Any new product takes time getting used to. However, once a comfort zone has been reached the newness wears off and the product sticks around until there arises a need for something new.
WisdmLabs faced a similar situation with respect to the product booking functionality for WooCommerce. We had been recommending the WooCommerce Bookings plugin by WooThemes to clients for some time now and frankly, we as well as our clients had been satisfied with the plugin.
Recently though something changed.
A client to whom we suggested the WooCommerce Bookings plugin had two specific issues with the plugin.
- The first is that it comes with an extremely steep price tag.
- The second is that they needed the option to export a list of all booked products as a document.
While the first is a limitation that we usually overcome (we don’t like compromising quality for the money, so we usually convince the client on this front) the second point was hard to argue. I mean what are we supposed to do. If the client wants something we gotta give it to him. No questions asked.
Now that WooCommerce Bookings was no longer an option the next thing that we thought of was the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin by Tyche Softwares. Honestly, we had heard of the plugin but hadn’t explored it much until now. But now that we were tinkering around, it actually turned out to be a fairly comprehensive alternative for the WooCommerce bookings feature.
Interestingly enough, $119 was also a bit steep for the client.
Actually, you know what? I don’t blame him. In a day and age when plugins are available for as little $9 and a lot of times even for free, I wasn’t surprised by the reaction. In my opinion, however, to know the plugins worth you actually need to know what it is capable of.
On that note here’s an inside look of the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin.
A Quick Look at the Plugin
Setting Up The WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin
Once you have installed and activated the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin a menu item labeled “Booking” appears in the admin menu. The menu is minimal and doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many options. This, in my opinion, is a good start for seasoned WordPress users and a very good start for amateur users.
You will have to navigate to ‘Booking’ –> ‘Settings’ to configure the plugin and set it up for use. All the configuration options have been aggregated under the ‘Settings’ sub-menu making the plugin setup process extremely simple. Once you have reached the ‘Settings’ most options will be available in the ‘Global Booking Settings’. These settings are fairly self-explanatory and supported by ‘Help tooltips’ alongside every field should you not understand.
Let me take you through all the settings quickly and you’ll understand why I’ve been harping about the plugin’s ease of use. Also, if you have your doubts about what you can or cannot do with the plugin the next section is sure to address most queries
The plugin provides settings to choose the language of your choice. You can also select the date format, time format, first day on the calendar, and the number of months that will be displayed at the time of booking a product.
Also, the plugin gives a unique option to give customers access to a copy of the ICS file either by directly downloading it after the booking process has been completed or by sending it as an attachment in an email.
The global settings tab also provides an option to choose a calendar theme (from a list provided) which can be previewed in the dashboard before saving the selection. Apart from that if you wanna disable booking for a few select dates that can be done from the ‘Global Booking Settings’ tab.
The next group of settings are more specific and might not be needed by many. But just in case you do then right there for you to use. These settings allow you to round off booking prices, duplicate booking dates from the first product in the cart to other products among others.
A very important setting here though is that of enabling the display of a product’s availability on the product page.
The next tab i.e. the “Booking Labels” tab allows you to set custom labels for all fields visible in the front end. The custom label will be displayed in the front end If you add your own string to the textbox against a particular label. Otherwise, the default value is what you will see.
And hey don’t forget to save your settings once you have configured the plugin based on your requirement.
Making a Product Bookable
Once you have set up the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin the next step would be to create bookable products. To make a product bookable, a user will have to navigate to the single product page. Once here a “Booking” metabox is made available to the user lower on the page.
The list of options provided at the time of creating a bookable product is extensive and well thought out by the developers. Not only have they paid attention to detailed customer requirements but they have also incorporated these options well into the user interface making it easy for the user to navigate through them.
The various options here have been segmented into the following tabs.
This is the main tab and is used to enable a booking date. Apart from that time specific and day-specific booking can also be applied to the product that has now been made bookable.
This tab actually has me impressed at the level of detail the plugin architecture has gone through. The settings tab provides the option to hide the calendar on the bookings page and allows customers to book a product without choosing a date. This is especially helpful for advance bookings of tangible products which are extremely popular and call for a pre-booking.
Bookable Time Period
With the settings provided in the ‘Bookable Time Period’ tab, you can choose the time during which each product will be available for booking.
Manage Dates, Time Slots
I have been tinkering around with the plugin for around 3 hours now and this has been my first roadblock in so long. Until now I did not find the need to refer the documentation but this option has changed that trend. But just as the page started to load it dawned about me what this tab was all about.
So basically, here all the booking date and time options that you have set in the previous tabs has been aggregated in a tabular form here. I’m not sure if not understanding the tab was a momentary overdose of the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin or what but the fact that I needed to refer the documentation made me wonder why I had to do that. That’s when I noticed there wasn’t any information bar or tooltip in this section.
As the name suggests the special pricing tab allows you to set a specific price for select days and dates.
Fixed Block Booking
This type of booking mainly will allow you to offer products which are available for only a fixed number of days. So if your product is a registration to a weekend event then the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin is exactly what will fit your requirements.
Price by Range of Days
Again as the name suggests, the settings provided in this tab will allow you to set a price based on the number of days a booking has been made. Awesome right?
Want to take a look at the product page settings for the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin right here. Browse through the slider below.
Viewing Booked Products
Last but not least, I LOVE the ‘View Bookings’ submenu.
Well because it gives an option to do all of the following things without having the need to navigate to the page.
- View all bookings as a list.
- View all bookings in a calendar
- Create a new booking.
- Export a CSV file of all the bookings. (yeah this option was what convinced our client about the plugin.)
- Print all product bookings.
- Filter bookings based on ‘Bookings From Today Onwards’, ‘Todays Check-ins’, ‘Todays Check-outs’
So coming back to the main question, is the Woocommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin worth $119?
Well, I definitely think it is!!
It’s plain logic. Should I have to assume that the plugin took only 50 hours to develop (which definitely is not the case) you would still land up spending a minimum of $1500 at $30 an hour (mind you $30 is way on the left side of the pay scale). Also, 50 hours is the best case scenario.
Now, apart from that, you are freed from the hassle of communicating to your developer, your impression of the plugin which mind you can be an extremely exhausting task. Apart from that, you get support from the makers of the plugin. So should anything go wrong you know you have someone to help you? Lastly, the free updates along with the detailed documentation of the plugin are just icing on the cake.
So yes, for the long list of features it gives the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment Plugin is definitely worth every penny spent!