When searching for the right WordPress calendar plugin, you’ll want to start with your own checklist of features. I hope this post will help you with this task a bit.
If you are looking to add appointment functionality to your WordPress website, it’s essential to understand what types of WordPress calendar plugins exist and what niches they are sharpened for.
The market offers a wide range of the WordPress calendar plugins packaged with all manner of tools, so they share many features and can be considered interchangeable, but still they differ in scope and detail.
Some other common names for these plugins you can come across are WordPress scheduling plugins, timetables, booking plugins, appointment reservations, event bookings and more.
To choose a suitable solution, you need to know what to look for. Let’s highlight a few essentials that will help you in your search.
When choosing a plugin, there are two important things you need to consider. First, your business niche. From this standpoint, you can think of and search for the types of plugins that include, but are not limited to:
- Appointment booking
- Property / space booking
- Equipment booking / rental plugins
Depending on the niche, the plugins offer different core time slots that you can sell or rent out:
- Hours (hourly bookings) that as a rule imply any time frame up to 24 hours.
- Days, when one day is a minimum time slot.
Some plugins include both, needless to say.
But this is not always an advantage since you’ll need to deal with a more complex and complicated software which at parts is made to solve the problems of others, not yours.
Specific types of bookable items
So what types of real slots can you sell and what WordPress calendars do they require?
- Events (concerts, seminars, tours — online and offline) display the timetable and calendars of events.
- Spaces (hotels, vacation rentals) deal with the property availability calendars.
- Services (salons, lessons, hospitals) display the booking calendars that allow you to pick and book available slots.
And if you are rapid-fire going through a lot of plugins, it’s easy to miss important information and end up with an inappropriate solution.
So what else to consider on the preparation stage?
From my experience, the following list presents some other essentials business owners who deal with the appointment/booking functionality need to consider sooner or later:
- Integration with third-party services
Do you work with a team and need to connect their and your Google or Apple calendars to the booking functionality on your site? This will help you automatically sync all your bookings across different platforms and share information on your bookings with your employees. A good way to reduce operational interactions with the staff members and clients.
For the property owners, you might need to connect your WordPress site calendars to such online travel agent giants as Booking.com or Airbnb. In order to do this, check whether the plugin supports any sort of a channel manager or at least the iCal synchronization.
If you teach, you might want to integrate Zoom or other video conferencing tools directly with your site (e.g. when students book online webinars on WordPress).
The point I’m making is that you might need to come up with your own list of tools you’ll need to integrate in the future.
- Payment gateways
If you plan to accept online payments, it’s of top priority to see whether the plugin supports those local gateways your potential clients use and the cost of the integration of the former. Some plugins include popular gateway integration for free, others require you to pay extra. Do the math.
- Multi-location and multi-branch functionality
If you operate in different locations or manage several shops and need different employees to be assigned to different places, make sure that the WordPress calendar plugin supports this facility out of the box. Because some plugins are quite limited from this perspective.
- User area
Some businesses want clients to be able to login and see their past or upcoming appointments, events, etc. You need to check this in advance because far from every WordPress booking plugin provider offers a user-area integration.
- Localization and translations
The vast majority of WordPress booking and appointment plugins have a quality English version, but if you need software in a different language, make sure the plugin offers an easy way to translate its system texts or even comes with the ready-to-go translations.
- Design tweaks
Make sure you have control over the design — search forms, calendars, etc. it’s very important for the software to look well so make sure you can adjust it to the look of your site. The best way to go, from the design aspect, is to choose ready-made WordPress themes with the integrated booking plugins — this ensures all the design is work is already done by professionals and you don’t need to do a lot of workaround.
WordPress calendar plugin examples
To be honest, there are tons of plugins of this kind on the WP market — they quite often share the functionality basis but often differ in design, booking experiences for clients and the management tools for the site admins.
But still let’s go through a few popular ones.
MotoPress WordPress Appointment Booking Plugin
The plugin is optimized for hourly bookings of appointments of different types. It’s a perfect solution for those time and service based businesses that want to allow customers to book online and offline appointments. I worked with this plugin and plan to do a more in-depth review of it soon.
The plugin allows you to add the availability calendar, which allows prospects to choose a service and time and book it right away. On the backend, it has all the tools for creating employee schedules and managing bookings.
MotoPress also offers the solution for the rental property needs — the Hotel Booking plugin, which offers one night as a minimum booking slot (the plugin is the WordPress leader in the lodging business industry).
Amelia Booking is a loved booking calendar WordPress plugin since it’s made to perfectly deal with unlimited services, employee scheduling system, multiple locations, client areas and all sorts of the industry-standard facilities. It will also fit the needs of multi-chain businesses.
Above all the functionality advantages, the Amelia Booking plugin is perfectly designed allowing you to create a better feel of an expert service on your website. So in terms of design, Amelia definitely has its intrinsic individuality.
This WordPress booking calendar plugin allows staff members to create their own accounts and manage bookings assigned to them (for communication and updates, there are SMS notifications and Google calendars to sync bookings).
This old standby that has been around since 2009 is the most downloaded free WordPress calendar plugin. By default that means you can trust their expertise since they have many years under their belt when it comes to the reservation software.
This booking calendar plugin for WordPress is rather multipurpose since it has solutions for the hotel bookings (night time slot) and appointments (hourly time slot) on offer. A free version of this plugin will suffice for a small business website with a few services.
Although some calendar design ‘renovation’ wouldn’t go amiss.
This is another free WordPress calendar plugin that allows you to display availability of your properties and enable clients to book free slots.
It comes with a very simple and user-friendly calendar design with a legend that displays booked and available dates. The free version allows you to create just one calendar. The Pro version of this plugin opens up many more opportunities as to the number of calendars you can create, the calendar view and design, languages, connection to the third-party travel platforms and more.
The plugin is rather optimized for quick and simple bookings and showcasing a traditional daily availability calendar.
This WordPress calendar plugin is made for the rental property businesses.
It is a two-in-one solution: it allows you to embed availability calendars to the already built site accommodation pages (no matter what theme or plugin you created them with) and serves as a channel manager for syncing all bookings across the platforms where you can potentially rent out the same accommodation.
The plugin allows you to add and customize the calendar design and paste its shortcode into the appropriate property page. In a separate menu, you can setup iCal synchronization to bridge your WordPress site with the external booking platforms.
The prospects will see all available/unavailable days in a website calendar.
This WordPress appointment plugin is by default created with WooCommerce, allowing you to sell products and services in addition to appointments and other bookings.
The plugin is geared to many niches, ranging from a rental property, lesson booking to equipment rentals.
The WooCommerce Booking and Appointments plugin is optimized for single-day bookings, multiple-day bookings, fixed time frames, and recurring reservations. The plugin focuses on the availability quite deeply — you’re allowed to block dates and times, weekends, months and seasons.
Salon Booking WordPress
The Salon Booking plugin is virtually a multipurpose appointment booking plugin. It’s best suited for beauty salons, hairdressers, tutor bookings, home services, rental needs, etc. In simple terms, it’s made for hourly bookings for any type of service.
The plugin can be used by small businesses with several service providers as well as big chains with more than one branch in different locations, the latter each with their individual management and employee system.
The plugin has a good reputation and also offers such unique features as translations into other languages and the pricing model that gives you many addons with the core plugin.
The BirchPress plugin can work equally well for hourly bookings and dates; it can also be used for unlimited locations, providers and services. It provides you with a user-friendly and feature-rich mechanism of creating employee schedules.
BirchPress supports the cross-sync for bookings via iCal allowing your employees to sync their Google or Apple calendars with their appointments and always have all booking up-to-date.
Of course, this is not the ultimate list, you can do your own research and google for even more plugins. The number of available WordPress booking calendar plugins confirm the impression of the product saturation on the WordPress market, especially in popular niches. But less is more so sometimes I wish there was a smaller number of plugins. However, if you have any life hacks or any expertise to share on the topic, the readers will definitely appreciate it.