How to Build a Time-Saving Appointment and Event Booking Website

Want to build an appointment and event booking website that gives your clients more time to do business than handle the logistics of it? The Amelia WordPress booking plugin is the answer.
Amelia_featured

For service-based businesses that take customers by appointment as well as those that host events, it’s crucial to find a booking system that takes the work out of manually managing bookings.

That’s why businesses are looking to web designers to provide a convenient and efficient replacement solution.

In order to build an appointment and event booking website for clients, you’re going to need to use the right tools for the job. In this post, we’re going to explore what the most common pains are in appointment and event scheduling and provide you with various solutions for each.

How to Build a Time-Saving Appointment and Event Booking Website

Here’s the good news: There are plenty of software solutions and WordPress plugins you can use to do this.

Here’s the bad news: Some of these solutions may still create issues for your clients when forms break, their business accidentally gets overbooked, or customers can’t figure out how to schedule anything. And you’re going to have to help them fix these issues.

If you want to build a truly flawless appointment and event booking website in WordPress that makes everyone happy — your client, their customers, and you — then you’ll need tools like the Amelia booking plugin to do that.

Let’s take a look at how building an appointment and event booking website can be a complex task, but using the right system and tools can make light work of it all.

Pain #1: Hands-on appointment and event booking takes too much time

The old way of managing bookings is chock full of problems:

  • It’s time-consuming — not just capturing booking details but handling appointment confirmations, reschedules, and cancellations.
  • It’s not uncommon to incorrectly capture names, phone numbers, and other pertinent contact information.
  • It’s easy to forget to build a breathing room between back-to-back appointments or events.
  • It’s impossible to be available 24/7, which can discourage some customers from booking at all.
  • Typically, only one person at a time can book an appointment by phone or email, leaving the rest waiting around until it’s their turn.
  • It’s difficult to process prepayments over the phone, which means extra time spent handling payments when customers arrive on site.

There’s no reason for your clients to manually manage these tasks when it can be automated.

Here’s what you can do to relieve this pain for them:

Solution 1: Use an online scheduling tool

There are a number of freemium scheduling solutions that allow you to add an appointment and event booking system into a WordPress website. Calendly and Doodle are two of the most popular options.

With these scheduling tools, you create the booking system outside of WordPress, filling in all pertinent details about the one-time or recurring event like this example from Calendly:

You have complete control over:

  • When customers can book appointments
  • How far in advance they can do so
  • Which contact details or answers they need to provide before booking
  • Whether prepayment is required or not

You can also create confirmation pages, follow-up emails, and reminders, too. All you need to do now is help your clients get this into the hands of customers.

While they can easily share a link to this calendar, you can also embed it using the provided code:

The only catch with this is that you don’t have any control over the calendar’s design or how well it fits on a page. So, it may stick out from the rest of the design you’ve so carefully crafted.

Solution 2: Use Amelia’s end-to-end automation inside WordPress

If you want a booking system that more seamlessly navigates with your website, the Amelia booking plugin would be a good choice. 

What’s especially nice about using Amelia is that you don’t have to compromise on anything either. Every possible point of friction has been thought through.

For instance:

This is the Amelia menu in WordPress. There are separate menus which allow you to:

  • View all bookings on the calendar.
  • Review, modify, and add appointments.
  • Create new events.
  • Add employees that customers can directly book services with.
  • Create new services.
  • Add locations so that appointments can be booked on one website for a multi-location business (or for booking events off-site).
  • Manage customer data and appointment history.
  • Monitor revenue earned from appointments and events.
  • Brand the appointment and event scheduler so it seamlessly blends with the rest of the site.

The Settings menu allows you to automate your appointment and event booking website even further.

For instance, you can block days off, company holidays, and non-operational hours. You can give employees control over their individual availability as well. This ensures that your booking calendar is always the most up-to-date.

There’s other functionality within Amelia that’s going to take your booking system to the next level, but we’ll look at more of those examples throughout this post.

Pain #2: The wrong kind of form causes more work for you in the end

There are so many different kinds of appointments and events that each really deserves a custom form so that only the most necessary questions are asked.

While you could build this out using an external form (like one built with Google Forms), you’d be missing key functionality that allows you to design a fully automated booking website.

Here’s what you can do to relieve this pain for them:

Solution 1: Use a contact form plugin with premade booking templates

Every WordPress website needs a contact form plugin. If you’d like to keep the look of your forms consistent from page to page, you might want to see if your contact form comes with booking templates.

For instance, Caldera Forms comes with a simple booking form template:

Ninja Forms, on the other hand, has a more complex booking template available:

You can always use your contact form plugin to build a custom appointment or event booking form. However, it’ll require an upgrade to Pro and will be limited by the plugin’s features. In many cases, contact forms don’t come with features like file uploads, payment collection, or date selection.

So, it could restrict what you’re able to build.

Solution 2: Use Amelia to build custom forms for your appointments and events

With Amelia, you can build a custom booking solution based on the kinds of appointments or events available. 

For instance, you may want to start by creating a filterable search form like this:

In this example, customers use the search form to look for a specific kind of service or they can use the calendar and filters on the left to narrow down results for a wider variety of options.

This would actually be a valuable tool to have for any kind of booking site you build. What’s going to differ, however, is the way that they actually book their appointments.

For instance, with something like fitness classes, your form might want to ask the question, “Bringing anyone with you?”

On the other hand, a medical provider might be more concerned with getting the patient to book their appointment slot while it’s still available.

You might also want your form to do the following before an appointment or event can be booked:

  • Accept prepayment online.
  • Upsell them on an additional service.
  • Process a coupon code.
  • Upload a file (like a PDF or image).

With Amelia, you can pick and choose which of these settings is necessary from appointment to appointment. 

Pain #3: Someone still needs to transfer data from one platform to another

When you build a booking system inside a WordPress site, you’re going to relieve your clients of a lot of manual labor. However, a booking system isn’t the only tool they’re using in the process.

Whether they want to connect to a CRM, email marketing platform, Google apps, or other software, what can you do to simplify their booking-related tasks even more?

Here’s what you can do to relieve this pain for them:

Solution #1: Use Zapier or IFTTT to make the connection

Zapier and IFTTT are task automation software. Both seamlessly integrate with WordPress as well as the other business applications.

You have the option of using a premade integration, like this Zapier connection that turns WordPress users (people who signed up for an appointment) into MailChimp subscribers:

Or you could build a custom and more complex integration from-scratch. It all depends on which software your clients use to manage their booking steps and what sort of gaps exist in the workflow within WordPress.

Solution 2: Use Amelia’s native integrations and web hooks

With Amelia, you can integrate your website’s booking system with other software right from within the plugin. 

One thing you can do is connect employees’ Google calendars to Amelia:

You’ll accomplish the following with this:

  • Customers will only be able to book appointments with specific employees when they’re available.
  • Appointments and events will automatically be added to the employees’ calendars.

Then, there’s the matter of collecting prepayments:

In payment settings, you can enable WooCommerce or connect PayPal or Stripe to process those prepayments.

You can use Amelia’s Web Hooks settings to send scheduling data to another tool, too:

Whether you want to export customer data to a CRM or start building an email list in your newsletter software, web hooks will automate those tasks for you and your clients.

Pain #4: There are too many factors that can disrupt how smoothly appointments are handled

With a simple booking system, appointments will get slotted in one after another. But appointment and event booking is much more complicated in reality.

Appointments run over, people are no-shows, service providers go on holiday.

You need a system that can account for the subtle intricacies of booking appointments and events, so you and your clients aren’t having to spend time fixing issues in the schedule.

Here’s what you can do to relieve this pain for them:

Solution 1: Bring in an assistant to manage incoming appointments

While you won’t actually have a hand in hiring someone for your client, you can explain the reasons why an assistant might be necessary.

For example, traditional booking systems and contact form plugins might not allow for breathing room in your clients’ calendar. An assistant, however, would remember that there needs to be 15 minutes of setup/cleanup time built around every appointment.

This would definitely help reduce the number of overbookings due to appointments running late.

That said, an assistant (on site or virtual) is still a paid employee and can quickly become expensive for a business to maintain. Then, there’s the matter of human error and limitations on how much one person can handle on their own that may pose a problem.

When a business is new, a contract or virtual assistant could be very helpful in managing bookings. As a business grows, though, they’ll need your help building a more complex and automated system to handle it all.

Solution 2: Use Amelia’s smart features to cut down on scheduling mishaps

With Amelia, there are smart features built into event and service setup along with general settings for the plugin. 

These features will make it very difficult for customers to book appointments or events that aren’t available or at times that are inconvenient for your client. This’ll greatly reduce your client’s need to step in and catch errors ahead of time or to fix unfortunate situations in real time.

For example, in Amelia you can limit how far in advance customers can book or cancel appointments: 

This ensures that your client has enough time to plan for upcoming appointments while also having enough of a heads-up to fill cancelled slots.

You can also use the limits provided when setting up each event and appointment:

Capacity limits keep your clients’ classes, programs, and events from overcrowding. And buffer times give them a chance to set up and clean up between sessions. It’s also useful in case customers run late or an appointment runs over.

Pain #5: Customers need help rescheduling and cancelling appointments

One last thing you can do to make your clients’ lives easier is to hand some of the responsibility over to their customers to manage their bookings.

You’ll do this by empowering them to:

  • Update their contact details.
  • Reschedule for another date, time, or with another provider.
  • Cancel.

But will your customers want to take ownership of these schedule changes? If you make it easy enough for them, they certainly will.

Here’s what you can do to relieve this pain for them:

Solution 1: Include cancel/reschedule links in customers’ emails

Some of the external scheduling tools we’ve seen today (like Calendly and Doodle) allow you to add Reschedule and Cancel buttons to customer emails.

In Calendly, this feature is included with other Notifications settings:

Similar to the rest of these tools, however, you won’t have control over what the messages say or where the links are placed in the emails. Calendly takes care of it for you.

But you will have the peace of mind knowing that customers can manage their own appointments while keeping your clients’ email inboxes and phones from becoming congested with reschedule and cancellation requests.

Solution 2: Activate Amelia’s customer appointment control settings

Customer controls like rescheduling and cancelling appointments aren’t automatically included in your Amelia-built booking system, so you’ll need to remember to activate it.

You’ll find it under Roles Settings:

Not only will customers be able to manage their customer profile and appointments on the page of your website, but it’ll make rebooking appointments in the future much easier as all their information will be saved.

Another setting that’s going to help with this is email and SMS notifications.

With these pre-written notification emails and text messages, both customers and employees will always know when appointments are coming up. These timely reminders help cut down on no-shows as well as last-minute bookings.

Bottom line: By providing customers with a way to update the details of their appointments, your clients can focus on the actual appointments and events rather than the logistics of scheduling them.

An appointment and event booking system that’ll revolutionize business

No one wants to have to manage booking their own appointments and events. And if you leave your clients to half-baked scheduling solutions, your workload and headaches are only going to increase too.

Instead, it’s best to find one tool and system that works. That’ll keep your clients from losing money because appointments can’t be booked and you from losing their trust. Plus, it means more time actually serving customers rather than trying to repair things all the time.
While there are a number of solutions that can help ease the pain of creating and managing a booking website, the Amelia WordPress booking plugin checks off all the boxes.

Tagged with:

Stay up to date with the latest web design and development news and relevant updates from Codrops.

CSS Reference

Learn about all important CSS properties from the basics with our extensive and easy-to-read CSS Reference.

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or intermediate, start learning CSS now.