Many people struggle with bookings and reservations, especially if they offer services to clients. One day they’ll have nothing to do whatsoever, and the next they’re busting themselves trying to do three things at once.
Well, there is a solution to this problem. BookingBug is a time management and scheduling tool that puts your clients in control of your work day. Read on for the full review.
What’s the Idea?
The objective of BookingBug is to help make time-allocation with customers or people you work with easier. Rather than building your timetable of appointments each day, your customers can build it for you. They do this by interacting with a widget or other plug-in on your website, this then adds their appointment to your BookingBug calendar. You then look at your customer-built calendar and interact with them at their chosen time. This whole process saves lots of emails and phone calls going back and forth when trying to organise time with people. You specify when you are available to work on your Calendar, and then clients can stamp their name on a time that suits them.
Once a customer has taken a slot, other interested customers see that time period marked as ‘busy’, so you won’t ever get double booked. This eliminates the issue I mentioned in my introduction, where you find yourself trying to accomplish three tasks at once. Without the risk of double bookings, your work day becomes a calm and softly-paced session of transitions between your clients.
Since BookingBug is a web service, it operates 24/7. Perhaps you are an American Web Developer who deals with clients the world over. Well, whilst you are sleeping in the US, your European clients can be arranging your work day for you. This means no more Skype calls or delayed emails across the world. You wake up and get on with your already organised day.
The calendar and booking system is configurable to pretty much any business type. For example if you don’t take appointments but instead offer classes and events, this can be reflected in your calendar settings.
BookingBug In Action
BookingBug has two interfaces. The first is the calendar which allows you to see when people want your time, and where you can announce to all your clients at once that a certain pocket of time is already unavailable. The second is the widget or other web interface your clients see that allows them to make bookings.
I knocked together a quick HTML file and dumped in the default widget code BookingBug offers. Here is the default Widget in it’s plainest possible state after I have clicked on a time slot. The reason the three entries for Tuesday morning are grayed out is that I took this screenshot at just after 11am on Tuesday, and people can’t book my time in the past.
I set my ‘working day’ from 9 to 5 in bookable chunks of one hour, but you can set up whichever hours you like.
If someone decides they want to book whatever service I am offering (e.g Psychiatry) at 3pm, they can click on the 1 hour appointment and pull up this window shown below. This is the booking window that the administrator can customise to their needs, such as adding fields, and writing messages or announcements relevant to their service.
If I went through with the booking, I (the client) get a confirmation email of the time and date, which is exportable to your own calendar. Below is the calendar window the host will see. If multiple clients use BookingBug, imagine this calendar littered with appointments of varying sizes.
Oh and remember the widget screenshot above? Later clients who come along to that widget would now see the Wednesday 3pm slot as greyed out because it has been taken. No details on identity are revealed, only that another slot must be used.
Where Could I Use This Service?
Of course having only HTML embodiment of a Widget would be a bit restrictive. So BookingBug offers a variety of ways you can integrate your calendar with websites. These include integration with Facebook, WordPress, Drupal, and Brownbook. This means that regardless of how you or your company uses the internet to acquire customers, there will be something to suit your needs.
If you don’t want to display an entire Widget on your website, perhaps you would prefer a solo ‘Book Now’ button which leads to your calendar? This is available too and may be better for some websites, especially if the BookingBug widget doesn’t fit in with your existing design.
If you have a smartphone, then you could also view your workday through either the Android or iOS Applications BookingBug offers for Free.
Can’t I Use Google Calendar?
Sort of, it doesn’t have quite the same management system. Google Calendar offers you HTML code you can use to embed your calendar into websites (if you make the calendar public). People can see when you are free, but I don’t think total strangers or unregistered people can add in their own appointments. They can invite you to their own events, and if you have the ‘Automatically include invites’ option enabled, it would show up on your own calendar. However this means that all of your clients need to use Google Calendar, which isn’t very practical.
BookingBug offers four service packages. The first is £14.95 per month for Personal use, i.e Individuals and Personal Businesses, the second is for small businesses at £24.95 per month, the biggest package is £49.95 and aimed towards moderately sized businesses.
The fourth package? That’s free! One or two features are held back from you, such as the ability to embed widgets in certain websites, but otherwise everything you need is there. If you decide that BookingBug meets your needs, I’m sure you would upgrade to a fully-featured package anyway. If you fancy trying the free version of BookingBug, click on the ‘Pricing’ option at the top of the screen, and then look underneath the ‘Concierge Set-Up’ row on that page. It’s hidden away, but it’s there.
Overall BookingBug seems to be a highly dynamic, robust and customisable scheduler. Explicitly focused on making the arranging of appointments with clients as fast and as hassle free as possible. If you dislike taking calls from clients and then going back and forwards about which days are good for you, then here is your solution.
For the Appstorm rating I’m giving Bookingbug 8/10. It meets a real need, and is an easy-to-use solution you can use on any website.