put simply, we’ve entered an age of overwhelming simplicity for the customer, but what about for the business?

If you’re interested in online booking systems but don’t know how booking works or any other detail around online booking, you’re in luck. In this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know in this beginners guide to online booking systems.

What is an online booking system?

Put simply, an online booking system is software which allows a potential customer to book and pay for an activity or service through your website. Advanced booking systems like ours also allow customers to book through social networks and even on their mobile phones, helping deliver bookings wherever your customers happen to be.

Online booking has grown rapidly to supersede traditional phone booking systems, which required members of staff to be on hand to take bookings and manage them manually.

How does an online booking system work?

An online reservation and booking system exists entirely within your website, and requires no installation from your customer to continue with their purchase.

A customer will land on your website and choose which activity or service they’d like to book, and then will click through to the booking page. At this stage, the customer will fill in a booking form. Custom forms can also be set, allowing you to harvest whatever information you require in order to complete the booking.

The customer will then give their card details to pay through a secure payment gateway, and the payment will be transferred to you. This information is displayed in our secure Content Management System, which is only accessible via a login and password, offering greater security than competing booking methods.

Are online booking payment secure?

Computerised booking systems are, on the whole, extremely secure. Gone are the dark days of the Internet where every transaction felt like it might be a scam, replaced instead by a broadly secure framework which supports consumers.

All transactions placed through BookingLive’s software are very space. Every payment gateway that we use is chosen to help keep payments secure and customers safe from fraud. That means the use of HTTPS and proprietary security protocols which ensure trust in your business is never eroded by unscrupulous scammers.

What payment methods do online booking systems accept?

BookingLive online booking software enables payments through a variety of methods, accepting all Visa and Visa Debit cards, credit cards and trusted online payment providers like PayPal and Google Wallet.

Which types of businesses can benefit from an OBS?

If your business, company or organisation takes bookings of any kinds, it too can benefit from an online booking and reservation system. The following are examples of businesses which we’ve helped implement successful online booking platforms:

  • Schools
  • Leisure centres
  • Gyms
  • Local government
  • Childcare providers
  • Activities companies
  • SMEs
  • Training providers
  • Tour operators

So, if you’re wondering what impact an online booking system has on your business, the answer is a huge one. Put plainly, if you’ve got a business that takes bookings and a website, you need to join an online booking system.

How much do online booking systems cost?

Online booking systems are cheaper than many imagine them to be, and are scalable for businesses, making them a compelling option for businesses of all sizes.

BookingLive software costs from £50 a month for companies with less than 100 transactions a month, that’s 50p per booking – an entirely reasonable cost given the time and effort you’ll save from manually managing your own bookings.

Do online booking systems take a cut of my bookings?

Many free online booking software platforms make their money by taking a hefty slice of your transaction in return for connecting you with your customer. At BookingLive, we never charge per transaction, instead working on a flat, fair rate that works for everybody.

Advantages of online booking software

Online booking software platforms have a huge number of potential benefits for businesses and consumers alike. Here are just a few examples:

  • Reduced number of man hours managing booking activity.
  • Centralised customer data for easy customer management.
  • Bookings can happen at any time, from anywhere in the world.
  • Reduced customer service requirements.
  • Instant payment, reducing the need to chase up on deposits or cheques.
  • Effortless integration with social networks and with coupon websites.
  • Bookings can be managed from a mobile device, perfect for small businesses
  • Simplified booking procedure for customers.

These are just a selection of the countless benefits an online booking platform can bring to your business.

Does my business need an online booking system?

By now, we’ve covered every aspect of online booking systems and answered many of the most commonly asked questions that are put to us on a near daily basis. However, we haven’t touched on perhaps the most vital of all – does my business need an online booking system?

bookingsystem

The simple answer is; if you have a business that takes bookings and you have a website, absolutely, yes. The big trend in e-commerce over the last five years has been simplification. Research has revealed that the more steps between your customer and their purchase, the less likely they are to go through with it.

By forcing your customer to book over the phone, you’re severely limiting the number of bookings you can receive, and in tough economic times, that’s an ill-advised position to take.

Getting started with an online booking system couldn’t be easier. Simply request a free demo from our team and we’ll work with you to help get you set up within 30 minutes. A dedicated member of our staff will be with you every step of the way and before you know it, you’ll be taking orders and managing customers online with ease.

Have more questions? Look at BookingLive’s frequently asked questions or contact us.