WooThemes has been working on their Bookings extension for quite a while. They had the idea for Bookings before WooCommerce was WooCommerce, and had some form of the product even in December 2011. They wanted to make sure they did it right.
Currently, there are few options for bookings and appointment management for WordPress website owners, and definitely not that integrate seamlessly with their popular WooCommerce eCommerce platform.
edit: There actually is another booking and appointments WooCommerce plugin, which I did not see before publishing this post. Though it's still quite significant to see one come officially from WooThemes.
On Tuesday, WooThemes unveiled Bookings. Here's the introductory video:
Bookings is a pretty thorough product right out of the box. It allows site visitors to view bookings through a calendar or list interface. It also has resource handling so that, for example, one “bookable product” can have three rooms, each independently bookable through the same product. Honestly, the WooThemes launch post and Chris Lema's rundown of the plugin will showcase the plugin's features better than I can.
This is also WooCommerce's most expensive extension to date. Bookings is $249 for a single site license, though for five and twenty-five site licenses it doesn't go up that much. The extension is also on sale in this introductory period for $149. It's a good time to grab the developer license if you know you'll want this product down the road.
One thing that was striking to me right away was the lack of a demo. And I'm not the only one. About ten commenters are asking for a demo. It's honestly quite difficult to see the user-facing side of Bookings without one. The WooThemes team said they didn't utilize a demo because they didn't want to limit Bookings to a single use-case, but they quickly changed their tune based on the number of requests, and say multiple user-facing demos are on the way to showcase what WooCommerce Bookings can do in the real world.
Developing WooCommerce Bookings
Bookings isn't a simple product. That's part of what took so long to create it. They do have 6 new documentation pages already created for it though, to help guide both site owners and developers through using and extending the product.
The development of WooCommerce Bookings is being managed by Mike Jolley, the original and lead developer of WooCommerce itself. Claudio Sanchez will also be working alongside Mike.
Seven contributors have taken part in the development of Bookings thus far. You can see the considerable activity here in a screenshot of the Github contributions page:
My takeaway on Bookings
I think WooCommerce Bookings can be a huge win for WooThemes. If they manage a $250 average sale, I could easily see them selling this a thousand times per year (around 3 per day), which would net around $250,000. The sheer number of people that book their time and could benefit from a product like this makes that target seem a little low even.
It seems much less niche even than their Sensei course product, which appears to have been a success so far. If they can tame the support log, I think Bookings could be a great long-term enhancement to their offerings.
I like that Bookings is $250. Chris Lema notes in his post about Bookings that he previously recommended BookFresh, which is about $20 per month, and it's not on your own site. If Bookings can compete with the feature set of a product like that, then it could be great for them.
Also, some people would choose Bookings by default just because it can be self-hosted, is extendable by developers, and integrates with other WooCommerce features and extensions. And WooCommerce powers 12% of all eCommerce websites now according to Builtwith, though they certainly have room for growth within eCommerce sites in the top 10,000 and 100,000 sites. Their numbers are based off of the entire internet.
As WooThemes co-founder Mark Forrester told me in my interview with him last year, WooCommerce is now a vast majority of their revenue, so I think we'll continue to see them build rather large products on top of WooCommerce for various customer types.
You can learn more about Bookings on their product landing page.
I look forward to learning more about how Bookings is doing six months from now, once it's had time to get out to market and they get feedback from real users.