An online booking engine allows your business to improve customer experience, increase your bookings, and keep your calendar full.
Jun 16, 2020
5 min read
Jun 16, 2020
5 min read
What’s your preferred booking method? Do you like to call a business on the phone or use a self-service tool to send a message or make a reservation by yourself? Chances are you chose the latter option.
And you’re not alone -- nearly 70 percent of consumers said that they'd choose to book online if a variety of booking options were available, compared to only 20 percent who would choose to book by phone.
In recent years, there has been a drastic shift away from phone calls and towards using an online booking engine. Although booking over the phone works fine, consumers have been introduced to a better alternative: booking online.
Consumers prefer using a booking engine because it saves time, allows for faster communication and better answers, calls are viewed as inefficient, and there are a variety of benefits to digital communication that phone calls will never be able to compete with.
What is a Booking Engine?
A booking engine is a software as a service (SaaS) application used by businesses to provide customers with the opportunity to make a booking online. It’s designed to provide a quick and convenient online booking experience for customers.
Every booking engine has two sides. The first is the back end and the customer-facing side. The back end is used by businesses to set up, manage, and review bookings. The second is the customer-facing side, which enables customers to use a self-service booking tool to schedule an appointment themselves.
Booking engine software updates in real-time to make sure that all bookings, customer information, prices, services, and availability are accurate and up-to-date.
Booking engines also have the ability to collect credit card information and work with an online merchant service or payment gateway to process payments. This means you can collect payment ahead of time to reserve a booking or put a deposit down, which reduces no shows.
How Does a Booking Engine Work?
An online booking engine works by plugging into your website and processing secure online bookings made through your page. The information is then transferred to your booking management system so you can access and manage the bookings.
For the booking engine to work, you have to add the system to your website so guests can see your real-time availability, self-book the time that works best for them, and with some booking engines, even pay in advance for their reservation online.
Once a booking is made online, the booking details are recorded in the system and the availability is updated immediately so that no one else can reserve that time. You and your employees also have access to this so you can see the availability in each other's days.
The nice thing about a booking engine is that everything is stored in the cloud so you can view, manage, and update your bookings on any device, anywhere you need to.
Why Customers Prefer to Use an Online Booking Engine
Booking online has been the preferred option for quite a few years now. And it's no surprise why. Providing a self-service booking tool offers benefits that customers -- especially younger generations -- want for a variety of reasons.
Customers are Searching Online
Nowadays, almost every customer does online research prior to making a purchase or booking a service. About 88 percent of consumers do research before making a purchase or booking decision either online or in-store.
That’s because it gives them the chance to check out the business, see if it's a reputable brand, read reviews and find the price. Customers are already using the internet to do research, so it makes sense that the next step would be to book directly online. By adding a self-service booking tool to your website, it'll make the process simple, easy, and instantaneous -- how can a phone call compete with that?
Booking online is easier. A booking engine simplifies the process and allows customers to book anywhere, anytime that works for them. This means they can book after hours, from any device or while they’re multitasking -- this kind of flexibility isn’t an option with over the phone bookings.
When a customer schedules a booking online, they will usually receive an appointment reminder through SMS text or email. A good booking engine will be able to send your customers booking appointment reminders automatically and handle rescheduling and cancellations so you never have to worry.
An online booking engine also reduces no shows because it sends a reminder to customers for their upcoming appointment so they don’t forget and gives them the opportunity to cancel if they have to. This makes it easier for customers who can’t make the appointment to cancel ahead of time without ever having to pick up the phone and time for the business to refill the spot.
Customers are in Control
When customers book online with a booking engine, they are able to choose what they book and when which minimizes the risk of error and allows them to book more confidently. They are given access to your availability and can choose a date and time that works for both of you.
This self-service option allows customers to work around both of your schedules without having to inconvenience anyone. This will improve customer experience and make it an easier process on both ends.
Giving the customers control will also help you increase your online bookings, boost your revenue because of more booking and fewer no-shows, and result in happier customers who are more likely to turn into loyal brand advocates.
Use a Booking Engine to Grow Your Business
Not only does a booking engine save your customers time, but it also frees up your day with automated booking management and communications. The booking software streamlines the process and allows you to manage bookings with ease -- it’s a win-win as long as you have the right booking engine.
Consider GoSite’s Booking tool, which is a complete online booking system, fully customizable to fit around your business, service, and processes. It’ll help you keep your calendar full and your day efficient. This is a great option for any kind of business looking to increase their online bookings.
Use our online booking engine to take control of your calendar -- start booking appointments when you’re available and let GoSite handle the rest.