Bookable Products

In a past thread about the much-anticipated Bookings+ plugin, Hakan mentioned:

"... any existing post/custom post/page is regarded as a "bookable product" and modified accordingly ..."

This is wonderful news; so many developers attempting WordPress booking solutions completely miss what an important opportunity that simple link, between post and bookable product, is.

I understand that Bookings+ is still under development but I would like to confirm that you are taking the logic of this link to its obvious conclusion: will the owner of that page and product be able to edit not only the product description but, also, the unique calendar for that product, on the post edit page?

Ideally, the owner should be able to click straight into each of his properties' edit pages and the editable calendar should be the first thing he sees, right at the top of the edit page, with the description text and other meta boxes beneath it.

This is extremely important because, in sites used by multiple owners, each one would only have access to their own edit pages and, therefore, only they could edit their calendars.

Several other booking plugins provide access to all properties' calendars via one central dashboard page, meaning that, if you have access to one calendar, you have access to them all. Practically speaking, this dumb but very common mistake rules out the use of these sites by anything more than one owner, which is a tragic wasted opportunity.

Bookings+ will be truly disruptive if it allows ordinary people to join forces and create small online communities of people offering bookings of various types without having to give 18% of every transaction to corporations such as Airbnb. I hope that Hakan and anyone else working on it understands that, to fulfill that potential, there must be a wall between the different users' calendars and I have a strong hunch that adding the calendar management to the post edit page is the most intuitive way to achieve that.

I would be extremely grateful for any responses from the developers.

    Hakan

    Hi,

    I understand that Bookings+ is still under development but I would like to confirm that you are taking the logic of this link to its obvious conclusion: will the owner of that page and product be able to edit not only the product description but, also, the unique calendar for that product, on the post edit page?

    Yes, you will be able to edit the calendar in addition to the title and content, if admin allowed you to do so.

    Cheers,
    Hakan

    GraphicThought

    Thank you Pranaya, thank you Hakan!

    That is wonderful news, Bookings+ is shaping up to be a phenomenal plugin.

    Hakan, have you read the massive thread in the Gravity Forms forum titled "Bookings, Appointments, Reservations and Rentals", discussing what people want from a bookings plugin and the problems with all the currently available WordPress plugins?

    It has been running for almost 2 years and contains almost 200 posts, by far the most active thread in the Gravity Forms forum, which should give you an idea of how much demand there is for a good bookings plugin - people were hoping that the Gravity Forms team would produce a bookings plugin, either as a Gravity Forms add-on or as a standalone plugin, but, unfortunately, that team got mired down in other projects.

    I hope you don't mind if I submit a suggestion. I have been involved in the online vacation rentals business for 14 years and have tried pretty much every booking system there is, not just in WordPress, but everything, including standalone systems.

    The two most vital features for any booking plugin that will be used in real world situations both involve micromanagement. Taking the example of vacation rentals, owners simply cannot use sites that do not include:

    1. Variable rates - ability to set different rates on a per-day basis. Here is an example of how the best Joomla booking plugin handles that: Jomres

    2. Variable Minimum Stays - the ability to set minimum stay lengths on a per-day basis. For instance, unlike hotels, most vacation rental owners do not want to accept one-night bookings, the change-over is too much work for one night's money, so, their minimum might be a 2-day stay during the week a 3-day minimum during the weekend.

    For example: they set Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as 2-day minimums, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday as 3-day minimums. If a booking overlaps with even just ONE day of the weekend, the 3-day minimum is required.

    Owners need this because, if they accept a 2-day booking that starts on Sunday and ends on Tuesday, they will probably not be able to fill Friday and Saturday - it is not worth their while to break up the weekend, and lose the chance to fill Friday and Saturday, unless the booking is 3 days.

    They also like to set higher minimum stays amounts during holidays (Easter, Christmas etc) and major conferences - they don't want to miss the opportunity to book out the entire week of the conference simply because some regular tourist booked one or two days during part of it.

    In the case of Jomres, the same micromanagent screen is used to set both the rates and the minimum stay for each day (Jomres is a great system but, unfortunately, it is Joomla only, the programmer has no interest in WordPress or awareness of how big the market is).

    Both of those features are vital because WPMU customers who provide a booking website without those features to clients (vacation rental owners) will end up simply not getting paid, because the owners will not be able to use the websites and will revert to using ink & paper or one of the corporate solutions (VRBO, HomeAway, Flipkey, Airbnb, 9Flats, Wimdu etc), all of which provide these standard features.

    GraphicThought

    Here is a screen shot of the Jomres tariff micromanagement page, apologies for the crappy resolution (this forum has extreme restrictions on image upload size) but I hope you will find it useful anyway, contact me if you want the original screenshot or further details.

    As you can see from the screenshot, you flip between setting, for each day:

    1. A price

    and

    2. A minimum stay amount

    ... the interface for both modes is almost identical.

    It looks confusing at first but that is mainly because it gives you 3 different ways to input the info:

    A. By day of week

    B. By date range

    C. By individual day

    Typically, I would start by using the day-of-week input to enter standard weekday and weekend prices. Then I would use the date-range input to enter higher prices for holidays, peak seasons etc. Then I would save the tariff

    Then I would flip over to entering minimum days and, once again, start by using the day-of-week input to enter standard weekday and weekend minimums, followed by the date-range input to enter higher minimums for holidays, peak seasons etc.

    In my experience, owners get the hang of this mental model fairly quickly and they love that it gives them the flexibility they need to jump in and make the necessary changes as their needs change.

    Hakan

    Hi GraphicThought,

    Thanks for sharing your valuable opinions. I always take user ideas into account.

    Yes, I had read the messages on GF before I started developing Appointments+.

    The functionality of tariff model is similar with the above example, however UI is different as this will not be used only for reservations, but for almost anything that can be booked (Though room reservation is in the defaults). So it will have a modular setting structure for which parts can be enabled or disabled depending on the needs of the business.

    Cheers,
    Hakan