Create an online booking system for accommodation
Use this tutorial to learn how to set up an online booking system for a guesthouse. You can adapt these guidelines to suit your own service offering.
A guesthouse is merely used as an example of a resource schedule that can be used to book whole days. It applies to situations in which one person at a time can book an item, space, time or other such resource. For example, if you need to schedule meeting rooms with additional office supplies this tutorial will apply just as well.
If you need to create an online booking system that enables more than one person at a time can book a space, such as a shared dorm room in a hostel, the “Capacity schedule” tutorial will suit your requirements better.
Making a reservation
In this example, an online booking system is created for a small guesthouse that offers a few rooms and requires guests to book amenities, such as towel sets.
This tutorial demonstrates the following customizations:
- using the online booking schedule as a simple accommodation booking tool
- sending customized email confirmations and reminders
- enabling online payment
- setting prices based on season and time left to book
You can view the end result of this online booking system on the Holiday Home Rental demo page.
Setting up the schedule in 6 easy steps
Use a build-and-test cycle to ensure your online booking system works as required. The best way to set up your online booking system is by using a build-and-test cycle:
Setting up a basic schedule using the New Schedule Wizard
Before you begin
In order to follow the steps to create your online booking system, you need to have a SuperSaaS account. It’s free and all you need is a valid email address. Log in to your account to reach your Dashboard.
Select the appropriate schedule type
Click New Schedule in the menu on the right of your Dashboard to start the setup wizard. You will be directed to the New Schedule Wizard where you can configure the default settings for your schedule. The first step involves deciding whether you require a Resource, Capacity or Service type schedule.
For this one-on-one online booking system, where the available time can only be booked by one person, select the Resource schedule.
Next, select the Booking or reservation system so that people are required to sign up to make a booking. For this type of online booking system, you would not want a Self service schedule as this would create a free-for-all system where anybody can make or delete bookings. This would be suitable for creating a conference room scheduler within a closed user group, for example. The Event calendar option allows people to see the schedule but not to make any changes to it.
If you have more than one resource to be scheduled, it will ask you to list them. A B&B may offer several rooms, in which case the second option, More than one: Multiple resources, people or places that can be scheduled concurrently is the best option to choose. In the list that appears, you can add the rooms that guests can book. Enter “Room 1” and click Add. Repeat this step for “Room 2” and click Next.
Name your schedule
The title you give to your online booking system in combination with your account name forms the URL that your clients will see in their browser when they use your schedule. Provide a short but descriptive name, such as “Rental Homes” and click Next.
You can always change the title (as well as your account name) later on but note that if you do, the schedule’s URL will change accordingly and you may need to inform your users.
The settings here provide a baseline for your online booking system. You can still change opening hours for individual days or resources.
Clicking Finish puts your schedule online. You now have a fully functional online booking system that you can further configure to enable online payment, customize emails and reminder notifications and establish seasonal operating times.
Trying out the schedule to see if it works as expected
To use your online booking system as an administrator, click Use in the menu box. This is only visible when you are logged in as an administrator.
Regular users will see the same schedule but with fewer options. You can also find Use by going to your Dashboard.
When you enter your online booking system for the first time you will be greeted by an empty schedule. SuperSaaS is incredibly flexible and can be set up to meet detailed requirements via the tabs under Configuration.
Create a booking
Click anywhere in the schedule and a New Reservation dialog window will appear. If this window is in an inconvenient place you can simply drag to a more suitable place on your screen.
Instead of navigating to the correct date in the main calendar, you can click on When to change it. By default, the system only asks for a name and a phone number but you can add additional fields or custom forms to collect more booking details. The New Reservation window will show a drop down menu from which you can select Room 1 or Room 2.
Click Create Reservation and the schedule updates to show the space in the schedule as occupied. If you would like to edit the booking, click on it to re-open the window and make changes. Be sure to click Update to save your changes.
Adjusting the configuration
Click Configure to go to the Overview page to see a summary of the different options you can change to suit your needs. On this page you can temporarily block the schedule or delete it entirely.
This tutorial focuses on the Resources and Process tabs.
Set up your required resources
The Resources tab contains the settings that define the resource(s), or “rooms” in this case, that you are scheduling for your online booking system. In the first section, you can add or delete resources. You could, for instance, add another room to the schedule.
Under Term used to describe an entry you can select a term from the list or use a custom term to refer to bookings. For a guesthouse, the term “reservation” is more suitable. This term will be used in all dialog boxes, help text and email confirmations.
The term used to refer to a “user” can also be customized, but this setting can be found on the account wide Layout Settings page.
Define user limits
You can limit the number of bookings that a guest can make by setting the Limit per user. When this maximum is reached guests can only change or delete existing bookings. You can select whether previous bookings should be included in the total or whether it should only include upcoming bookings. You can also specify a separate limit for the number of bookings that can take place on the same day or in the same week.
Determine booking length
For a schedule that can be booked for whole days, your guests will want to choose how many days they would like to book.
The next 3 options determine booking length in your online booking system:
- The client determines the length by choosing start and finish time. You can provide minimum and maximum durations to limit their choices.
- All reservations have the same fixed length. Simply specify this length as a default value.
- The client selects the length from a drop down list. When you select this option, a selection box where you can list the options. The accompanying instructions and help text explain how to specify the options.
SuperSaaS offers a broad array of payment options for your online booking system. This includes presenting prices, collecting credit card details (with the exception of Card Verification Value codes), handling online payments via PayPal or Stripe or offering a credit system. In addition to these payment options, you can offer various types of discounts and promotional offers. Whether you require payment at all can be configured under Process. The payment method can be configured on the Payment Setup page. More information can be found under Adding payment to your schedule.
Under Price, you can specify what you will charge for a booking on your online booking system. You can choose a fixed price or base the price on the length of the booking, the day of the week or several other factors.
If you charge a daily rate for the accommodation, select Depends on date, length or resource. After saving the page you can click the link Presenting prices to define daily and seasonal rates. For example, to raise the price by $50 in June you would define a price rule that says: “Perform action: Increase price by $50” if the date is “between 6/1 and 6/30”.
Under Time constraints, you can specify length requirements, buffer time and start times for your online booking system. You may want guests to book whole days, instead of hours and minutes, which is the default. When you select Round all times to the nearest day the user interface will omit the display of hours and minutes.
You may also want to set the minimum length of a reservation to 1 day. By default, the system treats whole days as the 24 hours running from midnight to midnight. A one-day appointment will have its beginning and end date on the same day.
If you set a buffer time to anything other than zero, the system will ensure that there is some unavailable time in between bookings. This time could for instance be used for cleaning in between bookings. The buffer time is not applied between opening time and the first booking or following the last booking, before closing time. In the Constrain start times field, you can list the times that your clients can select as a start time.
Note that if you don’t enter start time constraints, a booking can potentially start at any time, which could possibly leave your online booking system full of holes. If you set a suitable rounding time you can avoid clients booking irregular times such as from 2:07 pm to 2:23 pm. If you specify start time constraints as well as rounding times only the finish time will be rounded. In this example, enter “12:00pm” and “2:00pm” as the start time constraints.
You can further limit availability on your online booking system by specifying opening hours. You can go to the screen where opening hours are specified by clicking on Change opening hours at the bottom of the page.
Building on the basic schedule
In addition to the Resources tab, you will find Access, Process and Layout options for your online booking system. These tabs include access, notification and appearance settings and detailed information can be found via the general support documentation pages.
Define the user process
The Process tab can be found via Configure. Here you can add items that may need to be reserved in addition to the room, such as a towel set. You can also configure confirmation emails and reminder notifications.
Offer extras in a drop down menu
The customizable booking fields on the Process tab can be used to create drop-down menus in order to present a client with multiple options during the booking process. Drop-down menus are especially suitable if you offer optional services or extras that are available to the client at additional cost. A separate tutorial outlines how to set up a basic drop-down menu.
You can find detailed information about configuring these notifications under Configuring the booking process.
Testing the schedule from a visitor’s point of view
Test the scheduling process from a client’s perspective to make sure it behaves as expected. You will need to switch between administrator and user access, which is discussed in more detail under Testing the schedule you created. You can add lessons as a user and delete them once you have checked that the online booking system works.
Every online booking system has its own web address, which you can find in the Overview tab on the schedule’s configuration screen. If you want to direct a client straight to a specific schedule, then you can copy/paste your link from here. When a client opens the online booking system, they will be able to login at the top right corner.
Integrating the registration system into your website
Once you are happy with the way your online booking system looks and you have tested it to ensure that it behaves as expected for someone visiting your schedule, you are ready to direct people to it.
There are two ways to get people to your schedule:
- Create a link to your SuperSaaS online booking system via your own site.
- Embed the SuperSaaS page inside a frame on your own site.
SuperSaaS can be displayed to users in several ways. You can integrate it into your website using an iframe, used on a mobile device or just link to SuperSaaS.
Find out more about how to integrate a schedule in your website here.
Changing the appearance
You can use the space above the schedule to add images, provide a more elaborate service description or add instructions to your online booking system. If you’d like to change the schedule’s appearance or color scheme, there are several formatting options on the Layout tab. You can also add a resource selector to the schedule and select view types.
Using SuperSaaS day-to-day
Now that you have a functional online booking system, you might want to take a look at some tips on Working with your schedule day-to-day. Although you can design your own workflow with SuperSaaS, this section also focuses on a few common operational processes that may be of use to you.