Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Add a Booking System to a WordPress Site

updated on Jul 15, 2016
How to Add a Booking System to a WordPress Site An online booking system is important for those businesses and individuals who'd like to manage client appointments in an easy way. If you are running a hotel, a spa town, a hairdressing salon or any other business that is appointment-based, you will find how a booking system is helpful and time-saving. Such a system helps improve your user experience, increase the customer satisfaction, and get your customers' appointments and contact information well-organized.

Depending on the type of your business, you may need different features from the booking system, but generally speaking, a good booking system that is suitable for most people should come with the following features.
  • Allow the customers to book appointments online.
  • Support easy management of customers' contact information.
  • Allow adding services and service providers.
  • Collect payments via credit cards, PayPal or other payment gateways.
  • Send notifications to site admin and confirmation emails to customers.
In the tutorials below, we will show how to add a booking system to a WordPress site in detail. Two occasions are covered, so you need to make clear your needs first, and then follow the tutorial right for you.

Add a Booking Calendar to Your Site to Show Availability

Sometimes you don't need a complicated booking system if what you want is only to show the availability of your time. This case is true for most consultants, therapists, and those renting a holiday home or an office. Since individuals usually want to keep things simple, a booking calendar is enough to meet their needs.

If you are in such a situation, you can install a popular plugin named WP Simple Booking Calendar on your WordPress site. With the free version, you are able to create a calendar to display the available dates of anyone or anything, thus your site visitors can check the availability quickly. More features like unlimited booking calendars, legend items, user management, and booking notes are included in the premium version that charges a one-time fee of $29.

WP Simple Booking Calendar

Since the plugin is simple and easy-to-use, you can set it up within minutes. Upon plugin activation, go to the new menu item with the same name as the plugin, give the booking calendar a title, and then change the booking status of each date.

By default, all dates are available, but you can change the status to "Booked" or "Changeover" according to your own needs. Also, you are able to switch between different months and years. After checking all the dates, save the changes. The availability can be modified whenever you need. So only make sure that you are not missing any date on which you are not available when setting up the calendar for the first time.

If you don't accept appointments on weekends, remember to assign "Booked" to all dates of the weekends in a month.

Set Up Booking Calendar

After setting up the booking calendar, you can add it to any WordPress post or page by using the shortcode [sbc title="yes"]. If you don't want the title to show up, then change the title in the shortcode to "no".

Add a Booking Calendar to WordPress Post or Page

In fact, for this simple booking calendar, we'd suggest you place it in a sidebar widget instead of a post or page because this makes it easier to find and view. As the plugin has a built-in widget, you only need to find the widget in Appearance > Widgets, and drag it to your website's sidebar. You can choose whether to show the calendar title.

Add a Booking Calendar to WordPress Sidebar

Add a Complete Booking System to Your Site That Accepts Payments

Compared with individuals, businesses will need a more complicated booking system that comes with the ability to accept appointments, collect customer information, and accept payments online. If you want such a system for reservations, then try the Booking Ultra Pro plugin.

Though not being among the top booking plugin options, Booking Ultra Pro offers an interface that is really straight-forward and easy-to-use. What's more, the features included in the free version are good enough for small businesses. Spend a minute to try the plugin's demo, and you will find how helpful it is.

Add a Booking System with Booking Ultra Pro

After installing and activating the plugin, you can access its settings in the Booking Ultra menu. Now follow the steps below to set up the plugin.

Configure the general settings of the plugin

Since the plugin is powerful and feature rich, it gives you a large number of options to deal with. Under the "Settings" tab, you need to enter your company name and phone number, and choose between free booking and paid booking. If you select free booking, you need to handle several extra options which are self-explanatory.

Configure General Settings

Scrolling the page down, you will be faced with the settings of the cancellation page. You can select a page on your site to allow appointment cancellation, and then enable the cancellation link in the confirmation email. You may need to create a new page for the cancellation functionality.

Select Cancellation Page

Below the cancellation settings, there are some options related to the display of the date and time.

Customize Date and Time

Then, you are able to select the calendar slot length and how many days to display for customers to choose when they book an appointment.

Select Calendar Slot Length

The rest settings about the currency, service price and avatar are easy-to-understand, so you can deal with all of them quickly without any problem.

Change Avatar

Define the business hours

After saving the miscellaneous settings, you can open the "Business Hours" tab to add your business hours. You are free to select any opening and closing hours for any day. If your business is not open to the public on weekends or some other days, simply select "OFF".

Define Business Hours

Configure the payment gateways

If you accept paid bookings, you have to set up the payment gateways. Under the "Gateways" tab, you can activate PayPal, Bank Deposit or both according to your needs, and then complete the rest fields to get the payment gateways working. When setting up PayPal, you can use the test mode to test payments.

Configure Payment Gateways

Create services

After dealing with the plugin settings, the next thing you should do is to create the services you provide and categorize them if needed. Services and categories can be managed under the "Services" tab.

As soon as you access the tab, click on the "+" sign next to Categories to create a new category. Simply give the category a name and save it.

Create a New Category

Next, you can add a new service by clicking on the "+" sign next to Services. In the popup, you have to give the service a name, select the background and font color, select the duration of the service, enter the price information (without the currency symbol), select the category, etc. Clicking on the "Update" button will get the service saved. Then you can add more services to your booking system.

Create a New Service

After creating the categories and services, you can edit or delete them at any time.

Edit Categories and Services

Create and manage staff members

Booking Ultra Pro allows you to create staff members and assign services to them. With the free version, you can add one staff member only, and all the premium packages support unlimited staff.

Under the "Staff" tab, click on the "+" sign and add a new staff member by entering his/her full name, email and username.

Create a New Staff Member

After adding the staff member, you can upload a picture for him/her, and add his/her phone number optionally.

Edit Staff Details

Then, expand "Services" and select the categories and services you want to assign to the staff member.

Assign Services to Staff Member

In the "Schedule" section, you have to select the available dates and times of the staff member. New staff members won't be scheduled for any service if you don't set up their schedule manually. Besides, it is also possible to add breaks for any staff member.

Schedule Staff Member

Set up email notifications

Email notifications are important for both the business owners and customers, so you need to open the "Notifications" tab to make some configurations. By default, email notifications are enabled for all of the site admin, staff members and clients. While under this tab, you can also:
  • Change the "Send from" name and email.
  • Select the mailer among PHP mail function, SMTP, Mandrill, etc. We'd suggest you send WordPress emails via SMTP to increase the reliability.
  • Configure the SMTP settings.
  • Customize the email templates for new bookings, reschedules, payment message and appointment status change.
Set Up Email Notifications

Add the booking form to the frontend of your site

After completing all the tasks above, you can add the booking form to the frontend of your WordPress site by using the shortcode [bupro_appointment]. We'd suggest use the shortcode on a WordPress page and add the page to the navigation menu so that your visitors can access the booking form more easily.

Add Booking Form to WordPress

With the shortcode above, you will get the following booking form on the frontend.

Add Booking Form

Test the booking system

Making an appointment through the booking system created with Booking Ultra Pro is a 4-step process. To make sure that everything can work right on your WordPress site, you can try booking a service by yourself and completing the payments.

Test Booking System

If the system works well, you will receive email notifications, and then you are able to see the appointment and payments in WordPress dashboard.

See Appointments in WordPress Dashboard

Besides, you, as the admin, are able to create appointments on behalf of your customers in the dashboard of the plugin.

Create Appointments on Behalf of Clients