Requirements for selecting an appointment booking payment system suitable for startups with no budget for “pro” versions.
Start up businesses with little to no budget need to be able to make money BEFORE they can pay for advanced features and test “pro” version plugins. I set out to find a free plugin which allows us to sell online appointments (virtual meetings, hangouts, consultations, etc.)
Ideally plugins would provide the following features for free:
- Accept Payment – Preferably via Paypal.
- Redirect After Booking to a Specific Page URL — Because providing additional information after booking should be easy, automatic, and easily fit into a sales funnel.
- Synchronize with Google Calendar — Because nobody wants to log into their website just to see if they got a booking recently.
- Shows buyer the times in their local timezone while fitting the calendar to the site operators preferred time-zone. This harder to find feature is necessary when selling digital appointments to people outside your local area.
- Allow Multiple Appointment Types — So you can sell more than one kind of service.
- Email Booking Notifications to Admin (optional but needed if #3 is not available)
I’ve looked at every appointment booking, scheduler, and calendar plugin on all seven of the search result pages for “Appointment Booking” at wordpress.org. Below are the few possible options for getting started booking paid appointments on your website.
I did focus on plugins which allow payments but there are ways to take payments using other payment systems (manual paypal buttons or woocommerce) and then present the booking system after purchase. In that case if using a non-payment supported plugin you would use a seperate payment system which provides buyers with a user account to log-in and access the booking page — though there is still a risk of people booking more slots than they have paid for — which is why I’m only looking at the appointment scheduling plugins which support accepting payments (and at no charge to get started making your own sales).
The plugins which were “free trials” or otherwize did not seem fitting have also been excluded from this comparison list of start-up suitable plugins:
|Plugin Name||Payments||Redirect||Supports Time Zone Difference for Online Appointments||Google Cal||Multi Service||Reminder Notification||Special Notes:|
|ScheduleWing||Yes||Email + SMS||Fatal error: Cannot use BookingChatwing\Object as Object because ‘Object’ is a special class name in /plugins/booking-chatwing/classes/DataModel.php on line 4|
Good in emergency startup “Pay me after if your satisfied” Russell Brunson type offer.
|Appointments||Paypal||Yes||NO 🙁||Yes||Has BuddyPress Integration for local cult leaders. Good for local services where clients and provider are in the same timezone. |
Single time zone only so not suitable for virtual meeting scheduling.
|10to8||Stripe (fees, but after payment received)||Yes||Yes||All notifications reminders of upcoming appointments for clients and admin went directly to spam folder in gmail! -Unacceptable Reputation. Also has free SMS’s.||Free to 100 appointments per month. Highly annoying 10to8 branding on the checkout pages makes you seem like a low quality poorly funded startup. A great free solution to get started but does make you seem to poor to have your own brand’s checkout. I may use it anyway to get my first sales revenue (if I have to).|
|CozyCal||Stripe||Yes||Unlimited||Emails||Displays a “schedule appointment” button with modal scheduling system on ALL or ONE of your website pages. Not positioned inline with content on the selected page so not a great fit for a sales funnel. Google Hangouts Integration! $12/mo|
|Simply Schedule Appointments||No ($)||no?||Yes||Yes||Notification (but not reminder?)|
|Pinpoint Booking||Paypal||Yes||(Display conflicts in admin) . Local business based booking system.|
|Book appointment online||annoying menu invasion|
|Book Like A Boss||YES! Paypal + Stripe + Square!||WordPress not required.|
|Appointment Booking Calendar||Paypal||No||Yes||Single time zone only so not suitable for virtual meeting scheduling.|
|Booking Ultra Pro||Paypal or Stripe||$50/Year||$50/Year|
|Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling Plugin by VCita||I remember having problems with VCita a while back, I’m afraid to waste time trying it again.|
|Ultimate Appointment Booking & Scheduling||Paypal|