There is a common misconception that only large enterprises need online booking systems. However, a robust online booking system is vital for small businesses.
Small and large businesses want to thrive and attract more customers and consumers. With the help of modern business practices, this goal can be accomplished.
As a business owner, seeking newer, more efficient technology solutions every day is vital. Nowadays, the task is simplified because of the wide selection of tools available on the market. Therefore, embracing the digital revolution is unquestionably a step in the right direction for our business, and long-term success will come from minor improvements in your work.
This blog post will discuss different types of online booking systems. Moreover, we will go over the benefits of using online booking systems. Finally, we will take a closer look at how to set up such a system and give you excellent tips on getting the most out of it.
Let’s get started.
Different types of online booking systems
Online booking systems are widely available on the market. Among them, there are two major types of bookings: direct bookings and indirect bookings.
#1 Direct bookings
Bookings made directly through your channels are known as direct bookings. An example of direct bookings are those collected through your website, by phone, or on a walk-in basis. Direct bookings eliminate all commissions, and you can capture more revenue while competing on price.
To increase direct bookings, you can do several things, such as creating booklets, advertising your website, conducting marketing campaigns, boosting your business’s social media presence, building up reviews, and applying word-of-mouth.
However, direct bookings also have some disadvantages that make them fall short. The biggest cons are that they are time-consuming, requiring lots of sales and marketing across multiple channels. Avoiding reliance on other platforms can slow your workflow. Additionally, if you are unfamiliar with some media, such as PPC advertising, then you can easily waste a lot of money.
Direct bookings can be divided into subtypes. Here are some of them
- Instant bookings are so-called guaranteed bookings where customers can choose the date and number of participants and pay directly.
- Pending bookings are so-called non-guaranteed bookings. A booking is created in awaiting status if a guest checks out without immediately paying (via credit card or PayPal). A time block has been set, but there is a deadline for receipt of payment.
#2 Indirect bookings
Apart from direct bookings and their subtypes, we also have indirect bookings.
Such bookings can be categorized as any booking made through a third party.
Indirect bookings allow the customer to capture a larger pool of bookings. Moreover, with indirect booking, you can simplify taking reservations anytime.
What else can such systems offer you?
Of course, convenience and the possibility of better earnings, and also increasing your work efficiency.
Now, let’s move on to the next point, where we will look at all the benefits of using an indirect online booking system for small businesses.
Benefits of using an online booking system for small businesses
Small businesses can benefit significantly from using an online booking system. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most noteworthy pros.
There are many reasons why online booking systems are convenient:
- They allow customers to book appointments or make purchases without contacting customer service.
- Online booking systems can be customized to meet the specific needs of each company, making them more efficient and intuitive.
- With online booking systems, businesses can track the preferences and trends of their customers, making the development of marketing strategies easier.
Efficiency combined with cost-effectiveness is one of its main benefits. Companies can automate several bookkeeping tasks with an online system, including appointment scheduling (running it 24/7), payments, and customer service. In addition, it can free up time so the business owner can focus on other aspects of running their business.
Small businesses are also attracted to online booking systems because they provide a professional appearance to customers. In addition, they come with various features that can make managing appointments and customers more accessible, such as reminders, confirmations, and follow-ups. Hence, the company becomes more prestigious.
Ensuring the protection of information is a necessity nowadays. Robust online booking systems back up all client data safely. This is why online booking systems give customers peace of mind guaranteeing that they’re securely storing their information and working with integrations (e.g. incident management tools or AWS log analytics).
How to set up an online booking system for your small business
As a small business owner, you may think you do not have the resources to invest in a fully-fledged online booking system. Nevertheless, booking spots online is not impossible for you to offer to your customers. Moreover, you can save time and make your life easier with several affordable and easy-to-use online booking tools.
Here is a quick list of what you need to do for your small business to implement an online booking system:
#1 Decide what’s important to you
It is crucial to consider your needs before selecting a tool. There are many different online booking tools available, so choosing one that fits well with your business’s operations is essential. Before making a final decision, you should also research and read reviews.
#2 Set up your account and profile
When you’ve selected an online booking tool, setting up your account usually doesn’t take long. As a first step, you will need to provide basic information about your business, including its name, address, contact information, etc. Afterward, you can customize various settings to suit your needs, such as a calendar with the availability of the spots, an automatic reminder and confirmation system, payment method, etc.,
#3 Create your listing
In the next step, you will need to create listings for each type of service you offer. You will include all the relevant information that potential customers need to know here. You should also specify a variable or fixed price for your services.
#4 Promote your online booking system
Use social media, email marketing, local advertising, etc., to let people know they can now book appointments online with you. There are several ways you can approach that. For example, add a book now button to your Facebook page and Instagram profile, or send an email or text message campaign. Of course, you can also handle it traditionally by implementing an eye-catching “Book Online” sign in your salon, spa, or clinic.
#5 Test it out
Finally, test everything thoroughly before giving it a thumbs up. Make a few appointments using different devices, browsers, etc., to familiarize yourself with the process. After everything works correctly, it’s time to enjoy your new way of managing reservations in your small business!
Tips on how to get the most out of your online booking system
After purchasing tools such as online booking systems, it is essential to understand what you can do with them and how you can use them for your business to thrive. Therefore, we want to share some of the most practical tips for boosting your workflow.
- Make sure your booking system is easy to navigate and user-friendly – test it on your own
- Always remember to send reminders via email or SMS to customers about their upcoming appointments. Taking this step will help reduce no-shows and improve customer satisfaction.
- Track customer interactions, including appointments booked through the online booking system. By doing so, you will gain valuable insight into your customers’ needs and preferences.
- Take advantage of automatic payments to streamline transactions and reduce accounting costs. Let your customers do the entire administrative work for you.
- Be optimistic and do not be shy to test new features available or demo versions of online booking systems.
- Customize your reservation page
- Take customer opinion into consideration. Improve your customer service and booking system using this feedback.
Calendesk as the best solution for small businesses
Online booking systems are available in a variety of forms on the market. However, one of the best for small businesses is Calendesk.
Calendesk is a complex online booking platform suitable for both more prominent companies as well as small businesses.
Our tool gives our customers multiple possibilities. Firstly we allow our clients to create any number of calendars with the possibility of sharing.
Then, by integrating our tool with external systems, you can streamline your work and increase its productivity. Zoom, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Zapier, and other applications integrate seamlessly to make work organization effortless and effective.
With Calendesk, there is no need to worry about unnecessary notifications. Furthermore, we give our customers the flexibility to have the database in one place, with the ability to group and filter all customers. Thanks to that, we managed to prevent no-shows. Instead, clients receive reminders about upcoming visits, and you can collect payments before the visit, create subscriptions, and send invoices, so you’re never left in the dark. We also provide our customers with a mobile up that you might want to check up on.
Moreover, Calendesk provides its customers with a free trial. The 14-day testing period lets you determine what plans you need and what functions you want to use. Entering your card details while subscribing to a free trial is not required. As a result, you won’t be charged if you forget to cancel your subscription after a few days.
As your business grows, Calendesk allows you to migrate between subscription plans if you need more features. As a result, you will not lose any money during the switch.
With all these features at hand, there is no doubt that Calendesk stands out from other online booking systems.
Many people prefer to book appointments or services online rather than over the phone or in person. It is because online reservation systems give them more convenience and are efficient. For this reason, using the direct booking method does not always pass its exam.
For your small business to flourish, it is good to consider purchasing an indirect booking system that can simplify the reservation process.
Setting up an online system isn’t a challenge. It is enough to make some adjustments, and the system is ready to function.
Robust online booking systems are beneficial in many ways, from saving time and money to providing a professional appearance to customers.