How to add an online booking system for your small business

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Let your customers book online

Adding an online booking system to a website can be an easy way to land more customers. The ability to book with just a few clicks or taps can be more appealing than having to ring up to arrange an appointment.

This guide explains how you can add an online appointment booking system for your small business website.

1 Use an external booking site

One of the easiest ways to add an online booking system to your site is by creating an account with a third-party booking service and then linking to its website.

It’s quick and easy and the only technical knowledge required is the ability to create an HTML link.

However, there are plenty of disadvantages.

You’ll be directing your website visitors to another website. Once they’re there, they may decide to look at listings for rival businesses and book with them instead.

On top of this, you’ll have no control over the experience someone has on a third-party website, meaning if you pick the provider has a poor website or suffers technical problems you could lose out on bookings through no fault of your own.

You’ll also lose branding and marketing opportunities as the transaction will not take place through your site.

You may also have to pay a fee or percentage of a transaction’s value to the third-party site.

2 Embed the external booking site’s code on your site

If you use a third-party booking service, it may be possible to embed its code on your site.

This will take slightly more technical knowledge that just linking (you’ll probably need to know how to create an iframe), but it’s still fairly straightforward.

Embedding a third-party’s code on your site will remove the disadvantage of sending your visitors to another website, but the other problems will still be there.

You’ll still be relying on the third-party to provide a good experience, they’ll still be processing the transaction so you’ll lose out on marketing opportunities and you may have to pay to use the service.

3 Use a plugin or an app

Managing bookings via your own site will not only allow you to keep visitors on your own website, you’ll also be able to sign them up for things like email marketing campaigns because you’ll own the whole transaction.

Also, you won’t need to pay a transaction fee to a third-party (although you may need to pay for the plugin or app).

You’ll need to make sure your chosen solution does what you need it to and monitor it to make sure it’s processing bookings correctly.

If you use GoDaddy’s Website Builder, you can let customers book appointments via your website as standard. You can learn how to add an online booking system to your GoDaddy website here.

If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of booking plugins out there. Search the plugin directory for one that meets your needs and read the reviews to make sure it works as it should.

4 Use an API

If you want to seamlessly integrate a third-party website’s booking form on your own site, then using an application programming interface (API) may be a possibility.

The service you want to use will need to offer an API and you’ll need to know how to integrate it with your site (some coding may be required).

As with other methods of integrating third-party website’s booking systems, you may need to pay a fee or a percentage of the transaction to the platform you use and you may lose out on marketing opportunities.

5 Code a custom booking system

Coding a custom booking system is a major undertaking and as such it isn’t really suitable for the average small business.

This is the option you would choose if you were looking to build a website that was expected to take hundreds of bookings a day.

Summing up

It’s easier than ever to add an online booking system to your website. Just work out what you need from a booking system and then pick an option that meets your needs and your technical ability.

Don’t forget, if you’re an existing GoDaddy Website Builder customer, or you become one, you’ll get an online booking system as part of your standard package.