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Booking plugins for WordPress

Wordpress Booking Plugins
I received an enquiry email on 3rd Feb 2013:

Our goal is to sell local products and tickets to different tours such as Kayaking, Skydiving, Boat Tours etc through the WooCommerce system. We would like to manage all products & tours through the WooCommerce UI and display all of these for-purchase items in the WooCommerce front end.

The one thing that we are missing is the ability to associate a series of date/time combinations with each WooCommerce product (tour) so that for instance “Joe User” would be able to purchase three tickets for a Kayak Tour on February 14th at 2PM. It looks like this could theoretically be handled through the use of product variations but it seems like that would not be the most efficient way to manage this, as we would need to create virtually unlimited combinations of date/times for each tour (especially for tours that recur throughout the year) Additionally this would not allow the purchaser a clean calendar-based interface from which to select the desired date/time of the tour.

This was then converted to a project where we built the WooCommerce Booking & Appointments Plugin. The website we built this for is ActivityKauai. It’s a wonderful website to book your tours if you are travelling to Kauai.

It took us about 4 months to complete this project. About 1 month after that for us to make some changes so we could release it as a plugin.

Since then, we have released around 10 version upgrades to the booking plugin & 6 addons for the booking plugin.

Why is this story important?

The point here is to highlight the time & energies spent so far for the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment plugin. But why would I do so? The reason is that in this post, we are going to talk about Booking plugins for WordPress (not WooCommerce).

One important aspect that I came across while working on the WooCommerce Booking & Appointment plugin is that there are hardly any good booking plugins for WordPress & the fact that Bookings in itself is a very varied market.

This just isn’t me saying it – during the course of developing the WooCommerce Booking Plugin during 10 months in 2013, people who have been following the WordPress Booking space for over 2 years also share those same views. I saw a thread on Gravity Forms with over 200 replies over a period of 2 years – the thread was all about booking plugins in WordPress. Eventually the thread was closed by the administrator.

Studies reveal that WordPress is used on anywhere between 15 to 20% of websites on Internet. That’s a huge market.

Absence of a solid booking plugin for this market is a huge opportunity for anyone willing to tap it.

My idea of a booking plugin for WordPress is similar to Easy Digital Downloads. If you don’t already know what EDD is, it’s a plugin for WordPress that allows you to sell digital downloads (for free). The base plugin is free. The extensions & themes are paid (and some free too).

Our revamped website (http://www.tychesoftwares.com) is based on Easy Digital Downloads. Previously it was working on WP Ecommerce.

With the inputs that I have got from some friends & my own assessment so far, an EDD like plugin for Bookings would be ideal. It would work directly with WordPress, without the need for any other ecommerce plugin like WooCommerce, WP Ecommerce, etc.

So where are we with the above idea?

That’s the only thing where I’ve gotten to so far with regards to this.

One of the agendas for the year 2014 is to build such a plugin for handling Bookings in WordPress. I know it’s not a small project like any other plugin. It needs to have a solid & scalable architecture to build addons on top of it. It needs to have clean code like EDD has.

Perhaps the first step towards it would be to declare that we want to build such a plugin.

The goal by the end of 2014 is to have a booking marketplace (like EDD) for WordPress. There is no plan as of now as to how will we proceed with this.

Hopefully the plan will be built sometime in the month of Jan 2014.

Any ideas on how to proceed with this would be welcome.

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