WooCommerce Bookings– the official bookings plugin by WooCommerce- happens to be one of the most popular plugins in its category, and rightly so! It allows you to set up appointments, enable scheduling and basically manage all kinds of bookable products or services.
You can use this extension to:
- Create a new type of product and offer a time or date-based reservation feature, right from your website.
- Create fixed time slots for bookings or let customers decide how they want it.
- Approve the booking request instantly or require admin approval.
- Enable and configure email notifications for confirmations and send reminder emails as necessary.
- Allow the users to cancel their reservation if they wanted to.
But wait, is it perfect for you?
Come on! Who are we kidding? Almost every bookings plugin in the WordPress repository is designed to suit just one or two business cases.
Your business is unique. You need features that specifically cater to your needs, and there are no two ways about it!
Now, WooCommerce Bookings might be a versatile plugin, but here’s a list of features that we think can take the plugin to a whole new level. Let’s find out!
#1 Availability Search Option
Let’s say you own a hotel. Step into your customers’ shoes for a moment.
You’re looking to book a room via the hotel website. Consider the following cases:
- Website 1- You’re browsing through the website, and you click on an option you’re interested in; only to find out that the room isn’t available. Now, imagine you have to go through each and every room to find out its availability. Aaarrgghh!
- Website 2- There’s a search bar which allows you to enter your ‘Check-in’ and ‘Check out’ dates, and only the available rooms are filtered out for you.
Which website would you prefer?
A complete no-brainer, isn’t it? Why would you want your customers to see the unavailable options in the first place!?
A simple search option in your bookings website could play a vital role in increasing the chances of conversion. The fact that this feature isn’t already a part of the WooCommerce Bookings plugin, is quite surprising.
#2 Rescheduling Feature
What if your customer has to postpone his stay by a couple of days? Would you allow him to cancel his booking and potentially lose out on business?
Of course not! You want to retain your audience. An option to update the booking dates focuses on improving the user experience of your website by making it easier for your customers to reschedule; as opposed to canceling a reservation and booking again on a later date.
A ‘Reschedule’ option could take the users to a list of alternative times or dates to move their booking. Once they click reschedule, the underlying event on your booking calendar is moved to the new time. The other details about their booking will remain unchanged.
You could keep the rescheduling activities on your website in check by, setting up a rescheduling window – the number of days/hours prior to which your customer can make use of this facility. Or you could charge a rescheduling fee (works when booking travel tickets or the sorts).
Although the WooCommerce Bookings plugin does provide a workaround (the option to cancel and re-book), it’s a lot of effort on the part of the customer. Customizing it to add a rescheduling feature could truly make it a whole lot easier for the customer and reduce the resistance to booking in the first place.
#3 Recurring Bookings
Now, let’s assume you’re still the owner of the hotel, and this hotel of yours has a conference hall. You’ve got a local business that regularly rents it every Wednesday.
Instead of having them book it each time they want to rent it, that is every Wednesday, why not give them an option of recurring bookings. With recurring bookings, a customer would have to enter booking details once and have the product booked on a timely basis, throughout a month or even a year. This also allows you to make the payment procedure extremely convenient for your customers.
You can create a user-friendly ‘Recurring Bookings’ option for a bookable product on your website, which takes into consideration the availability of a product and sets a limit on the number of recurring bookings.
Recurring bookings could help you increase the number of confirmed appointments in a year, retain customer loyalty, and grow your business with ease. A must-needed feature, we think.
#4 Conditional Discounts
WooCommerce Bookings lets you offer discounts by setting specific pricing for certain date ranges. But, that’s about all this plugin can do for you, as far as discounts are concerned. Some of the more dynamic discount features to consider would be:
- Conditional Discounts- This is when you, the seller, agrees to lower his price if the buyer agrees to certain conditions. For example, “Book 1 month prior to your stay and get 10% Off!” It could also be an increase or decrease in the price of your product based on dates, demands, and trends on your website.
- Bundled Discounts- Rather than lowering the selling price of one product or service, you lower the price of a group of items bought together.
- Freebies and Extras- That’s the classic ‘Buy 1 Get 1’ offer. Sometimes, a discount isn’t enough to get more customers. But if you offer something for free, you’re sure to attract more interest.
Offering discounts for your business can be a powerful weapon in your conversion arsenal to drive customer loyalty. But, if used haphazardly, you can do significant damage to your brand or, worse, become unprofitable.
Coming back to your hotel, how can we forget the holiday season? It is the best time to spice up your marketing strategy with special offers and discounts. You’re going to need all the tools and tackles you can lay hands on, to make the most of it!
#5 Consolidated Display
If you’ve been using WooCommerce Bookings, you’re already aware that in order to book a particular room, you’ll have to click on it to check it’s availability. Yes, the ‘availability search option’ I mentioned earlier helps, but it doesn’t account for every use case. I’ll explain.
Let’s consider your conference hall again. Assuming you have more than one conference room to offer, here’s what your website needs to handle:
- It needs to show your user all of the available options
- This user requires some basic information like the capacity (no. of guests a room can accommodate), and the cost of a particular room.
- The time slots that your guest is choosing on a particular day are to be a continuous set of blocks. Obviously, right? A 3-hour meeting wouldn’t be conducted at 3 random times during the day.
All of this sounds a little overwhelming, but this solution boils down to creating ‘a simple consolidated view of your bookable products’. In this case, your conference rooms.
Seems like another obvious thing to have on your booings website, doesn’t it?
#6 Dynamic Pricing
Before we get into the details, let’s be clear about not confusing this with discounts.
A discount is something that you can set up across your entire booking website. The dynamic pricing that I’m referring to here is ‘customer-specific pricing’ that is displayed based on who your user is (a first-time buyer, a regular customer, a guest user etc).
There are endless ways to play around with this one! For instance, you could:
- set customized cart discount rules
- offer discount percentages for specific products or product categories on items added to the cart
- set an upper limit on the discount amount awarded
- exclude certain users, roles, groups, products or categories from being discounted
- and send messages on the product page prompting a user to increase the purchase value for a discount
Pretty awesome, right?
If you observe the image closely, you’ll realize that, in the above example, a ‘percentage discount’ is offered to the guests depending on the number of hours they’re paying for. That’s the ‘dynamic pricing’ feature in action.
You can’t always offer discounts to all of your customers. However, if you want to keep your regulars happy and give them that little incentive to stick around, this feature is just what you need!
The Bottom Line
As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce Bookings is a great plugin to address your basic bookings needs. But ‘basic’ is simply not going to make the cut when you’re up against the metamorphic e-commerce trends!
Because this plugin does not offer some of the fundamental features you need, you’ve got no option but to look for other alternatives and plugins to customize your booking website. The above list is based on several requests and WooCommerce Bookings customization projects that we’ve handled. There could be a lot more which we haven’t thought of.
Do you agree with the features we’ve listed above? Which other features, in your opinion, should be a part of WooCommerce Bookings?
Comment below, and let us know!
1. Why should I go beyond booking options currently offered by WooCommerce Bookings?
WooCommerce Bookings is a great plugin to address your basic booking needs. But almost every booking plugin in the WordPress repository is designed to suit just one or two business cases. Your business is unique. You need features that specifically cater to your needs.
2. What advanced features does my booking website need?
- Availability Search Option
- Rescheduling Feature
- Recurring Bookings
- Conditional Discounts
- Consolidated Display
- Dynamic Pricing
3. How can I add advanced booking features to my booking website?
- Option 1: Customizing the WooCommerce Bookings plugin
- Option 2: Additional or alternative booking plugins
Ben Roberts :
Hey! Totally agree with #3 – I have created a plugin that hopefully does what your readers might need. It’s on the WordPress repository as Recurring Bookings for WooCommerce. Would love to hear some feedback from you and anyone else who gives it a try.