Top 4 free online booking systems and their features

Published on 29/03/2022 by Sukanya Awasthi

Many businesses may possibly lose customers if they rely only on traditional methods like bookings through phone calls and walk-ins. An online booking system can help them take bookings through mobile apps and websites and potentially help increase sales.

Online booking systems can help SMEs accept and manage reservations online

Online booking systems are useful not just for huge corporations, but also for small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) working in different domains like the food industry, salon and spa industry, fitness sector etc. These tools can potentially help businesses save time and resources, allowing them to take bookings 24 hours a day without having to be available on call at all times. 

What is an online booking system?

An online booking system lets customers make appointments through a website and/or mobile phones. Such tools serve as technological advancements of agent-driven and offline methods of ticketing. An online booking system aims to offer ease of booking to users and businesses and could help reduce wait-times with instant replies through automated messaging systems like chatbots.

Online booking software are also known as reservation software or appointment scheduling software. Some typical features of an online booking system are online booking, payment processing, customer support etc.

In this article, we have curated a list of the best four free online booking systems which SMEs can use to streamline their booking processes. These software have been chosen based on the following factors, while the full methodology can be found at the bottom of the article:

  • Have an overall rating of at least 4/5 stars by users
  • Have at least 20 user reviews between March 2020 and March 2022
  • Offer a free version of the software
  • Meet the market definition of online booking system or reservation software

1. Bookwhen

Bookwhen can help businesses create a booking page and take reservations
Bookwhen’s class booking system to organise group classes [Source: Capterra]
  • Ease of use – 4.7/5
  • Customer service – 4.9/5
  • Features- 4.6/5
  • Value for money – 4.8/5

Bookwhen can be used by companies to organise activities, classes, conferences, courses, workshops etc. It allows customers to make reservations for one or more events and manage their own cancellations and rescheduling. The software allows businesses to generate promotional codes and offer discounts for group bookings as well as send reminders and notifications to clients. It provides a customer database to users with customer profiles along with their booking history. This customer data is exportable and can also be used for marketing outreach.

Bookwhen —in addition to conventional online booking functionality— also allows customers to make multiple bookings at once. It also allows users to accept payments online through their choice of payment gateway along with offering an offline ‘pay later’ function which can be used along with online payments. Online payments can be received via Stripe, Paypal, or WorldPay. The software comes with a free version and more information on the paid versions can be found at bookwhen.com.

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2. FareHarbor

FareHarbor can help businesses manage day-to-day customer bookings
FareHarbor’s dashboard displays different activities available for booking [Source: FareHarbor]
  • Ease of use – 4.6/5
  • Customer service – 4.9/5
  • Features- 4.6/5
  • Value for money – 4.8/5

FareHarbor is an online ticketing and booking software which lets users book tours, events, and activities, while also allowing them to track operations, bookings, and accounting in real-time. Bookings can be filtered on the basis of activity type, allowing users to see which activities and tours they would prefer to book. Upon joining the platform, users also get one-on-one training with FareHarbor’s onboarding expert to help them set up the tool successfully.

Using FareHarbor, tour operators may access client payment data and over-dues within the calendar while also keeping track of the equipment and crew directly from their dashboard. They can also use FareHarbor’s Health & Safety features to highlight important information such as sanitation and physical distancing regulations. Businesses can also generate advanced reports that will keep them updated on the sales, operations, finances, and accounting of the company. Additionally, FareHarbor allows businesses to set very specific permission levels. In this way, their sensitive data can remain safe from unauthorised users. The tool comes with a free version and more information on their paid version can be found at fareharbor.com.

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3. Skedda

Skedda allows customers to book rooms, desks, studios, labs etc
Users can make bookings through Skedda’s dashboard [Source: Skedda]
  • Ease of use – 4.8/5
  • Customer service – 4.8/5
  • Features- 4.5/5
  • Value for money – 4.9/5

Skedda is an online booking and scheduling system for the management of desks, rooms, courts, studios, conference rooms, coworking spaces, schools, studios, sports courts, community centres, or any other bookable area. The software allows businesses to determine the price of the venue and booking conditions etc, while also allowing them to accept online payments using Skedda’s ‘book now, pay later’ feature. 

Skedda also provides Scheduling Automation features using which businesses can automate routine and administrative tasks. In addition, the software allows businesses to view the availability of the spaces and also book directly from a live and interactive map. Skedda comes with a free version and more information on their paid version can be found at skedda.com.

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4. Smoobu

Smoobu offers bookings for vacation rentals
Smoobu’s cockpit feature displays relevant information at a glance [Source: Smoobu]
  • Ease of use – 4.5/5
  • Customer service – 4.6/5
  • Features- 4.5/5
  • Value for money – 4.5/5

Smoobu is an online booking system that helps businesses manage processes such as bookings and communications. Businesses may use the platform to create homepages for vacation rental websites and can include photographs, videos, or GPS locations. Rental firms may use Smoobu’s unified inbox and guest experience application to manage client interactions, such as inbound/outbound messaging and customised booking confirmations. 

Smoobu lets businesses communicate with their guests from one central dashboard, rather than having to log into different channels. The software also comes with a channel manager that allows customers to link the platform to third-party rental channels and sync data like minimum duration of stay, daily rates, and more. It comes with a free version and more information on their paid version can be found at smoobu.com.

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Looking for online booking systems? Check out our catalogue!


Methodology

The software mentioned in this article are listed in alphabetical order. For the free online booking system listed above, the following factors were considered:

  • They offer a free version of the software.
  • Have a minimum 4/5 star average overall rating.
  • The existence of at least 20 reviews of the software over the past two years (March 2020 – March 2022).
  • All of the above software match Capterra’s definition of online booking software: reservation and online booking software allows customers to book your services online, with access to real-time booking information and multiple secure online payment processing options. The software facilitates enhanced ease of booking as per the user’s choice, and reduces waiting times through instant response systems for greater productivity, both for the customer and the business.
  • All the above software have the following core features: online booking, booking, and payment processing.
  • Out of our resultant list of tools, we selected four best tools with the top average overall ratings of more than 4.5/5 stars.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Content Analyst for the UK market. Committed to offering insights on technology, emerging trends, and software suggestions to SMBs. Plant lady, café hopper, and dog mom.

Content Analyst for the UK market. Committed to offering insights on technology, emerging trends, and software suggestions to SMBs. Plant lady, café hopper, and dog mom.

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