As part of Massage Schools of Queensland (MSQ) Information System project, I had to study and test different kinds of booking systems. Some booking systems are more focused on Accommodation or Ticketing. I needed something more adapted to a Health Clinic. I narrowed my selection to three solutions: Bookly, Team Bookings and BookingRun.

I have defined the criteria upon which my final judgement will be made:

  • difficulty of setup
  • user-friendly interface
  • system restrictions
  • system usability
  • complexity and control over notifications
  • possibility of online payment
  • integration with WordPress users
  • interoperability with other plugins (such as WooCommerce)

The conclusion was quite surprising to me: not one of the existing solutions on the market was going to cover my needs for this project; there is a lot of custom development required to match MSQ’s way of managing their clinic. One major difference is the way these solutions usually allow you to select availability (or working hours) of practitioners. Most of them offer a simple Monday to Sunday form in which you can input the start time and end time each day. They consider this schedule to be stable and permanent over the year. Team Bookings is a bit different; it enables you to select the availability of practitioners in a more flexible way, you can plan a different schedule each week. Another issue is the possibility for practitioners to select their availability themselves. Most solutions only give this power to the admin. And in the end, none of the solutions enable the management of complex rules such as “All practitioners must work 20 hours per week” and I haven’t found any which provides Resource management either (for example: management of the treatment rooms).

The following table compares these three solutions based on the criteria listed above.

Bookly Team Bookings BookingRun
Setup Good Difficult:

–       Google account creation for every user

–       Calendar authorisation process (API key)

Good
Interface Good Mediocre Good
System restrictions Bad

Working hours are set as a repeating weekly timetable.

Mediocre

–       Cannot restrain to 6 simultaneous practitioners,

–       Cannot restrict to on-the-hour slot.

Cannot restrain to 6 simultaneous practitioners
System usability Bad

Cannot set availability.

Good Good
Student autonomy Bad

Practitioners cannot set their own availability.

Bad

Practitioners have too much freedom and can make mistakes.

Good
Notifications Good.

$0.12AUD/SMS

Bad.

–       No SMS notifications.

–       Not much control over notifications

Mediocre

Expensive SMS ($0.19USD/SMS)

Not much control over notifications

Online payment YES YES ?
User integration YES NO NO
Interoperability WooCommerce NO NO

BookingRun involves externalising the database of customers and practitioners. It’s much better if I can keep control of all my users in the same database.  I also would have absolutely no control over it; no possibility to extend functionality or modify behaviour.

Team Bookings is immature and the complexity of the setup is discouraging. It does not feel professional to ask every practitioner to create a personal Google account to be able to work at the clinic. Though I find using the functionalities of Google Calendar is a good idea.

In the end I went with Bookly and decided to custom develop the missing components.

Choosing a booking system for a health clinic