The Rush for Scheduling and Bookings
With COVID-19 lockdowns letting up slowly in some places, the liked of Gym’s, Restaurants/Pubs, and other indoor social gathering commercial locations have had to adapt to managing the influx of their clients so as not to crowd their facility and break social distancing guidelines. This means they have had to do bookings and manage the duration of a client’s stay so as to allow others to rotate in.
Websites going to Booking Apps.
If it wasn’t already inconvenient to work around the closures, shortages of goods, and a general disruption of our regular lives, now we all have to adapt to re-engage the various facilities in an orderly fashion. Booking app additions have been popular for curbside pickup as a way for businesses to still do some online business while their doors are closed (BOPIS), but now, Booking Apps are key to manage the volume of clients inside a facility.
Bookings may sound easy, but they can be complex in the nature of management and access to various staff. Some apps are more structured than others, so choosing the right App for your website will take research.
Example of Booking App’s process
Using a WordPress App that is well established and built for the platform, and is granular enough with incremental features so as to pay for only what you need: https://wpbookingcalendar.com/ This is example is extensive on how you control bookings, and how you can allocate the features to your business.
Taking a restaurant for example that used to seat 40 tables, but due to COVID-19 guidelines of 2meters can now only seat 15 tables (5 are 2 person, and 10 are 4 persons) – this will then translate into 15 resources.
15 resources will have to be available between the opening, and the closure of the establishment. Bookings of 2hours per person are going to limit the time for their stay. This will include cleaning and prepping of the tables at the end of a meal (1.5hours of service, 0.5hours of clearing/cleaning/setting the table).
With the Booking app, one has to avoid the double booking of the same resource – make sure that "setting" is correctly set. It does affect the speed of the page, however, it is a must for avoiding issues with clients.
Last but not least, the page to set up must be clear on the booking page to explain what resource is allocated to how many people can be seated and that the request for the booking will be approved in due course.
The human factor
With the online booking procedures inevitably there will be those that refuse to adapt to the times and book online – therefore a phone number should be provided for those than need to call in. The person manning the phone will need to do the booking for them, recording in the notes of the booking who took the call and when.
Then there are those that are just unhappy that there are restrictions on the time of stay, or that they have to book to start with, expecting society to return to pre-COVID-19 norms. The re-alignment of customer experience and expectations using online tools takes time and patience. Demand is the catalyst to get clients to adopt a new norm – if you don’t need the service, then just go without is the government’s position of imposing the guidelines.
Critical vs. Nice to haves
Whereas before, going to any store on a whim was easy enough, now it takes research if they are open, how to engage with them, and do you really need that product or service. Nice to haves are taking a back seat for the time being since the critical must-have items are taking more time to obtain or be attended to given the precautionary regulations to abide by. By making your establishment easier to reach, schedule a booking, and coordinate the goods/service with an easy payment option will reduce the frustration and friction the regulations have to your revenue stream.
Having stock and diverse products
With supply chain disruptions, there is nothing more frustrating than booking a visit and be disappointed that what you came for is not there. Be up-front with customers, know when the re-stocking dates are available – and be accommodating by asking during the booking process what they are interested in during their visit. It is a good custom to respond during a booking approval that what they are looking to obtain is available, and if it is not, offer alternatives.
Customer experience with Bookings
With most of the population today using a smartphone, one can expect everyone to reach your website and find the booking page. How it is presented and managed can make all the difference. Test your booking procedures before they are launched. Ensure that the key personnel that needs access have it, and whoever is managing the approvals research the interests of the guests before they show up. This does take some training, possibly a dedicated device on top of all the COVID-19 distancing guidelines that the store had to implement.
Booking Apps by key platforms
Most platforms have various booking applications to chose from – identifying what’s best for your business requires an understanding of your business processes, client expectations, and the operations adaptations to implement it. With this in mind, you can then navigate the points above, and deliver a good experience – and yes, it is yet another item to manage, and a new time investment to deliver to your clients.