WordPress Appointment Plugins

WordPress appointment plugins make it easier to implement appointment setting on your WordPress website. These plugins may be especially indispensable when you are building websites for booking-fueled businesses such as restaurants', doctors’, dentists’, or personal trainers’ websites.

Appointments/booking plugins work by presenting a customized form that allows customers to easily book an appointment online. WordPress appointment plugins replace the need to force customers to call on phone, contact by email, or worse still physically avail themselves to schedule an appointment. Surveys show that 61 percent of small businesses have better scheduling with software. 

Booking plugins add important functionality to your WordPress website. But they are not without their pros and cons. Advantages of online scheduling include convenience, better resource/staff management, automation, and increased customer satisfaction. On the flip side, some customers may find online appointment setting to be difficult or cumbersome. It is possible that they will abandon the online appointment setting process after they have filled the form and instead opt to call - which can increase the risk of double booking. 

Customizability is a key consideration when looking for the right WordPress booking plugin. If you are building a gym website – for instance – you need to accommodate multiple personal trainers who have their own schedules listed on the site. A dental website – on the other hand – would require the developer to reveal the various types of services offered and allow customers to choose specific time slots. 

WordPress booking plugins come with an assortment of features to accommodate the requirements of various WordPress websites.

  • Calendar – sync with Google calendar and/or Outlook calendar. 
  • Intuitive interfaces – friendly user-facing interfaces (mobile and website) to enhance usability. 
  • Accept payments for appointments via PayPal, Stripe, or other payment processors.
  • Editable bookings – allow customers to view and edit their bookings from the front end. 
  • Searchable back end – allows website administrators to filter and view scheduled appointments from the WordPress dashboard. 
  • Customizable working hours – includes features to set more time between appointments, increase availability, remove holidays, etc. 
  • Email and SMS notifications.  
The list of available features varies from plugin to plugin. Some have a few handy features so you can achieve simple appointment scheduling while others come with advanced features such as integration with third-party tools such as Zoom and Zapier.

Usability appears to be a uniform trait among all the top-rated appointment plugins in the Wordpress.org repository. Website designers appear to be particularly bent on working with WordPress booking plugins that are simple to use and user-friendly on both web and mobile presentations. Since nobody wants to use plugins that are bogging down their website, responsiveness and performance are also important factors for developers.

Different pricing options are available for WordPress appointment plugins. Some are available entirely for free while others are exclusively premium. The majority though offer a limited free version that is available in the WordPress plugin repository plus a premium version that offers advanced features at a fee. Many developers choose to try the free version to get a handle of the plugin then upgrade to the premium version to unlock more features once they are already like it.

WordPress booking and appointment plugins can make appointment setting and scheduling easier, faster, and more accurate. This can lead to increased business sales from customers who would otherwise not tolerate hold times when calling a receptionist to book an appointment. Installing an online appointment plugin on a WordPress website can also lead to impulse bookings particularly if the website’s content does a good job at convincing people to do so.

Products

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Amelia

Amelia is a fairly popular and decently rated WordPress booking plugin. It is a lightweight system that integrates with WordPress themes via shortcode and supports diverse appointment-setting needs. It may take some time to figure out how everything falls into place but the plugin development system appears to be very supportive in this regard. The free version, Amelia Lite, is available in the WordPress plugin repository. It offers some very basic functionality and has an average rating of 4.2 (out of 5) from 192 reviewers. Compared to similar plugin, the pro versions of Amelia are competitively priced with annual and lifetime plans ranging from $59 to $586.

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BirchPress Scheduler

Birchpress Scheduler is an established and well-rated booking plugin for WordPress. It offers straightforward features and a short-code based functionality. One of the best things about this plugin is that it makes it super easy to capture PayPal and credit card payments without having to install a third-party payment gateway. The free version listed on the WordPress repository has an average rating of 4.5 (out of 5) from 118 reviewers. However, it is no longer available due for download (due to security isues) since it was last updated more than 2 years ago. The premium version of Birchpress Scheduler is competitively priced with annual plans going for $99 to $249.

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Simply Schedule Appointments

This is a fairly new but increasingly popular bookings plugin for WordPress. Simply schedule appointments is rated highly by users due to a minimal setup with a 5-minute wizard, and an organized admin dashboard that makes it easy to use. The plugin was launched about 3 years ago but has been ranked competitively in the midst of established appointments plugins. Simply Schedule Appointments offers powerful free version that has been rated 5 star by all 57 reviews on the WordPress plugin repository. While some errors have been reported with plugin loading issues and email delivery, these are not unusual for a product that is still evolving. The plugin's developer appears to be very active in responding to developer queries. Simply Schedule Appointments has a competitive pricing arrangement that is comparable to that of BirchPress Scheduler.

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Start Booking

Start Booking is a newer appointment scheduling plugin that supports a customizable booking experience. While not as matured as some of the other bookings plugins, Start Booking comes across as simple and easy to set up. They have a free version that's downloadable from the WordPress repository or their official website, but that has a less than impressive average rating of 4.3 stars from a bunch of users. Start Booking is a cloud-based platform that requires users to log in to the official website in order to manage booking actions. This may come off as an inconvenience for anyone who is looking to centralize everything in the native WordPress dashboard. The premium version of Start Booking is available within the price range of $25 to $75 (per month) - which is notably more expensive compared to some of the other bookings plugins.

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Booking Calendar

This is an established Wordpress appointments plugin that has been in place for over 10 years. It has a consistently impressive average rating of 4.7 stars from more than 475 users on the WordPress plugin repository. Booking calendar comes across as a matured WordPress plugin with powerful and flexible features and new updates released quite often. There is a learning curve involved before you can figure out the plugin but the vendor provides good support. The free version of Booking Calendar offers very basic functionality but users can also choose from multiple premium options to suit their specific needs.