Last updated - February 24, 2020
WooCommerce Bookings provide great scope to run a successful eCommerce website. Industries like travel and hospitality really depend a lot on online travel agencies (OTAs) for their online presence and continued business. Analyzing the strategies of some of these OTAs and booking sites would help you with great insights. And, if you can adopt some of these to your booking strategy, you might be up for a profitable time. WooCommerce has an awesome set of extensions that help you with bookings strategies for all kind of businesses. In this article, let us look into some of the effective strategies that you can try out if you are running a WooCommerce bookings site.
How to create a successful WooCommerce bookings site?
As you know, selling physical goods is not the only way you can manage a successful eCommerce store. If you come up with some innovative strategies for your bookings based site, you may be able to get well ahead of your competitors. Your business ideas may range from giving an option to customers to book an appointment for a service to reserving a hotel or event space. Whatever booking based idea you are focusing on, you need to make sure to keep in mind a few guidelines. Here is a look at some of the fundamental aspects that will help you ensure customer satisfaction and conversions.
Keep multiple products or options separately
When you are running a bookings based site, you may have multiple products or services. It is really important to keep these products separately with individual pages for each. Your bookable product or service might vary a lot. These might be a range of services that you offer spa treatments. You may have a range of rooms available as a homestay option. Or, you may have a range of training sessions that vary in length and content. Whatever be the range of products or services in your store, you need to display them separately.
There are multiple reasons why experts insist on this. First of all, it provides the necessary clarity for potential customers to distinguish between your site’s varied products. In addition, you get the better scope to market a premium property or service more effectively. Unique copy and visual elements will provide individuality to all your products. Moreover, when your site becomes richer with unique content, it helps in your page rankings as well with improved SEO.
Now, sometimes it might be a better idea to display different offerings side by side. This will provide an option for customers to compare features and choose accordingly. It is always better to create a separate page for this purpose with links leading to each individual product.
Pricing should be clear to users
There is a tendency among business owners to not publish the rate of the product or service they are offering. Expert opinion is that this is coming from a fear of competitors undercutting you by offering a lower quote. Not publishing price would probably work in some niche field where there is not much choice for customers. However, in most other fields your potential customers would find ample options to go for, if not happy with the way you are hiding pricing information.
Moreover, customers, these days are mostly impatient. They must be considering multiple factors at the same time before making a purchase decision. The price, being one of the most important determinants in a purchase decision, if absent, might disappoint your potential customers. A certain percentage of users might use your contact form or give you a call. But you are going to miss a good share of probable customers right on your product page.
The transparency about pricing should actually be able to portray a certain self-assurance about your business. Only very few businesses have thrived on the price factor alone. So it is quite important that you identify the differentiating factors of what your business is offering. Once that is done, you can effectively focus on those factors to create an identity for your business. Price is only one of the components, and if what you are offering is something valuable, customers would happily pay for it.
Provide accurate information regarding products or services
If your customers are booking appointments for services, you may have to be really accurate with timings. For example, if customers are booking an appointment for a spa treatment, they would expect you to keep the time. The timings displayed should be accurately maintained, otherwise, your business is going to get a bad reputation. If the service personnel is taking a lunch break, care should be taken to not allow booking at that time. You definitely don’t want an angry customer waiting for the personnel and then leaving a bad review. Similarly, you might be making changes in your scheduled hours for various reasons. You need to ensure that you change the timings on the website accordingly.
Same way, any terms and conditions that are not obvious should be presented in a way that customers would notice. Otherwise, you might be creating false expectations, and consequently, conflicts. Think in terms of your customers, and you will be able to ensure a great user experience on your store.
Let customers choose what they want
Customers of the current eCommerce landscape really don’t prefer going back and forth. What they are looking for is to instantly able to choose something they want at the moment and then forget about it. Your booking window should be able to let them do just that. Whatever information they need to complete the booking without hassles should be presented in a well thought out manner. There are multiple tools that would help you in developing such awesome interfaces. A little bit of creativity and a lot of analysis and customer-centric thinking would get you there.
Thankfully, if you are running a WooCommerce store, there are efficient tools like this one to help you set a flawless booking site. It helps you create bookings based on date or time as a unique product type. You can use it for a variety of business options including renting out hotels or event spaces, taking appointments, or offering services. You can also make the whole experience more personal for customers using certain other tools. WooCommerce Product add-ons would help customers to personalize their bookings as they wish. Same way, additional checkout fields are another option you can try to make the customer experience exceptional.
Automate emails to confirm and remind
Once a customer makes a booking with your site, it is quite important to send an email confirming the booking. You may need to include some essential information in the email so that the customer stays informed. Similarly, you can set a reminder email, when the booking date is nearing. This would help customers to ensure their schedule is flowing smoothly. Moreover, if they need to make any last minute arrangements, they should be able to make those after the reminder mail. MailChimp integration for WooCommerce is your best bet to automate your email strategy.
Focus on reviews
Product reviews are a differentiating factor in conversions. Potential customers pay a lot of attention to reviews and a vast majority say they consider reviews an essential factor to make a decision. It is also important to maintain transparency with your reviews. For example, if your site has only positive reviews, customers may not necessarily trust those. More importantly, how much real the reviews on your site sound will be more of a determining factor for conversions. Moreover, you can creatively highlight favorable reviews or customer testimonials to get more attention. Here are a few options to get ahead with your WooCommerce product review strategy.
How WooCommerce Bookings Plugins Work?
They work somewhat like a subscription plugin – a new product type is created for bookings. Your customers can book a time or date that is available on your website for an appointment or a service. The plugin makes sure that both customers and business owners are able to find an agreeable time for the booking. The business owner can update all the dates and times he/she wants to make available for bookings. And, the customers can choose according to their convenience. Customers can also choose the number of people attending the session. You can choose whether to approve the request instantly or confirm the booking at a later stage.
Best WooCommerce Bookings Plugins
There are quite a few awesome plugins that you can use to set up appointments and bookings on your WooCommerce store. Here is a compilation of some of the best ones.
Naturally, WooCommerce’s own bookings extension is one of the most popular ones in its category. The extension is perfect for stores that deal with bookings of events, services, and rental facilities. WooCommerce Bookings extension creates specialized booking products in your store, which lets customers book according to their convenience.
With this plugin, you will have the option to create fixed time slots for bookings or let customers decide how they want it. You can filter and update all the bookings on your site as well as available time slots from your store’s admin side. It facilitates bookings for multiple people, and this can help in setting up discount offers based on the number of people. When your customers can automatically create a booking from the front-end of your site, you can do the same manually. For example, if a customer chooses to call and request a booking, you can easily book from the admin side.
Great control for store owners
The plugin offers you great control to devise a booking strategy that is aligned with your operational blueprint. You will also get control to fix a cost based on the bookings, time slot, number of customers, etc. Also, the extension gives an option to allow instant approval for customer bookings or approve later from the back end. However, you should know that if you keep approval for later, the plugin generates the invoice only after you confirm the booking. In addition, the plugin sends email notifications on booking requests, confirmations and reminders.
Resources and add-ons for better convenience
You can create extra resources for each of your bookable product. For example, for a hotel room booking, you can provide an option for customers to choose whether they want a single or double room. The plugin provides an option to create resources that can be modified only from the back end. Spas and salons can effectively make use of this feature if they want to assign a masseuse or hairdresser for each booking. The plugin creates a buffer period between two bookings. For example, if you don’t want to allow any bookings on a specific time slot, you can easily set a buffer period. There is also an Accommodation Bookings add-on, which you can use to add check-in/check-out times, weekend special rates, etc.
You can purchase the WooCommerce Bookings subscription at $249 for a single site subscription, and $299 & $449 for 5 and 25 sites respectively. You will get one year of updates and support along with the purchase.
The YITH booking plugin is created to maintain a simplistic approach to booking management. It will help you immensely to optimize your booking schedules so that you can improve your business and operational ability. It integrates with your WooCommerce store effortlessly and helps you offer a hassle-free booking system for your customers. The range of professional services you can offer with this plugin is really huge. You can create a booking system for healthcare professionals, spas, salons, business consultants, travel packages, estate agents, etc.
According to the choice of your customers, the plugin will dynamically create booking requests, and payments can be made instantly. The plugin also offers an effective booking management on the back end, where you can easily search and filter bookings. You can set a minimum and maximum duration for your bookings using this plugin. You can choose to approve bookings immediately or choose a later time for the site admin to confirm it.
Great added features
If you are looking to set up a hotel booking site, this plugin integrates with Google APIs to set a location. You can even display the location on an embedded google map as well. It also provides an option to set varied rates based on the time of the booking, or number of guests. You can actually manage the prices on a global level with YITH Booking plugin. For example, if you want to add an extra charge to all your bookable products on a particular day, you can easily set it up. You can also add options to enter check-in check-out times, and any extra services that customers require. For example, if a hotel wants to charge a parking fee, customers who need parking can select that while booking.
Similar to the WooCommerce plugin, this one too allows creating bookings on the admin side on behalf of a customer. Also, you can organize and plan accepted bookings by using a calendar. If you have varied types of bookings on your site, you should offer an option to the users to effectively search for relevant bookings. For this, you can create and display customized search forms on your site. If you want to allow cancellations, you can set that up with a time period during which customers can cancel.
You can purchase this plugin for a price of $179 for a single site license. If you are looking for a 5-site license, you can get it for $299. For a license of up to 30 sites, you need to pay $499. You will get one year of updates and support with the license.
This plugin, created by Tyche Softwares helps to create booking on your site, which your customers can choose without leaving your website. Hotel reservations, service appointments, tour packages, and rental facilities can all be set up for booking using this plugin. Basically, you can create booking based on date or time.
The one marked advantage of this plugin is that you can link bookings to any other WooCommerce product that exists on your site. These include simple, grouped, variable, bundled and composite products. You can choose to opt for dynamic and special prices according to your business strategies. For example, set a higher rate, when the date of appointment is too close to the date of booking. Or, set a lower rate when there is a booking for a large group.
Throughout the checkout process, your customers can view the booking details, and if needed they can change the details on the Cart and Checkout pages. It also offers a two-way sync to Google calendar – customers’ and store owners’. You can display a booking calendar in a language that is preferred by most of your customers. This plugin will cost you $119.
Unlike most of the other plugins in the list, this one does not create a specialized booking product. Instead, it adds a start date and an optional end date on the product page, so that you can create a booking plan. Price will be calculated based on a daily, weekly or custom period according to the nature of the service or facility you are offering. The calendar option to input a date and time are particularly simple and user-friendly.
This plugin is available for free download on WordPress plugin directory and obviously, have only the basic features. However, if you want to extend the functionalities of this plugin, there are several add-ons available for purchase. Add-ons are available for stock management, discounts based on duration, disabling specific dates and special pricing. Add-on pricing starts from €25.
Now, let us look at some example scenarios where you can use WooCommerce Extension to create a successful WooCommerce Bookings store.
How to create a bookings website for your rental space?
One of the basic use cases of this plugin would be to create a bookings for a rental space. For example, you have a room that you want to rent out for events with a maximum size of 50 people. You may have a set of parameters to set this booking.
- The space is available on all days of the week from 10:00 to 22:00 except Sundays.
- On Sundays, the availability is only from 15:00 to 22:00.
- Each booking can be for a minimum duration of 4 hours and a maximum duration of 12:00 hours.
- The rate is $5 per hour, and if the booking is for 12 hours, it is $4 per hour.
- The maximum number of people attending should be 50.
- Customers should be able to opt for additional options like audio visual equipment, food and drinks, floral decoration, etc.
First, you can create the event space as a bookable product, just like any other WooCommerce product. In the product settings, you set it to allow your customers to pick the booking duration.
In the Availability option, you can set the time range specifying the availability of the space. For example, on Sundays it is not available from 10:00 to 15:00. So you can make that time slot not bookable. If you want to make any other dates not bookable, you can do these in the settings page.
Now, how to add the additional services associated with the event space booking?
For this, you need to get another extension which is fully compatible with WooCommerce Bookings.
You can create additional product details along with the main product. It offers different fields for you to let customers choose what they want to add. This plugin supports different fields like text input area, checkboxes, radio button, select boxes, etc. You can also create a required field, or give an option to customers to upload a file as attachment.
You can purchase the Product Add-ons extension from the WooCommerce marketplace at $49 for a single site subscription. 5-site subscription and 25-site subscription would cost $79 and $149 respectively.
This extension will help you add additional options for the event space, such as audio visual equipment, food and drinks, floral decoration, etc. You can set a specific price for each of the options. When the customer selects any additional product, it will be added to the order.
How to create a booking site that offers entry to a tourist site?
Another common scenario where you can use the WooCommerce Bookings plugin is when you want to create a site that offers entry tickets to a tourist site. The criteria for this would be:
- The place will be open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00. Mondays closed.
- You want to charge different rate for visitors – Adults ($10), Seniors($5), Students ($5), Children ($3), etc.
- Special discounted rates on weekends, and public holidays.
- Bookings should be closed for a day when the number of visitors reach 200 on a particular day.
- Visitors should carry a copy of the booking receipt with a barcode to gain entry to the site.
You can create a bookable product, that has fixed blocks of days. Now on the ‘Availability’ section, you can restrict the number of bookings per day to 200. And, make Mondays not available for bookings.
Then you can add the reduced price for weekends and public holidays in the ‘Costs’ section.
After that, you can set the varied rate for different visitors under the ‘Persons’ section. You can create different options like Adult, Senior, Student, Children, etc., by clicking the Add Person Type button.
Now, you need your visitors to print and carry the booking receipt to gain entry at the venue. How will you do it? There is another plugin to your rescue.
This plugin helps you generate a unique barcode for every order placed on your site. The barcode will be auto-generated when an order or booking is made on your store. And, you can send it in the order completion mail that goes to customers. You get to choose the type of barcode you want to generate too. It includes three barcode types that need a standard USB barcode scanner. Two other types, Data Matrix and QR code, works with digital scanners and mobile devices.
You can purchase the single site subscription of this plugin from WooCommerce marketplace at $79. 5-site license is $129, and 25-site license is $179.
When the visitors are at the gate, you can quickly scan the barcode or QR code to verify their bookings.
How to set up the website of a hairdressing salon?
Now, let’s look at the possibilities of setting up a hair salon’s website. Let’s say the salon is open from 09:00 to 20:00 every day. And, there are 5 different stylists, which customers can choose based on their preference.
Here’s how you can do it.
You can use the WooCommerce Bookings plugin to create five different resources corresponding to each stylist. The Available Quantity of the resource will be set to 1. Now, you can set the availability of the salon based on its opening hours. In this example, the opening hours is the same for all days of the week.
After this, you can create the Appointment as a bookable product. Booking duration will be a fixed block of one hour. You can add each of your stylists in the Resources section by clicking Add/link resource button. Then, set the availability and cost of each resource. On the front end, your customers will be able to choose a specific stylist, and a time block of their choice.
How to create a gym membership with specific activities that members can choose?
This is somewhat a complex case, and you will need multiple plugins to handle this. Here is the criteria.
You want to sell gym memberships, and offer special activities like zumba or pilates for members. Here’s how we can do it.
In addition to WooCommerce Bookings, you will need two other plugins to achieve this scenario
This plugin will help you create memberships for customers based on a product they purchase. You can find the best use for it when used along with Subscriptions plugin, where a recurring charge is deducted for the membership. The membership will be active for the customers as long as the subscription is alive for them. The plugin costs $79 on the WooCommerce marketplace for a single site subscription. 5-site subscription is $99 and 25-site is $199.
This is one of the most popular WooCommerce extensions. It helps you create subscription products on your site, for which you can charge a recurring fees. You can offer free trial periods and charge upfront sign up fees too. It also helps to create variable subscriptions, where your customers can choose from multiple subscription plans. Your customers will also have the freedom to upgrade or downgrade a subscription plan according to their choice. It helps a lot in creating a steady, recurring income on your site. Moreover, it helps you achieve innovative business models by combining with other plugins.
A single site license of WooCommerce subscriptions would cost you $199. 5-site license is $249 and 25-site is $399.
Managing the gym membership and additional activities
First, you need to create a Group for all the members who will subscribe to the gym membership. This is to help and create restricted access for them for additional activities they choose. On the Capabilities section of the Groups plugin, you can create a new capability as ‘Gym membership’. You need to add this to your WordPress site by accessing Groups from the navigation panel.
Now, you can create a new subscription product, and set a price for it – for example $100 per month. In Product Data metabox, you will have the option to select the corresponding group for the subscription. You can select the gym membership group created earlier.
So, now any of your customers who purchases the subscription product, ‘Gym membership’ will get access to the group as well.
The WooCommerce Bookings plugin comes into picture when you want to include additional activities like zumba dancing or yoga to the gym membership. You can create these bookable products, and set a booking duration, available days, and price. Under the field, Enforce read access, you can choose the ‘Gym membership’ group. This will make sure that only members who have subscribed to the gym membership will be able to view these additional activities created by the Bookings plugin.
What are the advantages of using WooCommerce Booking Plugins?
Booking plugins actually solve multiple business problems. They help in bringing more revenue through bookings on your site and simultaneously offer options to manage them better. Here are some of the obvious advantages of using WooCommerce Booking plugins.
Convenience for both customers and store owners
If you are running a business based on booking or appointment, traditionally you would have to create a call center and accept bookings from the customer. However, booking an appointment is always a time-consuming affair for customers. And many times customers need to make multiple phone calls before confirming one. And in most cases, customers would want to call in for an appointment or service later on in the day or after work. It is not easy to be available all the time on the phone and be ready to accept bookings. With WooCommerce, you can easily create a store and accept bookings and appointments all the time. Any time of the day. It offers great convenience for both customers and store owners so that you can easily bypass time constraints and long telephone conversations.
Scope to organize your bookings better
In addition, booking extensions help you organize your business better. Chances of missing appointments, double bookings, multiple calendar entries, misplaced notes are all a thing of the past. These plugins offer a streamlined process to ensure that your business is running smoothly always.
Keep the booking strategy under your control
Furthermore, you will have better control on the way you are handling the appointments. With the help of these plugins, you can plan your calendar well ahead and display the available timings accordingly. You create a block of time for a session so that customers can opt for one or multiple blocks for their bookings. Overbooking too can be avoided if you set a maximum limit for the number of blocks that can be booked.
Manage breaks better
It also gives the flexibility to choose not to offer a service or facility for a period of time. For example, if your sports facility is closed for renovation for two weeks, you can easily disable bookings for that period. This way customers will clearly know it’s just a temporary thing and they can book a later available date.
You can make it fully automated or confirmation required according to your convenience. For example, a spa can allow customers to book an appointment to pay online for the available slots. Now customers can just show up for their spa session at the available time slot with no hassles. Ironically, customers may take some time to adjust to this sort of simple process as well. But once they are familiar with your business and the hassle-free process, there are chances for long-term associations with your customers.
A few strategies to attract more customers to your WooCommerce bookings site
You may need to run quite a few marketing campaigns to gain interest in your store and services. To get an initial traffic surge to your site, you may have to depend on multiple channels simultaneously. An analysis of booking.com’s strategies during their peak popularity period shows a combined effort from multiple channels contributed to their huge traffic. These channels include paid searches, referrals, email campaigns, social media initiatives, etc. A valuable insight about their strategy is that they used different strategies at different time periods. This even includes targeting particular cities when their popularity seems to be increasing in the travel circles. Though it is nearly impossible to emulate the huge success of booking.com, you can still gain a lot with an optimized strategy.
Optimize your site for maximum conversion
You get into any field in WooCommerce, and there will be ample competition to make you sweat. You need to ensure all the latest optimization strategies are fulfilled on your site. To really stand out from the competition, you may need to offer exclusive deals and personalization options to customers. Good customer relationship management is another essential aspect you need to focus on. Keeping customers engaged throughout the process of booking and availing the service would help to create a good impression. If you customers remember that experience as something smooth, there is a high probability that they’ll come back.
Optimizing customer experience also means that the pricing pattern on your store to is contemporary. Static pricing has become a thing of the past. Almost all industries are trying out ways to set dynamic pricing strategies. You can find a list of useful WooCommerce dynamic pricing strategies here. If you want some insights on general eCommerce pricing strategies, you can find those here.
Build your online presence
Having a great online presence is key to the success of any eCommerce venture. This is because a vast majority of your audience is going to make a Google search for your products or services. Interestingly, the frequency with which your potential customers from Google search results page land on your website largely determines your business success. You may have to build your online presence by getting a certain amount of reviews and feedback on external resources as well. Almost every domain will have an authoritative review aggregator site. For example, hotel bookings are largely influenced by TripAdvisor reviews. If you are able to feature your store nicely in external resources connected to your industry, it ensures customer influx.
You may have to use effective customer relationship management strategies to ensure consistent engagement on your site. This, in fact, holds real potential, as a large share of your satisfied customers never really bother to post a review somewhere. Devising strategies to get them post a favorable, realistic review of your product or service would help a lot.
Maintain personalization in customer engagement
Personalization is trending huge in WooCommerce. All sort of businesses is trying different ways to personalize user experience to acquire and retain customers. So, if you are not using some of the proven strategies to personalize your customer experience, you might be really lagging behind. Interestingly, you can try out personalization in various ways from the emails that you are sending – by providing unique discounts, or by sending a free gift. Offering a complimentary service based on a customer’s booking history would naturally delight him/her. Once you start getting the right tone in customer engagement, you will find better value for your marketing campaigns.
Offering booking on your WooCommerce store is a solid idea to bring in revenue. However, you have to ensure a seamless booking experience for your customers. In addition, you have to find a unique voice for your services and brand to stand out from the crowd. It is important to balance your strategies so that you achieve the projected targets. Adopting some of the proven strategies of industry leaders might give you a solid foundation to build your business. However, as your business grows, the ability to rejuvenate your business model to retain and acquire more customers make all the difference. If you have an online store with WooCommerce, here are some interesting booking plugins.