The rapid changes in web technology are giving birth to new and innovative virtual products and services. Beyond virtual products such as e-books, music, and other content, Web 2.0 paved the way for services to be available online. The development of rapid communication systems and sophisticated payment methods made online services possible.
Now, it is not uncommon to book almost any services online. The first ones to notice are the travel and lifestyle industries. Beyond the typical booking system of airlines, small and medium enterprises in the said industries are also taking advantage of booking systems online. Even Google is taking notice of the on-going increase of booking systems.
Unsurprisingly, WordPress developers are not unaware of such trend. The demand for such systems is now opening WordPress to new booking systems. Let’s take a look at some examples and their advantages and disadvantages.
Third-Party Booking Systems
The first booking systems to be used in WordPress are third-party booking systems. Third-party means those services with websites and web applications of their own. All you have to do is add an embed code in a WordPress page to connect it. Others may even have their own WordPress shortcodes for easy integration. However, one unifying characteristics of such booking systems is that they “live” outside of the WordPress ecosystem.
Third-party systems can have their front-end pages and user-interfaces be embedded in WordPress pages. However, processing and booking are done on their own servers. Some systems may even redirect to their websites to add to their traffic.
A good example of such booking system is Gigabook. It can accept booking on its own outside WordPress. Moreover, it offers other features such as payments, client scheduling, forms, and others. Its front-end user-interface can be integrated with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and other content management systems and site builders.
Advantages. One of its advantages is the booking system “lives” outside of your WordPress servers. That means, even when your main website server is down, you can still accept bookings through the booking system’s website. Additionally, it works right out-of-the-box as you only have to sign-up to one of its plans and embed its front-end UI to a WordPress page. There’s also no need to routinely update the system as the booking system itself manages it.
Disadvantages. One of its advantages is also its disadvantages. Because the application itself is outside of WordPress, there’s very little that you can control. Moreover, for advanced users, there’s not much that they can adjust or modify in its code-level functionalities. Also, these third-party services are quite expensive. It allows them to ask for much higher prices because they do maintain both the features, codes and the server for the application.
Booking With Forms
Long before booking engines have popped-up across different platforms, developers and business owners were already using forms to communicate with their customers. Moreover, these forms ca easily accept bookings to further expand different business ventures. One of the simplest form software around is Google Forms. The tool was originally created as a survey platform. However, it had evolved into a flexible web application to accept bookings. Another option is SurveyMonkey. It is much more advanced than Google Forms which make it a popular option for businesses. Its paid options are robust enough to be used as a customized booking system. For businesses accepting bookings for events such as workshops, concerts, and similar activities, Eventbrite seems to be a good option. Its ticketing systems make it much more suitable as a booking system.
Advantages. Bookings using forms makes it easier to collect bookings from customers. It can easily aggregate customer information in one place including different events and business ventures. There are several free and paid options which business can take advantage. Also, most, if not all, can easily be integrated into existing websites.
Disadvantages. One big problem with using third-party forms is its inability to fully integrate with existing web applications and websites. While it can be added to a website, it is not truly integrated with the business processes. Unless the business makes it processes revolve around the third-party tools. However, problems arise when the business begins to grow. Third-party form platforms are only suitable for one-off or smaller booking ventures. For a growing business, it will need a better, integrated platform.
Add-On to E-Commerce
In recent years, two of the biggest e-commerce add-on to WordPress is becoming more and more popular among different kinds of business. They are not limited to digital products anymore. WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are both proving to be flexible enough to handle an entire business venture online. In fact, you must business use one of the two as their primary tool in their business process. Due to the increasing popularity, both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads saw the demand for booking systems. Both released WooCommerce Bookings and EDD Bookings. These are official add-ons produced by the creators of both platforms. Other third-party booking add-ons may exist.
Advantages. If you are already using WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, there’s no need to look for another plugin as they offer their own booking platforms. You can be sure that these add-ons will work with both e-commerce platforms as they are both by the creators. Updates will be as consistent as the updates from the e-commerce platforms as well.
Disadvantages. Both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads tend to be heavy on the servers. While the two are good platforms for full-blown online businesses, they can be too big for budding ventures. Moreover, they can be quite expensive especially for small and medium enterprises. Not to mention the additional cost of adding a booking add-on. Lastly, there’s no way to download the booking platform independently as you will need to download the e-commerce platforms first before you can even install the booking systems.
Booking with Booking X
What if you do not want to use a third-party booking system? Or deal with unwieldy forms? Or learn an entire e-commerce platform?
Booking X is the right plugin for you.
It eliminates all the hoops and obstacles that you need to go through when you use the other options above. Booking X allows you to accept bookings right away without having to deal with messy platforms, external websites, or confusing forms. You can even integrate it with your existing business workflow. Easily install it, customize its looks, and deploy without the steep learning curve.
By stripping down the plugin to what it does best, Booking X becomes a flexible booking system for any business. Whether you are a budding, one-man start-up or a business looking to expand your ventures, Booking X can easily handle your demands without much effort.
Explore more of Booking X features such as multiple calendar views, flexible customization, different location actions, and payment methods here.
The increasing demand for flexible booking system has been a long-time demand from businesses. Remember to conduct a proper analysis of your needs and wants. Choose a tool which can easily grow with your business without added cost and effort.