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Key Features that an Online Booking System Should Have

If there’s one word that encapsulates what it’s like to live in a digital world, it’s convenience

This is an era where information is literally in the palm of our hands; where there’s an app for almost everything; and booking anything—from flights to hotels, from classes to camps—everything can be done with a touch of a button. 

Today, around 83% of US adults say they prefer to book their trips and travel via online booking systems. It’s not just the travel and tourism sector that relies heavily on bookings either. Many businesses in the service and hospitality industry, from restaurants to hair salons, gyms to educational institutions, are shifting to online booking platforms as a way to streamline the process. 

Good booking software can make it easier to track crucial information about customer needs, minimize the risk of double booking, and help companies to preserve a lucrative business calendar. However, choosing the right system for booking requirements can be a time-consuming and complex process. 

A good booking system shouldn’t just make life easier for the customer or service user, it should also help business leaders to minimize tedious, time-consuming tasks. 

The Key Features to Examine in an Online Booking System

Customer details collected by service provider for manual booking

The exact needs of any professional or company purchasing an online booking system are likely to vary depending on their sector and requirements. For instance, the solution you choose to help you book and schedule appointments with clients as an insurance agent will be different from the tool you use for managing hotel and travel bookings. 

Here are the key features of a booking system-

  1. Intuitive and Easy-to-use Interface
  2. Mobile Responsiveness
  3. Availability Calendar Display
  4. Real-time Booking and Confirmation
  5. Option to Choose Preferred Language

Choosing the right booking solution for your business, in any software category, requires careful consideration and planning. Some of the core elements you may want to prioritize include:

1. Intuitive and Easy-to-Use Interface

Any good online booking system should be easy to use. The right solution should be intuitive and straightforward for your customer on the front end, and easy for professionals to navigate on the back end. Look for a solution with a clean, streamlined user interface, providing access to all of the right information and guidance in one place. 

2. Mobile Responsiveness 

While around 64% of customers make bookings on the web, another 44% expect to be able to access the same functionality on a mobile device. As demand for mobile functionality continues to increase, companies should ensure their booking systems aren’t just mobile-friendly, but conveniently customized to suit smaller screens.

3. Availability Calendar Display

One of the most important features to look for in any online booking system is an integration with a calendar system, which allows users to view availability levels by date. The right booking system should connect with the back-end calendar in your business, to ensure you’re not double-booking any clients, or accepting bookings on days when professionals might not be available. You should also be able to see all of your bookings in a straightforward, calendar format, to prepare for seasonal changes

4. Real-time Booking and Confirmation

Today’s consumers want their online bookings to be streamlined and convenient. Allowing clients to book appointments or activities instantly online, and receive an immediate confirmation provides your audience with peace of mind. Your booking system should also send notifications to your team whenever you receive a booking, so you can keep track of upcoming appointments. 

5. Option to Choose Preferred Language

Many hospitality and travel companies leveraging booking systems will have clients and customers located across the globe. Choosing a multi-lingual booking system ensures your consumers will be able to access your services easily, in the language of their choice. Ensure your booking platform doesn’t have any issues with language barriers or currency requirements. 

Other Crucial Components to Consider

Outside of the core components above, there are numerous other factors you should be looking at when choosing an effective online booking system. When sorting through your options, you’ll need to examine features related to the following areas:

  1. Customizable booking forms
  2. Payment processing
  3. Customer management
  4. Schedule management
  5. Reporting and Analytics
  6. Integrations
  7. Online Waivers

Let’s take a look at the key features of online booking software to prioritize in each area. 

1. Customizable Booking forms

Customizable booking forms allow you to add crucial details to the booking process, so your customers can make the right decisions about their upcoming event. They should also make it easy to enhance your booking experience with your branding, and collect relevant information from each consumer. Customizable elements to examine include:

  • Custom fields: The ability to add custom fields, for collecting essential customer information such as names, birthdays, location (for travel and hospitality), and specific needs. You should also be able to alter the copy around fields to suit your brand voice. 
  • Field management: Options to enable or disable certain fields for different types of booking. For instance, you may want to remove a field asking customers for their dietary preferences as an airline company if they opt not to receive an in-flight meal. 
  • Booking types: The ability to set up various booking types, such as appointments, meetings, travel options, and more, depending on your industry. 
  • Customer data: Options for collecting customer details such as asking for email addresses, and contact details, and collecting other insights about requirements (such as dietary preferences). 
  • Payment options: Support multiple payment options, including credit cards, debit cards, delayed payments, subscriptions, and online wallets (PayPal). Giving your customers a range of payment options will improve their shopping experience. 

2. Payment Processing

Payment processing is one of the most crucial features to include in any booking system. You may need customers to pay a deposit on an upcoming appointment online or pay for their travel if they’re booking a trip. The payment processing system offered within your online booking system should make it easy to track and manage payments securely. Look for:

  • Payment gateways: Secure and reliable payment gateway integration, following the rules of PCI compliance. Ensure you can keep finances safe for both you and your customers. 
  • Reminders: Automated sms and email reminders, so you can notify your customers when they need to follow up with an additional payment, and give them a quick overview of how much of a balance is left. 
  • Vouchers and discounts: Promotions and discounts so you can boost customer loyalty and improve your chances of converting potential customers. Gift vouchers, discounts, and free trials can significantly increase your chances of sales and improve customer loyalty. 
  • Payment management: Payment management systems so you can track transactions, and collect data relevant to your tax, VAT, and other legal needs. They can also provide you with the tools required to create expense and payment reports.

3. Customer Management

Today, approximately 89% of businesses are competing primarily based on customer experience. More than anything else, how you manage and interact with your customers will define whether they become loyal advocates of your brand. Built-in customer management tools within your online booking system will allow you to engage, nurture, and retain more clients. Some of the must have features to look for include:

  • Data storage: The option to store customer details, such as names, contact details, and other relevant information about purchases and bookings. 
  • Automated messaging: Built-in tools for sending emails and SMS notifications to customers will allow you to keep them up to date on their bookings, and share promotions. Some automated solutions will also allow you to contact more customers through social media. In fact, using the best SMS marketing software available can be a great way to expand your reach and connect with more customers through social media and other channels.
  • Follow-up emails: Access to tools that allow you to send email follow ups to customers will allow you to nurture your clients and strengthen their relationship with your brand.
  • Segmentation: The ability to categorize customers into groups based on their location, spending habits, and booking requirements, for more personalized service. Segmenting your audience will allow you to deliver different offers to customers with specific needs. 
  • Exports: You should also be able to export information about your customers to other tools, like CRM systems and reporting tools, so you can share data with stakeholders.

4. Schedule Management

One of the biggest benefits of using an online booking system is it helps companies to keep on top of their schedule and ensure there are no overlapping appointments. Schedule management tools ensure you can make the most of your resources, and time. A good online booking system will simplify schedule management and manage bookings with calendar integrations, and automated workflows. Look for:

  • Scheduling: An integrated scheduling system will allow you to effectively manage and schedule customer bookings, based on your calendar and availability levels. 
  • Recurring bookings: For customers who may require more than one online bookings, the ability to set up recurring appointments can save a lot of time and effort. For instance, you might want to set up repeat meetings with a long-term client. 
  • Calendar view: The ability to organize and manage appointments in a calendar view will ensure you can see where you have gaps in your schedule. A calendar view will also allow you to block out time slots when services might not be available. 
  • Staff schedules: If you’re working with multiple different people in your team, you’ll need to upload separate schedules for each professional, and access them within your booking system.
  • Reminders: Automated notifications and appointment reminders sent via SMS and email reduce the risk of no-shows and wasted time or revenue. 

5. Reporting and Analytics

A good online booking system shouldn’t just give you the tools you need to run a more effective service, hospitality, or travel business. The right solution will also provide you with behind-the-scenes insights you can use to improve the productivity and performance of your team. Intuitive reports, dashboards, and analytics can help you to make more intelligent decisions about how to run your company and maintain positive relationships with customers. Look for features like:

  • Detailed reports: A good reporting system built into your online booking platform will allow you to dive into detailed reports about different KPIs and metrics. 
  • Exports: To share your findings with stakeholders and business leaders, you’ll need to be able to export the data you gather into various formats. Alongside standard written reports, you may want to look for options to create visual graphs and charts. 
  • Sales and revenue: Tracking sales and revenue isn’t just important for tax purposes; it can also help you to pinpoint key opportunities for growth. Use your booking system to find your most valuable services, and forecast future opportunities. 
  • Behavior and trend tracking: An intelligent online booking system will offer insights into the trends and behaviors of your customers. It can help you to understand which segments access different services at which times, so you can adjust marketing and sales strategies. 
  • Staff performance monitoring: Tracking the individual performance of each of your staff members shows you which of your employees is driving the most revenue. You can discover which team members may need more training, and which employees are lagging. 

6. Integrations with Other Systems

As companies continue to transition into the world of digital transformation, many of us are relying on a huge number of different software solutions and tools. The more disconnected tools your employees need to use, the more likely it is you’ll experience drops in productivity. Disconnected tools can also lead to data gaps which hamper decision-making. Look for an open and flexible booking system which supports features like:

  • Third-party integrations: A booking system supporting third-party integrations will allow you to align things like your contact center, ERP technology, and CRM with your booking technology, for an end-to-end view of business processes. 
  • Data sharing: The ability to share information with other team members through collaboration tools like Slack or task management systems can significantly improve productivity and workplace efficiency. 
  • Calendar syncing: Booking systems should always be able to integrate with popular calendar systems, to ensure you can keep track of the schedules of all of your employees. 
  • Social media integrations: The ability to connect with social media platforms through your booking system can improve your marketing and sales strategies. You can even use integrations to track requests and messages from customers on social media. 
  • Accounting software integrations: Integrating your booking system with your accounting software will allow you to maintain a complete view of your cash flow. You’ll be able to instantly upload useful invoices and payment information to your bookkeeping tools.

7. Online Waivers

Online waivers serve as a digital signature for clients keeping your business secure from liabilities. These digital waivers also have advantages of reducing huge load of paperwork, enabling faster checkins. As these are secured in the cloud system you can simply focus on core aspects of running your business. 

Choosing the Best Online Booking System

An online booking system can be one of the most important tools in your ecosystem if you’re running a service, hospitality, or travel company. Without the right tools, you’d struggle to monitor and manage all of the information you need to maintain profitability and serve your customers. 

Looking for the key features above in your booking system will ensure you can deliver a consistently exceptional experience to your customers, improve your productivity, and minimize the risk of mistakes. Choosing the right booking system can even help to make you more profitable. 

Try before you buy! Check the plans and pricings of different booking and scheduling platforms. There are some booking platforms that helps you out by providing a free plan to explore their features. By signing up to the free plans these platforms provide you can take informed decisions without wasting your money on a platform that doesn’t fit your needs.

Make sure you assess your booking management options carefully and ask yourself which features need to prioritize before you make your purchase. 

To deliver better online booking experience it is crucial to choose a platform that is flexible to all your needs. By investing in a reliable and efficient online management software like Omnify businesses can save time, money reduce risk of errors providing seamless customer satisfaction. From automating and simplifying your business to managing your resources the best way possible Omnify is there to help you. Get started for free

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated content creator and marketing expert focused on the technology, business, advertising, and ecommerce landscape. Since childhood, she’s been obsessed with writing and reporting. Rebekah is committed to staying on the cutting edge of the latest trends in sales and promotion, and loves experimenting with new innovations.

Manage bookings for your business easily online via an online booking platform . Here are the key features that your online booking system should have

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