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How to Take Time-Based Bookings on Your WordPress Website

Booking Form Example

If you’d like to give your site visitors the ability to make a time-based booking on your website, this guide will show you how.

Using a free WordPress plugin, you’ll be able to publish a booking form on your site that will let visitors choose a service, then select a date, followed by a time slot.

Depending on how you configure the plugin, the booking will be either automatically approved or require manual approval.

Whether you’re running a service business and would like your customers to be able to book an appointment online via your own site; you’d like to take bookings for facilities you manage, such as meeting rooms; or something similar this guide is for you.

Why Create an Online Bookings System?

Booking Form Example

There are many benefits to implementing an online booking system. The main one is that your customers, clients, or other people can make an appointment or booking at any time, regardless of whether you’re available to facilitate the interaction.

Some of the services these plugins work well for include:

  • Time-based room bookings.
  • Meeting and call scheduling.
  • Personal training sessions.
  • Fitness club or class attendance.
  • Salon and other health and beauty-related treatments.
  • Professional services, such as photographers, coaching, and doctors.
  • Group events.

You can also use the online booking functionality to record any bookings made in person or via the phone in a centralized place where you and your team can conveniently view them.

Another benefit is that a good WordPress booking plugin will also send automated email notifications to remind people of their appointment. These tools often integrate with third-party calendars. This all helps to increase the chances of people turning up for their appointment or booking.

About the WordPress Booking Plugin

For this guide, I’ve chosen the freemium Amelia Appointment and Event Booking Calendar for WordPress plugin.

There are many plugins in this category, but Amelia gets my pick due to its good features, ease of use, and well-designed front-end booking interface.

The free version of this plugin is ideal for handling time-based bookings, such as appointments or bookings that last hours rather than days. A plugin like WP Hotel Booking might be a better option if you want to create an online system for multi-day bookings, such as hotel stays.

However, as all of the free booking plugins are limited, especially compared to the paid alternatives, finding a tool that works exactly the way you want is challenging. Due to this, you’ll need to test out a few options until you find one with the functionality you need.

But if you want to accept time-based bookings on your site, for a range of different services, all through a user-friendly and well-designed interface, the free version of Amelia is a great choice. If you like the free version but need more functionality later, you can upgrade to the reasonably priced paid version.

How to Take Time-Based Appointment Bookings with WordPress

Here are the steps involved in adding the ability to accept bookings through your WordPress website.

Install the Plugin

To get started, log in to your WordPress dashboard. Then install the Amelia plugin by clicking on the Plugins > Add New menu item and searching for Amelia.

Click on Install Now and then Activate once you’ve found the plugin.

Once activated, the plugin will add an item to the sidebar menu in your WordPress dashboard.

Create a Service

The first step is to create an item that can be booked. With this plugin, these items are called Services.

To create a service, click on Amelia → Services from the sidebar menu in your WordPress dashboard.

From this screen, you can view any existing services as well as create your own. First, though, you must create a category for your services. So click on the Add Category button and create a category that describes your services.

For this example, I’m creating a room booking system, so my category is called Rooms.

Once you’ve created at least one category, you can create a service.

To do so, click on the Add Service button.

You can enter the Service name from this screen and choose the category. As visitors to your site will see the service name, choose something they will recognize and understand.

You can also set the duration for the booking of this service. This is how long each booking will last. You can also add a price if it’s relevant to your service.

Uploading an image via the Gallery tab is also an option. When ready, hit the Save button to make the service available.

Test the Booking Form

Before going any further, it’s worth testing the booking form to get an idea of how the plugin works.

To do so, create a new page on your site or open an existing one for editing. You can create a new page by clicking on the Pages → Add New menu item.

Give the page a title, such as Booking Form, and then click on the Block Inserter button. Typing Amelia into the search field will show all the blocks associated with the plugin. Click on the Amelia – Step-By-Step Booking block to add the form to the page.

Now, click on Preview in the top right area of the screen to see the booking form.

You will see that the form has three steps: Service Selection, Date & Time, and Your Information. This lets the user choose a service, select a date and time, and enter their information. When the user has completed those steps, they’ll see a confirmation message and the ability to add the booking to their calendar.

Now that you have a better idea of how the plugin works, you can go back into your WordPress dashboard and configure the settings so that the booking better meets your requirements.

View the Booking

Before returning to the plugin settings, you might want to view the booking in your WordPress dashboard. To do so, click on the WordPress icon in the top left corner of the screen.

Then click on the Amelia → Appointments menu item.

The Appointments area of the dashboard lets you view any bookings made through the form. From there, you can change the status, such as from pending to approved, and make other changes to the booking – or delete it — by clicking on the Pencil edit icon.

Configuring the Booking Options

If you want to now make changes to how bookings and appointments are handled on your site, you can do this from the Amelia sub menu items.

Some things you might want to change include the following:

  • Create additional categories to organize services (Amelia → Services).
  • Add more services for visitors to book (Amelia → Services).
  • Create customers who can make bookings (Amelia → Customers).
  • Customize the booking confirmation email notifications (Amelia → Notifications).
  • Choose a different form of design (Amelia → Customize).

Other Things You Can Do with Amelia

The Calendar (Amelia → Calendar) view inside your WordPress dashboard makes it easy to see scheduled bookings.

You can manage bookings from the calendar view, such as editing and deleting them.

Amelia also supports events. Thanks to this, you can create an event that visitors can book. You can create a single or multi-day event from the Events area of the plugin (Amelia → Events). The event will then be accessible from the booking form on your site, letting visitors book their attendance for it.

Premium Features of Amelia

The above functionality of Amelia is available as part of the free version of the plugin. However, you can do much more with the paid version, including:

  • Create multiple locations.
  • Collect payments for bookings.
  • Issue discount coupons for bookings.
  • Enable SMS notifications.
  • Integrate with Zoom for video appointments.
  • Create multiple employees.
  • Add buffer times to appointments.
  • Customize the booking forms.

The online demos of Amelia demonstrate some of the ways the paid version of plugin can be used.


Now you know how to set up online bookings on a WordPress website using a free plugin.

As mentioned, the free WordPress booking plugins are pretty limited in their features, and each one works for a specific type of booking rather than a good general, all-purpose free option being available. Therefore, you’ll need to define your requirements and then check to see which free plugin meets them to find the right tool.

Alternatively, paying for a good premium booking plugin will likely let you do everything you need.

However, the free version of the Amelia plugin is a solid option if you want visitors to your website to be able to book services or make similar types of appointments.

If you have any questions about this topic, please leave a comment below.

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