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Mandatory Booking Code – Product Update June 4th 2017

Release 23 of BookingHawk.com adds more flexibility and adaptability to the ever popular online booking system. This release sees two significant changes move into our live site. So without further ado…

Mandatory Booking Codes

For a while now, it has been possible to allow your customers enter codes at booking time to either:

  1. Get a discounted booking
  2. Bypass an otherwise mandatory booking deposit

The latest  release sees the addition of mandatory booking codes. This feature means that a customer cannot attempt  to make a booking for your service unless they are in posession of a booking code. This feature means that the online booking system is now suitable to for a room booking system.

The following screen shots demonstrate how this new functionality operates:

room-booking-system-step-1

Step one of the booking process remains unchanged. The user selected the date, time and asset (in this case room) that they wish to book

room-booking-system-step-2

Step 2 of completing a booking which requires a mandatory booking code. A user is required to enter in a booking code. This code is controlled by the administrator of the business. The code can be amended, edited or remoed by the admin at any time.

room-booking-system-step-3

Once the user has entered in a correct and valid code, they are then presented with the final booking screen. They may now complete their booking.

Control How Much Of Your Calendar Your Customer Sees

Previously, you could limit the amount of your calendar that your customer saw, only in months. This latest release facilitates you to set the limit in days, months or weeks. This is a useful feature where your assets are in high demand.

booking-system-day-control

A new control set allows a business to have a higher degree of granularity around how many days their customers may view their calendar in advance. Here, the business is observed to set the limit to 2 weeks.

best-booking-system-for-days

This 2 week control is reflected on the business profile page. Here we can see that a customer only has 2 weeks visibility into the booking availability of the business.

online-booking-software-configuration

In the above image, the administrator can be observed setting the amount of visibility to 5 days.

5-day-visibility

The 5 day visibility setting can now be observed on the business profile page which the customer sees. The calendar and visibility in the dashboard is unaffected.

And The Rest…

Additional updates include:

  • Configurable email setting for appointments. Now a customer is always emailed their booking information and the business admin can optionally add a message that will be included with each email
  • Updated auto booking emails with more accurate hyperlinks
  • Enhancement to event booking notes
  • Improved product branding with the replacement of Booking Hawk with BookingHawk.com
  • More information about customer/patient/case notes added to the homepage of BookingHawk.com
  • Updated invoice template
  • Updated terms and conditions
  • Updated privacy statement
  • Order added to the timetable overview page in the business dashboard
  • Manage Booking page will no longer return bookings that are in the past to a customer. The business admin can still see all past bookings in the dashboard
  • Option granted to admin for whether or not they display the appointment end times to the customer
  • Fix added for missing style on event booking management page for customer
  • Ability added for an event attendee to book more than one place at a time when making an event booking

Online Booking System For Classes

From speaking with facilitators and organisers of many different types of classes, we understand the pain involved in enrolling people into your class. Your phone rings at all hours of the day and night, (which, lets face it, is worse than not ringing at all). People are busy and finding less time during sociable hours, to call you up and enrol in your class. When they do call, you jot down their details, confirm the dates and tell them you are looking forward to seeing them on the start date. All going well, on the first day of your class, 100% of the people whom called you, turn up. From our research, it is likely that things don’t often run as smoothly as this (if you would dare to call the above process smooth!)

Allow us to introduce…

Online Bookings For Classes

Using our secure online booking software, you will find that organising classes can be a hassle free experience. Our system will enable you to allow your clients to self-manage their bookings which mean your phone will be ringing less, leaving you to get on with your life! Our online software will also provide you with an accessible anywhere dashboard where you can easily manage your class bookings. From our dashboard, you can:

  • Quickly view enrolled attendees
  • See who has paid and how much they have paid
  • Set up a new class/event in less than 60 seconds
  • Print off attendee lists
  • Add notes to attendees which will appear against their name anytime they booking
  • Easily send an email to all attendees in a class
  • Quickly send an SMS to your enrolled clients
online-booking-software-for-classes

This is how your bookings page will look to your customer. (Click for a larger view)

 

What sets our class booking software apart from the rest is our undying commitment to customer support. We actively encourage our class facilitators to get in touch with us as often as possible. If something in the system doesn’t make sense to you, chances are it doesn’t make sense to others. Tell us about it! We love to think of clever ways to make our system better, your life easier and your class booking system as efficient as possible.

online-booking-system-for-classes

Add all of your available classes to BookingHawk.com so that a user may book the one that best suits their interests.

When you are logged in as the administrator of the system, you can create new classes, edit ongoing classes (eg, reduce/increase capacity etc) and carry out a whole range of tasks. We pride ourselves on making our class booking system as easy to use as possible. Our dashboard screens have been designed to be easily navigated and configured.

create-new-class

This is the screen that you will see when you are creating a new class that you would like to take online bookings for

Register your business on BookingHawk.com today and within minutes your classes schedule will be online and available for bookings! You don’t even need a website and we will be happy to step in and help you if you would like us to. Go on, get your classes online today

Outsourcing Development For Your Startup

This piece, written by BookingHawk.com founder Niall Smith, originally appeared on Irish Tech News.

Some of the circles that I move in contain many founders and entrepreneurs in the making. I recently had a conversation with another founder about how difficult it would be to start an online or technology-based business without a technical background. Given that I come from a technical background myself, I thought that I could give some advice on the subject. Specifically, here are 10 things that a founder should consider when outsourcing the development of their online business.

1. Non-Disclosure Agreement

When you hire developers, you are about to share your idea with them. You will need to be as in depth as possible so that the developer(s) can do what is known as ‘requirements gathering’. It is in your interests to tell them as much of your vision as you have imagined. Therefore you should have them sign a non-disclosure agreement.

2. Physical Location

Many people I have spoken to have suggested that they can just get someone in India to develop their software thus saving them thousands in development costs. I have worked with developers of various cultures and backgrounds and from my experience, no nationality/culture is better at writing software than any other. It all comes down to the team and the individuals. If you have done due diligence and are sure that the best team for you is based abroad, then so be it. However, even with great tools such as Skype and other remote meeting services, there is no substitute for visiting the office of your development team. Imagine for example that three weeks into your project, your team discovers a potential issue with how your system is supposed to work, or perhaps a new piece of legislation is signed into law. This would require some thorough discussion between you and your team. It would be much easier to visit their office, speak in person, sketch ideas on whiteboards to come up with a solution then have emails flying over and back attempting to arrange a time to meet online, a time that is not bedtime in your location or theirs.

4. Building Software Is Not Like Building A Wall

With software, adding a new developer halfway through the project does not immediately increase the productivity. New developers will need time to understand the type of system that is being built. They will likely need to familiarise themselves with the dynamics of the team and in some cases get used to some software tools that they have not worked with before.

When building software, if you want to keep your budget on track, you will likely not be able to change your mind about certain features/pages halfway through the project build. It may seem like a simple thing to add a new button to a web page, but often, there is much work to be done behind the scenes to make sure that button does what it is supposed to do.

5. Build A Website, A Mobile App Or Both?

You should think carefully about what form your online business will take. Will it be an app? Will it be a website only? Perhaps it will be an app and a website. Where possible, my advice is to start with a website and here is why. When a website is being written, there is considerably less work involved in getting that website to display nicely on a mobile than there is in developing an app that can be downloaded from the app store. Doing this ‘mobile optimising’ of the website means that it will display nicely on all mobiles, whereas an app needs to be developed for Apple and Android operating systems.

Another reason for my advice is something known as an API. Don’t worry about how technical it sounds. All an API is, is a way for your application (website) to talk to other applications.So if your website is built with some good API’s the development of a mobile app will be much easier. It will also ensure sure that the data on your mobile app is as fresh and up to date as the data on your website.

Lastly, when your website is built, you can analyse how it is being used. Once you find the top 3 things that users do on your site, your mobile app can be developed with this in mind. Meaning the buttons to do these three things are prominent and not buried deep in a menu somewhere.

6. Future Use

Ok, for now, you only want your application to do one simple thing. In the back of your mind, you think that once it is launched, you’d like it to be able to carry out another thing too. Whatever your vision, it is important you call this out as early as possible to you developers. The more your developers understand about your visions, the more flexibility they can build into your system. This does not mean that they spend weeks half building out parts of your system that you may possibly (but probably won’t) use somewhere down the line. Instead, it just means that the plumbing is in place should you ever need to add an extra bathroom.

7. Ongoing Costs

There will be an initial outlay for you to have your software program built. However, you will also have ongoing costs. So for example, with BookingHawk.com, we need to pay a monthly hosting fee for our program to be accessible on the internet. We also need to purchase our SSL certificate every year which is needed for us to securely process payments. We also need to pay to use the domain name BookingHawk.com. The cost of your ongoing fees will depend on the type of application that you have built, but it is something you should ask your developers about.

8. Reputation

Ask your potential developers to tell you about projects that they took on in the past that did not work out. If they are happy to discuss such projects, ask them for the reasons of the failures. Ask them what steps they have taken to avoid such failures in the future. You are interviewing someone to hand over a lot of money. Do not let them fob you off or overwhelm you with technical jargon.

The best way to predict future occurrences is to study past events. I advise you to ask for a list of projects that your team has delivered before. Then call up the people that own those projects. Ask them what the development team was like to work with. Ask them about the finished product. Did it do everything it was supposed to? What was the quality like? For example, did it display ugly error messages if something went wrong or did it handle issues gracefully? How was the follow-up support from the development company? Did they reach out often to see how everything was going or did they disappear into the sunset once the money was handed over? This brings me nicely on to…

9. Maintenance Contract

Even though I am an experienced software developer, I still make the most stupid mistakes you could imagine. These mistakes sometimes (not often!) make their way, all the way through our testing and quality checks and into the live system. When something like this happens, it requires a fix AKA an update AKA a patch. No matter how good your developers are, somewhere down the line your system will require such an update. Be sure to have agreed on prices with your team so that you cannot be held to ransom once such an update is required.

10. Open Source

In software, a concept exists known as ‘Open Source’. Building software with Open Source tools and languages is free. Not only this but because of its popularity, finding developers skilled with Open Source software is somewhat easier than finding developers skilled in bespoke commercial systems and languages.

In my opinion, it is best to have your system built with Open Source software. This will mean that it will be easier for you to maintain and extend your system once it has been deployed.