Today’s customers value the convenience of use, fast response time and intuitive UI of the systems they use when booking services online. At the same time, a solid, all-in-one online booking system can help business owners effectively streamline customer growth, enhance the internal operations and accelerate business ROI.
However, it’s not that simple to find a booking system that would meet all the specific requirements of a particular business. That’s why when thinking of launching a new online booking system project, companies should thoroughly think over every aspect of it.
In this article, we’ll get into the specifics of the existing web booking systems and explain how to develop an effective web-based booking system from scratch that would effectively meet your business requirements.
What is an Online Booking System?
An online booking system is a type of software aimed at accepting and scheduling bookings for various purposes such as tickets, restaurants, hotels, appointments, and other types of services. When booking services online, customers go to the application and schedule an available appointment.
Online booking systems can take different forms. It can be a stand-alone web booking system or a part of a huge enterprise system with numerous 3d party integrations or a mobile solution. Depending on the type of a booking system the functionality might vary as well as the option to choose a ready-made solution or to develop it from scratch.
Why Do You Need an Online Booking System?
Customers can always book an appointment or place an order by simply calling a company or doing it in person. Why do so many businesses opt for online booking systems then? Here are the main reasons for that:
- Enhanced customer experience – customers don’t have to dedicate much of their time to making an appointment. With online booking systems, everything can be done swiftly and on the go. Moreover, these systems are available round-the-clock. This means that customers don’t have to wait till your business starts its working day to arrange an appointment.
- Simple management – the systems can be easily integrated into the existing business environment. Your staff can easily track the available time slots or spaces, check the number of bookings made, and better organize their work based on this information.
- Enables upselling – the system can offer customers additional services or products that can well complement the booked services, e.g. upgrades in packages, booking extensions, or additional products.
- Detailed analytics – with a booking system you can easily track particular product and services demand, the most required specialists, the busiest days of the week, etc. Based on this information you can consider how to improve your services, make your marketing strategies more effective, and better streamline your operational efforts.
What Booking System is Right For Your Business
If you consider launching a new booking service, there are basically two options – to utilize a ready-made solution or opt for custom booking software development. Let’s have a look at each of these options in more detail.
Ready-Made Booking Solution
There is a wide range of ready-made booking systems each having its own features and customization options. Some of these solutions can be provided as stand-alone applications while others can be integrated into the existing software through APIs.
There are many examples of booking applications that you can find online and all of them serve different purposes. Look through some of them and consider which ones could effectively address your business aims. Not necessarily that one booking solution will incorporate all the required features, there may be several of them. Pay special attention to the ones that are used in your business niche.
Ready-made solutions are a great choice for businesses who need standardized booking features. Although further features enhancement and scalability can be hardly possible. This can happen when businesses grow their customer base or begin providing services that require additional features not supported by the existing booking system. In this case, businesses will have to find a software development company to make the enhancements or turn to the booking system provider for improvements at extra charge.
At the same time, ready-made booking systems are already tested by many companies, they are cost-effective and provided on monthly or yearly subscriptions. They are quick to launch and present to the stakeholder.
Custom Developed Solution
Those businesses who opt for custom booking system development usually have some special requirements to the system that ready-made solutions can’t cover.
Custom developed solutions are flexible in terms of scalability and customization. Apart from that, they are easily integrated into other systems, have improved customer experience as these systems are designed with the user in mind, and have a higher competitive advantage as they can offer unique features and functionality.
At the same time, developing a custom booking system can be a costly investment for many companies.
Main Features of the Booking System
When developing a custom booking system, software developers can add an extensive variety of features to the requested solution. Here is a list of the most widely used:
However, there is a set of must-have basic functionalities that allow for providing effective booking services. Let’s have a closer look at some of them.
- Customizable interface – it should be possible to simply customize the requested solution to the company’s brand image – add or change interface colors and design, simply manage application content, etc.
- Flexible appointment types – when scheduling an appointment, customers could choose among several appointment types, e.g. one-on-one or group meetings or other scheduling formats.
- Notifications – this simple feature will show your customers that you do care about their visit. A company can send SMS or email automated reminders about the appointments made.
- Integration with other services – it’s essential that the developed solution can simply integrate with other business software in the company. For example, this can be integrating with CRM systems, calendar tools, and so on.
- Advanced scheduling system – this system can include such functionality as adding buffer times so that the company employees can have breaks or change shifts, daily booking limits, and more.
- Time zone feature – this feature can be useful for international scheduling activities, e.g. it can automatically adjust to the user’s time zones or book several appointments