I recently had a client who need to book appointments. There are lots of plugins out there that offer this functionality, but she had quite a few requirements, including being able to book multiple appointments at one time, so I chose Appointment Booking Calendar for her. One of my favorite things about this plugin was it’s ease of use compared to other plugins I looked at. It limits the amount of customization you can do, but sometimes that’s a worth while trade off for ease of use.
There are 3 options with this plugin including a free option, a $50 option, and a $100 developer version. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using the $50 option because my client wanted the option to use coupons and wanted to offer services with multiple prices.
Setting Up the Calendar: Once you install the plugin, simply go to
Settings > Appointment Booking Calendar
and name your New Calendar / Item. Once that is done, you’ll see the item at the top, and just click on the Manage button to select your settings.
Appointment Times: Then you’ll see the tab that lets you choose the dates that the appointments are available.
In my client’s case, she runs a flea market that is open only on the weekends, so I chose Saturday & Sunday and those tabs appear next so that you can customize the hours there.
Then you have the option to add appointment times one at a time, or by adding multiple appointments at once. My client was booking once for the whole day, so we just set up one appointment at 10am (the start time of the flea market). Next to where you add the single appt time, you will see “max capacity allowed”. She will be renting out 60 tables, so I put 60 there and clicked the “Add Time” button. Other people who might have multiple appointment times, like salons, could use the “Add multiple appointment times” to add many appointments at once. Repeat this for each day you have available.
Next you will see the tab for Restricted Dates.
This will be used if there are any holidays or other dates that you might normally offer appointments but won’t because of the holiday. My client is ending her flea market in December, so I clicked on the dates that she will not be open and you can see they are highlighted in yellow.
Next are the Special Dates. If you are going to be open on a special date that you wouldn’t normally be open on, click on it here to add appointments to that single day.
Once you click on a date, the box will pop up to allow you to choose appt times. Note, if you then change your mind, you will need to click on the Delete All button to remove this day.
General Settings: Below this you will see options to choose the calendar language, 3 different style options, the date format, number of months to show at one time, choice for military time, and what day to start the week on. You have the option to display the price when they choose an appointment and if they should be allowed to use a quantity option. You can also choose what you want your submit button to say, which I think is a nice touch.
Payment: Next is the one thing I found slightly odd. If you are using the built in option to pay with Paypal (First, it seems a little odd that you HAVE to use Paypal in the free option. Only the paid option allows you to remove this and just let people book.) Usually you have to get the paid option to allow Paypal integration. Anyway, for pricing, you choose the minimum and maximum number of appointments that can be made at once. Then you have to type out the total for each quantity. Since my client’s flea market was running throughout the summer and fall, I had to set it up so that people could book up to 48 slots at once. (That’s a lot of math on my part!)
If I had one request, it would probably be to set this part up differently where you could just choose one price per slot and it would simply multiply this price per number of times. I am guessing the purpose of this is to allow for discounts when booking more than one appt at a time. Otherwise, Paypal integration was easy, you only need to put in your Paypal email address.
Then you can choose the pages to send your customers to after they successfully complete payment or if they cancel payment.
Coupons: The coupon option in the paid version is fairly simplistic. You can choose your code, the amount of discount, percent or fixed, number of times it can be used, and a valid until date. There is no option to apply it to a single appt, so if you are using the % discount, be aware that it will take the discount off all appts booked.
Notification Emails: Next is the option to customize notifications to administrators and users. Leaving the default is fine, but it’s nice to be able to customize with a custom header or signature. Note: there is an HTML option, but you must know HTML to use it. There is no wysiwyg option like in the post editor of WordPress. There is also a nice option to send out reminder emails before the appointment.
Captcha: There is also a captcha option if you begin getting too much spam.
Price Option Settings: Finally, there is a nice option to set up different prices. My client had two prices – one for food vendors ($150) and one for non-food vendors($250). I set the price of the appointments in general to the lower price – $150, and then added the additional amount for food vendors. You can see how I did it here:
That price in parenthesis is just for the customer to see the different prices. It is the first price that adds on. You can see how it look on the actual form here:
Once you’ve made all your changes, be sure to click on the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom. Then use the “Back to items list…” button at the top of the page to get back to your general settings page where you will find the shortcode you need to insert in your page or post to make your calendar show. If using a shortcode is too complicated, there is also a very simple add calendar icon that will show up at the top of your page/post editor. Simply click on it to add your calendar of choice.
Or you can click on the Bookings list button to see all your bookings.