Booking websites are a popular option for businesses such as hair salons, tattoo shops, massage and therapy locations, beauty and nail salons, fitness studios, and yoga studios. Rather than relying on a disparate collection of tools for appointments and classes, a booking website can seamlessly plug into your website, helping to drive more business, simplify scheduling for clients, and save your business valuable time and money.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to add a booking platform to your existing website, this guide will help you learn how to set up an easy online booking solution from start to finish.
What is a booking website?
A booking website allows clients to reserve and book various types of services or activities with your business. Most booking websites let users make appointments and modify or cancel online without having to call or go to a physical location. These websites may also be able to collect payment for services, fully or partially, at the time of booking to hold a specific time slot.
Many booking tools require users to log in to make and change appointments; one of the key benefits of Square Appointments is that it doesn’t require a user login to work, but users can create one if they choose to. Clients can set appointments with your business any time they are ready, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Appointment-booking websites often include scheduling capabilities based on staff, service, and time. Square takes this a step further and also allows waitlisting for bookings. Some booking sites also allow users to rate and review service providers, which can help others make informed decisions. One difference between Square and some other booking sites is that Square allows you to create a homepage, sell items online, and take bookings; many others don’t integrate those levels of functionality into one tool.
Reasons to use a booking website
A strong booking website can make it easier for a business owner to manage business and day-to-day tasks. In addition to ensuring appointments are easily booked and managed, here are some other reasons to use a booking website:
Generate leads or acquire new clients: A booking website can be shared online and by current clients and can help you connect with prospective clients when they are ready.
Book consultations: By offering an introductory appointment online, you can connect with new customers.
Create operational efficiencies: A booking website saves time that would otherwise be spent by staff answering phone calls, emails, or in-person requests to set appointments.
Save money: Businesses upgrading from taking phone calls to taking automatic bookings can see cost savings.
Make your business discoverable on search: Because appointment pages are likely to be popular on your website, they can have extra search engine value, helping you get discovered online.
While booking sites are often associated with appointment-based businesses like health care and beauty, they can also be used for retail and food and drink-based businesses. If you have that type of business, there are some additional reasons you might use a booking website:
Book fittings: Certain types of businesses, such as tailors or clothing boutiques, can use appointments to set fitting times for customers to help keep in-store traffic moving with ease.
Set up pickup times: Appointments can be beneficial for businesses where customers pick up products, such as a frame shop, to ensure that orders are ready when customers arrive.
Schedule tastings or special events: Restaurants or wine shops can use a booking website to set times for special tastings or events so that crowd flow is controlled.
What businesses benefit from having a booking website?
Not sure if your business needs a booking website? There is practical application in a wide variety of industries. Almost any company that takes phone bookings can benefit from switching to online bookings.
Business types that should consider using online appointments include:
- Full-service salons (hair, nail, skin/esthetics)
- Medical spas
- Independent yoga, pilates, or barre studios
- Retailers and food businesses
- Boxing gyms
- CrossFit gyms
- Tattoo shops
- Piercing studios
- Pet groomers
- Escape rooms
- Custom-fit retailers including bridal shops, suits, etc.
- Professional services including tax accountants, mortgage advisors, solicitors, or web designers
Choosing a setup for your booking website
If you are just starting a website for your business, the first step is to decide on a domain name and register it. Square provides hosting if you don’t already have an existing website and allows you to connect your custom domain.
You have three choices for building a booking appointments website:
- Option 1: Create a simple webpage.
- Option 2: Add booking to a new, full-service website.
- Option 3: Add booking to an existing website.
Option 1: Create a simple booking site with Square Appointments
Square Appointments can help you create a simple online booking site with just a few clicks so you can start taking appointments immediately.
Your online booking site can be a simple webpage where you list business hours and get bookings that sync with your calendar. It’s included in your Square Appointments subscription and can be set up right from your online Square Dashboard.
This option is ideal for a new business or a business that doesn’t already have a website and needs only the most basic booking options to streamline operations.
Here’s how you do it:
- From your Dashboard, click Online Booking and Channels.
- Then choose Enable Online Booking.
- Click Manage to edit your business details, service category and order, and view booking flows.
Option 2: Create a custom, full-service site with Square Online
A custom, full-service website gives you the design freedom to showcase your brand online and provides a dedicated, more sophisticated website for service businesses. You can create a free website with Square Online and allow clients to book appointments, purchase items, and stay up-to-date with your business. Bookings and orders from your website are automatically synced with Square Appointments and your point-of-sale system. Everything from colours to fonts to styles can be customised so that every element of the website design looks and feels like your business. It’s a customised, all-in-one solution.
This option is great for small to medium-sized businesses that already have an online presence or are using Square as a point-of-sale solution. It’s also ideal if you need more booking features, such as creating appointments at multiple locations or offering a wider variety of services and options.
Here’s how to get started with a custom Square Online booking website with Square Appointments:
In Square Dashboard, click Online Booking and then Channels.
Select the Square Online website option, then click Preview and Edit to begin building your booking website. During first-time setup, Square automatically generates a website; this can take a few minutes.
Customise your website specifications, including location, service list, colours, and designs. You can change as much or as little as you want, giving you full control of everything about your booking website design.
When you have everything set up in the way you want, click Publish so that you (and others) can see your website.
Option 3: Add booking to your existing website
If you already have a website, you can add Square Appointments booking to your existing site without having to start over. Square Appointments has a booking widget that you can add to practically any website — even if it was custom-built — as an easy way to incorporate appointments into your existing online infrastructure.
This option is often popular for businesses that already have a custom-built website and want their clients to stay on their website to book.
It’s easy to add this option to your website:
Log in to your Square Appointments Dashboard and then click Online Booking and Channels.
If you have multiple locations, select the location you want to manage and navigate to “Add a booking flow to an existing site.” Click Get Started.
There are multiple setup options for integration with your existing website. Choose the one that makes the most sense for your business:
Option 1: Get a booking flow URL that you can add to your website by clicking Get URL and selecting a specific location if you have multiple options. Copy the URL, and you can paste it anywhere on your current website. (We recommend adding a link in the main navigation or menu to make it easy for customers to find.)
Option 2: Create a button in Square and add it to your website by clicking Create Button and selecting the proper location if you have multiple locations. This allows you to create the HTML for a button without coding. Choose a button colour, text, shape, and font. Copy the HTML and embed the button on your website or in emails.
Option 3: Embed the booking flow into your website using the Square Appointments booking widget. Click Get Embed Code, select the location you want to create a widget for if you have multiple locations, and copy the code provided. Then paste the code directly where you want the widget to appear on your website.
Option 4: Add a button to your email signature by using the Create Button option in Option 2 and pasting it into the email signature preferences for whatever email client you regularly use, including Outlook or Gmail.
How to promote your booking website
Now that you know how to make a booking website, you need to promote setting appointments with current, past, and potential customers. A strategy that includes organic and paid promotions can help you reach the greatest number of people effectively.
Ways you can promote your booking website include:
Add a booking button to your Google Business and social media pages to make it easy for social users to create an appointment with just one click.
Create social media posts and share links for booking features. Make sure to showcase the ease of booking online and the customer benefit of selecting their own appointments anytime from anywhere.
Run paid ads, such as Google Ads, to reach customers searching online for your product or service. Often, Google Ads can be a cost-effective paid strategy for a local business.
Create content to help your website rank in organic search (SEO). A strong website with content people want to click on can help make it easier for customers to find you in search engines. Make sure your website includes keywords related to your business and the services you provide, and that you have online bookings or appointments available.
Provide a quality customer experience to encourage word-of-mouth promotion. Delivering a great experience makes it more likely that your most loyal customers will share information about your business with others.
Email existing customers to let them know that online booking has been added to your website. Square Marketing even allows you to send automated campaigns via email to customers following a one-time setup.
Square Appointments is the all-in-one solution for business owners looking to add an online booking option to their website. There’s immense value for customers when they can set and manage appointments online when it’s convenient for them, just as there is significant value for you to have your bookings automated.
Square Appointments is easy to set up for new businesses or first-time users and works with existing websites if you are already online but don’t offer booking yet. Getting started just takes a few clicks.