In the process of setting up a website for my parents, who own a travel company trying to come online, I came across the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment plugin by Tyche Softwares. Seeing as I regularly use the Canvas theme-framework by WooThemes for new websites, along with their flagship plugin WooCommerce, the option of using a booking plugin that is fully integrated with their system was quite appealing. This post is an overview of my experience installing, configuring and experimenting with the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment plugin with a final review at the end.
Installation & Configuration
Installation and basic configuration both are pretty straight-forward. The plugin can easily be installed just like any other by navigation in your WordPress Admin to Plugins > Add New > Upload and installing the zipped folder you receive upon purchase.
After the plugin is activated you will notice a new menu is available from your admin sidebar called Booking. You’ll want to click there to get started.
As you can see from the image above, there is not much to the global settings page of the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment plugin. It’s here that you are able to configure the language, date format, time format, calendar theme and a few other minor settings. The rest of the plugin’s settings are configured on a product-by-product basis.
There is still however one section of our new admin menu to explore before moving on. It’s the View Bookings page.
On this page, as you might imagine, you are able to track all of your bookings in an easily searchable backend archive. You are also able to view Today’s Check-Ins and Today’s Check-Outs; which promises to be particularly useful for hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts.
Creating A New Booking Product
To see the product-by-product features this plugin offers I went ahead and created a sample trip that prospective customers of a travel business like my parents’ might want to purchase. To do that, I went to the WooCommerce Products menu and selected Add Products.
After filling in some placeholder data for the WooCommerce product info, I scrolled down to the new custom fields under Booking. This is where the most powerful settings are configured.
Here I’m able to enable the booking date, allow multiple day bookings (with check-ins and check-outs). I’m also able to arrange for only specific dates to be available, or recurring weekdays (for services like haircuts possibly, where you’d want to have an ongoing appointment set up each week or month). I’m even able to lockout orders after a certain number, require advanced booking and a lot more.
For this specific trip I just wanted to make it possible for customers to choose their date range and check out. Which means I checked the boxes Enable Booking Date and Allow Multiple Day Booking. I left everything else as is, but I could have limited the number of orders possible, created a requirement for several days or weeks advance booking, set a cap on the number of days available to choose from, and finally, blacked out or excluded any days I might want to make off-limits.
And, if at any point I wanted to change any of those dates I set, I can do so by tabbing over to the View/Delete Booking Dates, Time Slots.
Now that all of the settings are configured on the backend, let’s take a look at what the front-end experience looks and feels like…
Below is the “Historical Gettysburg Tour” I’ve created. It’s $100 a night and I can choose my booking dates below the trip description, thanks to our new booking and appointments plugin.
As you can see, once I click inside the date box, a calendar pops out allowing me to select the date range I want.
After selecting my date range, I hit the plus symbol so as to buy two trips–because who wants to travel alone? And then of course, I click Add to Cart.
After this point the checkout process is the familiar one that anyone who uses WooCommerce knows and loves.
My Personal Assessment
When first looking into this plugin, my initial thought was that a fully fledged booking and appointment setting add-on to WooCommerce would be hopelessly complex. Thankfully, the exact opposite was the case. I found this plugin to be uncommonly easy to configure and use on a product-by-product basis. And most importantly, its simplicity did not make it any less capable of customizing itself to very particular needs.
Ironically, while a plugin like this one may be a good tool for a company like my parents’, I think there are far better use-cases out there. Such as barber/salon appointments, hotel/bed and breakfast booking, etc.
The only thing I would have liked to see in my version of the plugin (which appears to be newer than the version on videos and screenshots at the official plugin website) is a tighter back-end integration with the WooCommerce plugin.
I think it would be beneficial if in future updates the plugin menu is “folded into” the WooCommerce menu already there. Additionally, I’d love it if the reports and data generated by the plugin was formatted and displayed in the same location as the regular WooCommerce reports/data.
As far as critical notes are concerned, this plugin merits very few. Which is why my final conclusion on the matter is that if you’re in need of booking or appointment setting via your WordPress website, I highly recommend giving the WooCommerce Booking & Appointments plugin by Tyche Softwares a try.
If you’re actually booking new business then the price point is low enough at $79 to not be a big deal. Not to mention that the ease of setup means you won’t spend a great deal of time rolling out this new feature to your customers. You should be up and running in a matter of minutes! Which means you could seriously ramp up your business efficiency.
What are your thoughts on this plugin? Do you have any questions about it that I didn’t cover above? Let me know in the comments below!