October 14, 2019

How to set up an Online Booking System in WordPress?

When was the last time you called up someone to make an appointment? Or a reservation? Or to book anything at all?

I am guessing it’s been a while. Well, it’s been a while for your customers as well!

Waste fewer efforts on taking calls and make it way more convenient for customers to book a slot by going online! Whether you run a salon or own a dental clinic, an online booking system is a great way to manage all your bookings & appointments conveniently from one place.

So let’s take you through how you go about setting up your own booking system in no time.

What users expect from an efficient booking system,

  • An availability calendar: The availability calendar informs the user what slots are free and which ones are already booked
  • Details & relevant images: It is important to provide customers with as much information about the booking to help them make decisions easily.
  • Payment options: Provide users with options to make payments simple. Also, customers appreciate if they can save their payment information to make the job easier the next time
  • Confirmation notification: Send an alert to the client confirming that their appointment has been made.
  • Cancellation & refund: Customers should have the ability to cancel an appointment & get a refund

Apart from these basic functionalities, there are also business-specific features that you need to think about. For example, a Hotel booking system should be translatable and accept international payment methods.

Now, this might seem overwhelming. Adding all these functionalities independently is a lot of work! The solution: use a good booking plugin! It’s simple, convenient & adds all the features you need in one go.

Set up an Online Booking System in WordPress with BirchPress 

BirchPress: How to Setup an Online Booking System in WordPress

We’ll be using the BirchPress plugin to set up our Online Booking System in WordPress.

BirchPress is a schedule an appointment plugin for WordPress that can be used for varied types of businesses. It is specifically aimed at helping small business owners easily integrated booking functionalities into their WordPress websites.

In this article you will see:

A. How to Install and Setup BirchPress (Step 1 – Step 3)

B. Add a Booking Form to Your Website (Step 4 – Step 6)

C. Setup Email Notifications for Cancellation and Rescheduling (Step 7 – Step 8)

D. Manage Booking with the Calendar Tab (Step 9)

A. How to Install and Setup BirchPress

To start with you will need to install and activate the BirchPress plugin.
Once the plugin is activated navigate to the Appointments tab.

Step 1: Add Locations

Start by adding all the existing places where your store/organization is located. If you have just one outlet, that’s okay too, but in the case of multiple locations, make sure that you add all of them using the Location Tab under Appointments.

Adding all your locations makes it easier for customers to book appointments for the location that is convenient for them.

Add New Location option of BirchPress Plugin

Click on Add Location and fill in the respective information in the fields. Provide your contact information, address and other details to make it as informative as possible. Then click on Publish to add that location to your booking system.

Step 2: Add Service Providers

The Providers section under the Appointments tab helps you add profiles of people you that work in your establishment. That is the people on your staff, be it different doctors, or dance instructors, or hairstylists with different specializations.

This way customers can book an appointment to see a specific staff member depending on what they want out of their appointment.

Add New Provider Details like Staff name-description and schedule details of service providers

BirchPress displays service providers in alphabetical order. For each profile, you can have a short description of the person and include their timings & available days. Customers will only be able to book appointments for available timings.

Now, while this is enough for a simple straightforward booking system, you can elevate it with few premium functions BirchPress has to offer:

  • Add exceptions for blocking out unavailable slots in between, like lunchtime
  • Block days for a particular service provider off for holidays and events
  • Select a colour to represent each service provider on the calendar
  • Sync your personal calendars
  • Add email id of the service provider
Additional info like Email address and Calendar Integration

Step 3: Add the Services you Offer

The Services tab is where you add all the services you provide.

Clicking on the Add New Service button opens up a new window that lets you add the name of your service and a for it description and fiddle around with the settings.

The service settings section is where you specify the duration of the appointment, what is the padding time in between for clean up and set up, the charges, and how many people can be accommodated in a single appointment.

Add New Service options- Length (minutes), Padding, Price($), Capacity, Timeslot, Prepayment

And lastly, you can assign people that can perform a particular service and the locations where they are available.

B. Add a Booking Form to Your Website

Step 4: Add a booking form into a Post or Page

Once you have your basics set up, you can display an easily accessible booking form on pages or posts. All you need is a simple shortcode!

Insert the shortcode [bpscheduler_booking_form] wherever you would like the booking form to appear on your page or post.

Add a Booking form into page
Source: https://www.birchpress.com/support/documentation/scheduler/get-started

You can also filter the fields displayed on your booking form depending on the page. For this, we need to modify the shortcode a little bit. Specify the ids for location, staff and services you want to be available on the booking form.

Look at this example below:

[bpscheduler_booking_form location_ids=”1,2″ staff_ids=”3,4″ service_ids=”5,6″]

This shortcode would only display the 2 locations with id 1 & 2, personnel with id 3 &4 or service with id 5 & 6. To easily find the id that belongs to a particular location, staff or service all you need to do is hover over the name and check the bottom left corner of your screen.

The id you’re looking for is whatever number follows the ‘post=’ part of the link.

This is what the form would look like on your website:

Appointment Info like Location, Service, Date, Time and Service Providers
Source: https://www.birchpress.com/support/documentation/scheduler/get-started

Step 5: Add booking form in a side-bar widget

You can use the same [bpscheduler_booking_form] shortcode, with or without modifications, to add a consistent booking form in the side-bar widget of your website.

Go to Appearance -> Widgets. Create a new Text Widget and just insert the shortcode in the content box. Viola! Your booking form widget is ready!

Step 6: Customization of Booking Form

It’s possible that the default booking form that BirchPress offers might not suit the requirements of your business. BirchPress allows you the freedom of custom making your own booking form. Navigate to the Form Builder tab in Settings. Easily Add and Edit fields to make a booking form that is right for you!

Form Builder Settings in Birchpress

C. Email Notifications, Cancellation and Rescheduling

Step 7: Send confirmation emails to staff & clients

Every time someone books an appointment, you can send out confirmation and reminder emails. Notify both the client and the service provider that a booking has been made. All you have to do is click the ‘Enable’ checkbox in the ‘Notifications’ tab.

Notification settings in BirchPress like - Notification to Provider and Notification to Client

To ensure a smooth notification process, create predefined email templates for when you want to send out emails for a new appointment, cancelled appointment, modified appointment or reminders.

Edit Email Templates

Note that this is a premium feature and be sure to add the email id of the service provider in the provider tab. You might also need an SMTP plugin if your web hosting services do not support sending emails.

Step 8: Cancelling & Rescheduling appointments

Create ‘Cancel Appointment’ and ‘Reschedule Appointment’ pages using two simple shortcodes [bpscheduler_cancel_appointment] and [bpscheduler_reschedule_appointment].

Go to Settings -> Navigation

For Cancel Page and Reschedule Page, select the pages you just created. Make sure that you hide these pages from the website menu.

Cancel Appointment and Reschedule options

When sending out emails to clients you can insert cancellation and rescheduling links with {cancel_url} and {reschedule_url} tags in the email template.

So if for any reason they can’t make their appointment, it can be easily taken care of.

Please note that this feature is only available with Business and Business+ plans.

D. Manage Bookings with the Calendar Tab

Step 9: Add, delete or reschedule appointments

The Calendar section under the appointment section is where you can view and manage all your appointments.

It allows you to easily add new appointments and also delete and reschedule them, should the need arise. This way even if someone books an appointment without using a booking form on your website, for example – by calling, you can still keep a track of all your bookings.

Appointments Calendar for October 2019

The calendar also simplifies the way you view appointments by giving you the option of filtering them by location, staff personnel, or time period.

BirchPress: A WordPress Appointment Booking Plugin 

BirchPress is truly quite a comprehensive WordPress appointment booking plugin. It allows you to create a full-fledged online booking system without putting in a lot of effort.

Using an appointment plugin like BirchPress can make a world of difference in the way you make, manage and track appointments. It completely eliminates any manual effort on your part and makes the entire process smoother & more manageable.

There’s also a lot more you can do with BirchPress like integrate your WooCommerce shop, sync your personal calendars, add PayPal as a payment method and we really encourage you to check all these features out!

In addition to that, if you’re looking for a different appointment plugin Booking Calendar, WooCommerce Bookings and Bookly are good alternatives.

So, go ahead and get started with setting up your own Online Booking system!

Will you be using BirchPress or a different appointment plugin? Did you run into any issues when setting up your booking system? If you already have a booking system, how has it helped you? Tell us all down in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post might be affiliate links. When you purchase through a link on our website, we receive a small commission, at no added cost to you, which helps us run Epitrove and keep producing great content. This does not influence our recommendations; we only recommend products we work with or love. Thank you for your support!

Lavanya Deshmukh
Lavanya Deshmukh

Computer Engineer, food enthusiast and die-hard Harry Potter fan that now writes content full time for Epitrove


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