If you’re thinking about starting booking your appointments using an online booking platform, well done! Online booking will soon overtake other, slowly fading away booking methods, like booking through a phone call or in person. To be able to do it, though, you will need an online booking platform to manage and schedule your bookings, as well as take payments.
Choosing the right online booking platform can be a daunting task, that’s for sure. There are so many different options out there. How do you know which one will be the best for your business then? How to avoid choosing a provider that will most likely disappoint you? Well, that’s where we come in! In this blog post, we will explain what online booking is all about, share the most popular platforms, as well as tell you what features you should be looking for when choosing your perfect online booking platform. We talk about everything from integrations with other tools to customer support and more! Fasten your seatbelt, we’re starting now!
What is an online booking platform?
Let’s make sure you understand what online booking platforms actually are first. An online booking platform is essentially software that allows you to book your appointments online, completely cloud-based. They are also known as mobile integration platforms or online appointment scheduling systems and can be used by businesses of any size, whether they’re an individual therapist in need of some extra help with their practice management tools or the owner of a large, international company with hundreds or thousands of employees that needs more efficient ways to manage their staff’s meetings and other appointments.
Some examples of markets in which online booking is becoming more popular and desired now include wellness and health, gym, sports and personal trainers, spas and beauty salons, hair salons and even business coaching and mentoring.
Taking into consideration the broadness of usage of online booking platforms, it’s natural for you to want to join the gang too and get yourself a good and reliable platform as well. But where should you start your search? Let’s find out.
What are the most popular online booking platforms?
The online booking platforms market is very competitive, and new applications are constantly coming out to try and gain the top spot. The online booking market is currently dominated by just a few big, most recognized players, but there are some new applications that have been gaining popularity recently.
Sometimes it’s worth giving those smaller, slightly less popular providers a chance to show their best side and surprise you in the most positive way. Usually, those less recognized platforms turn out to be far more effective and less buggy, allowing you to be proud of having a business with an unscarred reputation. Let’s also not forget about how attractive budget-wise those solutions can be compared to their big whales-competitors.
One of the online booking platforms that we can recommend is Calendesk. It’s a fully cloud-based solution that will allow you to accept bookings from your customers, handle their payments instantly, contact them and even generate a landing page or even a whole website. Sounds interesting? We’ll cover more of what we have up our sleeves later on. But for now, let’s focus on the features you should be looking for in your ideal online booking platform.
What features should the best online booking platform have?
There are many online booking platforms that offer the same basic features, but sometimes there can be some key differences between them you should know how to spot. When it comes to choosing which online booking platform is right for you and your business, it’s important to consider what you need in scheduling software.
Start your search within your own business and ask yourself questions like:
- Do I need an online booking platform for my business
- Will my customers know how to use an online booking platform?
- Does my budget allow me to use an online booking platform?
- What features do I see my ideal booking platform with?
- How will an online booking platform impact my business, for example current employees?
Once you go through these questions in your mind and find the right answers, you can start looking for your perfect match.
Some of the most popular online booking features include:
– Real time or offline availability checker
– Unlimited service providers/clients/schedules – bulk editing capabilities
– Multiple languages available at no additional cost
– High customization in terms of branding (colours, own text, logo)
How do I choose from so many online booking options? Isn’t there just one best option out there? How will I know if a particular online booking system is actually good?
Knowing what features an online appointment system should have is just half of the battle – it also needs to fit into your workflow seamlessly as well as work with your existing applications without any hassle or extra unnecessary costs. Making sure that you find software that has everything that you need (and nothing else) takes time but pays off in the long term.
What factors to take into consideration when it comes to choosing the best online booking platform?
This is a difficult question to answer – there are so many factors that come into play when choosing which online booking platform would be best for you.
What should I look at when choosing the best online booking platform for my business? Let’s finally reveal the secrets:
First of all, you should always keep your budget in mind. Money matters when you’re running a business and you want it to be profitable. The bottom line is an important aspect of most companies and therefore, whenever you decide to invest in a new tool, you should be aware of the prices.
Consider how much you’re willing to spend on such a platform. Then, do your own research and take a look at pricing plans of various providers – those most popular ones, as well as smaller (but still reliable and reputable) platforms.
Checking with more than just a few platforms will allow you to get a better understanding of the market and what normal prices look like. After all, you surely don’t want to overspend or pick a cheap tool that won’t deliver and will only cause problems.
Our next recommended thing to look at is, of course, the variety of features and attractive integrations a particular tool can offer you. When it comes to online booking platforms, the list can go on and on.
Think about features like email, SMS and push notifications, newsletter, Google calendar, instant payments upfront, 24/7 appointment booking, customization possibilities and more. All of that plays an important role in ensuring that your booking system will be effective, pleasurable to use and good-looking. Do pay close attention to this aspect when you start looking at various offers.
#3 Customer support
It’s also important to consider whether or not you will be able to rely on your online booking platform provider once you hit that ‘pay’ button and pay for the invoice.
You can pick a reliable and good provider with an easy user-interface, but still encounter issues during the implementation process that you or the provider simply won’t have control over. For example, it could be that you will need to update your computer to manage the platform and access all the features, including premium ones. This is when individual technical support from your provider comes in very handy.
During your hunt for the best online booking platform, make sure you double check if extra support will be available within the subscription model that you decide to pick. It’s an extremely important feature to have as a lot of the time, it can help you save a meeting for example, or even a whole customer!
For example, with Calendesk’s Standard plan, you can expect to have access to individual technical support, along with other attractive benefits and additional features.
#4 UX – is it simple to use?
User experience is another key aspect of your perfect online booking platform. Your platform should not only be easy to use for you, but most importantly, for your users – clients and customers. This is specifically important when you, for example, have customers that may not be digital natives and therefore need simple solutions that won’t be too confusing for them.
Check your potential choices’ reviews online, especially from people like your customers. You must find out in advance whether or not the whole process will be simple.
Will it be possible to integrate the platform with tools you’re already familiar with? Integrations have many benefits. They save time, cost, allow for a smoother workflow and help stay organized. What’s there not to like?
Many big online booking platforms aren’t perfect when it comes to integrations or lack this aspect entirely. Luckily for you, going for a less mainstream and commercialized option will save you the time you would spend worrying about this, because integrations are like everyday bread for them.
#6 Impact on your business
Every step you make for (or against) your company will always have an impact on it – smaller or bigger. When you decide to start scheduling your meetings mostly online, this could affect your business in a few ways actually.
First of all, depending on your current scheduling method, it could be that your receptionist will no longer be needed to work full-time. Instead, you could come to the conclusion that a part-time position at your company would suit them better since a major part of her current duties (scheduling appointments) will become automated.
Second of all, a good online booking system will surely give you more exposure online and will lead to people recommending your brand to their friends and family with just a click. This will be perfect marketing for your business.
Lastly, having a 24/7 booking option will result in more scheduled meetings and will positively affect your sales. What’s there not to like?
Last but not least, implementation! You’re going to have to implement the tool somehow, right? One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based solutions is that usually, they don’t require much time dedicated strictly to implementation.
Implementation and configuration of your online booking platform shouldn’t take longer than 1 hour. It’s really not that difficult to make, especially when you pick a solution like Calendesk. Moreover, this is how you can distinguish between experienced and inexperienced providers. Experienced teams work fast and deliver high quality value quickly – no questions asked.
Still looking for your answer?
You’ve reached the end of this article. We hope that you can confidently say you’re richer in insightful and valuable knowledge now. You’re now fully prepared to begin your hunt for the best online booking platform out there.
Remember about our tips and everything will go smoothly, there’s no doubt about that!
Online booking can change the way you do business forever and we’re lucky to be the one advising you on how to pick the right path.
If you found this article interesting, make sure to check out our blog section, where we talk more about online booking, customer service, the importance of websites for businesses and more.
Moreover, if you’re in front of a decision to choose a good and reliable online booking service, we recommend you give Calendesk a try. We value good customer experience and aim to build a platform that will be everything you could possibly wish for – for the most convenient price.
Thank you for your attention and see you in our next blog post!