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How to Take Bookings on Your WordPress Website for Free

January 8, 2018
Manage Bookings & Appointments with WordPress

Whether you run a restaurant, own a holiday rental, or manage a venue, bookings are the lifeblood of your business. Customers increasingly expect to be able to make bookings and reservations quickly and efficiently, at any time and from any location. Constantly manning phones and instantly responding to e-mails is impractical and simply unmanageable for many businesses.

An online booking system enables customers to view your availability and make reservations anytime, anywhere – and WordPress has a plethora of great plugins on hand to meet your needs. The right choice will enable your site to display up to date schedules and availability, and also take bookings and reservations.

In this article, we’ll show you how to choose the right booking plugin for your WordPress website, then offer some suggestions depending on your type of business. Let’s get started!

Restaurant Reservations

With so many tables and time slots available at your restaurant, handling bookings can become pretty complex. A good WordPress reservation plugin not only gives you the means to connect more easily with customers, but also offers an efficient management system for bookings.

Let’s take a look at some of the best reservation plugins tailored specifically to restaurant reservations.

1. Open Table Widget

Open Table Widget

The Open Table Widget plugin enables you to add OpenTable reservation forms to your website. While there is an official plugin, this alternative provides a simplified design and more options.

The basic plugin is free, but there’s also a premium option available starting at $37. This offers support for international restaurants, the ability to customize pre and post widget content for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and much more.

2. Restaurant Reservations

Restaurant Reservations

The popular Restaurant Reservations plugin not only enables you to take online reservations, but also helps you to manage your booking system. A neat feature enables you to confirm or reject bookings by sending customized email notifications, directly from the plugin’s dashboard.

The booking form can be added to any page, post, or widget area. It has a clean and simple look and is easy to use. There are also a series of paid add-ons available including custom fields and MailChimp integration.

3. ReDi Restaurant Reservation

ReDi Restaurant Reservation

The RedDi Restaurant Reservation plugin also offers online reservations coupled with a booking management system. One nice additional feature enables you to view the reservation page in real time from a tablet or mobile device during service.

Although this plugin is free to download, there’s a monthly fee of around $7. Its cheap cost means you could try it for a month or two to see if it suits your needs.

Service Provider Appointments and Bookings

Regardless of the service you provide, online booking management offers a fast and easy solution to connect customers to your services. Sometimes it’s simply inconvenient for a customer to pick up the phone or wait for an email response. Making sure it’s easy to book online means there’s less chance of potential customers checking out your competitors.

Below, we’ve offered three of our favorite free plugins – let’s take a look!

1. BirchPress Scheduler

Appointment Booking Calendar - BirchPress Scheduler

The BirchPress Scheduler plugin offers an excellent solution for service-based businesses. Booking forms can be embedded into a page or post, and can also be optimized for responsive themes.

This plugin can handle multiple locations as well as multiple staff and services. It also enables you to set service lengths, padding times, and prices. Premium pricing starts at $75.

2. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Plugin

While the Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Plugin performs similarly to BirchPress Scheduler, the interface is far more aesthetically pleasing. The layout of the four-step booking process is modern and sleek, while also providing an easy to use form for your customers.

Other key features of this plugin are PayPal integration and the ability to reschedule appointments. The premium version starts at $39.97 and offers some helpful additional features such as Stripe integration, Google Calendar syncing, and flexible pricing.

3. Easy Appointments

Easy Appointments

The Easy Appointments plugin is another great solution for taking online bookings. The front end form is neat and compact, while the back end is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to manage.

The plugin supports multiple locations, services, and staff and even enables you to create separate calendars for each. This is one of the easiest appointment plugins to use, and comes highly recommended for inexperienced developers. It’s a great option if you’re building your own site.

Accommodation Bookings

Whether you manage a hotel, run a bed and breakfast, or own a holiday rental, online bookings can eliminate much of the stress involved in taking reservations. For a customer in a completely different time zone, the round-the-clock availability of the online booking process is a huge advantage.

Let’s take a look at some of the best free plugins available for online accommodation bookings:

1. WP Simple Booking Calendar

WP Simple Booking Calendar

The WP Simple Booking Calendar plugin does exactly what it promises. While it looks a little basic, it’s simple to install and is especially recommended for non-technical users.

The free version offers a great basic solution for taking bookings, but if you require multiple calendars you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version (priced at $29). This version does offer lots of other helpful features, including syncing with websites such as Booking.com and Airbnb.

2. Booking Calendar

Booking Calendar

Booking Calendar is one of those plugins that has stood the test of time. Originally developed in 2009, it enables customers to check availability and quickly make a booking – and it still does enough to meet the needs of today’s WordPress users.

The responsive front and back end designs, coupled with a sleek customizable look, make for an overall solid solution. Although this plugin was designed for booking accommodation, it can also be adapted to other services. While a number of options related to time slot selection are not available in the free version, you can add this functionality by purchasing the premium version, which starts at a pretty pricey $99.

3. Pinpoint Booking System

Pinpoint Booking System

While this is not easiest plugin to use, the Pinpoint Booking System plugin does offer a much more detailed interface than traditional-looking accommodation booking forms. Customers also have the ability to change the calendar on the front end to display multiple or fewer months.

The basic package is PayPal integrated and WooCommerce compatible, and there are also paid add-ons available for other payment providers.

Conclusion

Businesses already do so much to provide a great service that taking bookings and reservations could end up being a huge inconvenience. Online booking management systems can solve so many issues, but finding a solution that suits your workflow and business could be a struggle.

Using the advice and plugins we’ve suggested, you should now be able to offer your customers the flexibility of online bookings. From your point of view, you’ll also be able to manage bookings more efficiently. To get started, simply select the plugin that sounds right for your business, and give it a try!

Will any of these plugins be integral to your business needs? Let us know in the comments section below!

bookings-appointments-wordpress
Article by John Hughes WPExplorer Author
Published on: September 7, 2016
Last updated on: January 8, 2018
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13 Comments

  1. vijay says:

    Nice list of Plugins, all plugins are useful.

  2. John Hughes says:

    Good article. Needing a further recommendation off of the accommodations plugins to handle up to 9 locations and separate calendars for each, along with add-on’s once location and date are chosen. Any suggestions?

    • AJ Clarke says:

      Hum, that is a good question. Unfortunately I don’t have much experience with this (maybe someone else does that would like to comment). I recommend looking through the available plugins and if you find a design you like as the developer of the plugin if this is possible and if not if there would be an update to allow this. By the way I don’t think we mentioned it in the post but there are also some booking plugins available for WooCommerce as well.

  3. dedicated hosting says:

    This is indeed very helpful, very nice!

  4. John James says:

    Thank you for sharing these great sources and the information.

  5. ethan moore says:

    Great information!

  6. Jim Carvin says:

    Kudos also. I like the theme you used on this site/page. Which one is it?

  7. Daniel Joseph says:

    this is very helpful! thanks for sharing!

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