Are Free Booking Platform Plugins Any Good?

Are Free Booking Platform Plugins Any Good? 1536 868 Cate Triendl

There’s a lot of talk about cutting costs these days. What better way to approach that than looking for free alternatives to some of your biggest expenses? 

With all the free technology and website plugins out there, some must be at least semi-decent, right?

We wanted to find out more about what you don’t get with free versions, and what that might cost you in terms of customer experience and ultimately, revenue.

For this, we looked closely at 4 popular free WordPress (WP) plugins and compared the most important booking features against each other.

4 Free WP Booking Plugins Compared

FeaturesReDi Restaurant ReservationFive Star Restaurant ReservationsWPCafe Quick Restaurant Reservations
Number of free venues11Unlimited1
Reservation restrictions (block times/days/length)XOnly for days and timesX Yes
Data ExportXXXX
CustomisableYesOnly for the form, no custom fieldsYesOnly for the form, no custom fields
 Automated reservation confirmationYesYesYesManual only
 Booking remindersXXXX
 SupportYesYesXX
Integrations XXYesX
 Additional notesNo analytics or statisticsNo front end page to display bookingsNo front end page to display bookingsNo daily or monthly calendar view

7 Reasons Why Bookings Platforms Are Worth Paying For

Here are a few important things you might be missing out on by relying on a free booking platform plugin

Data access:

You often have to pay to access customer data and/or are not able to download it for further usage. This means you can’t contact customers post-visit to ask for feedback or send them offers to bring them back.

Integration with other tech tools:

If you can’t access or download customer data, an integration would at least allow you to use your data to some extent. Without any of those options, you are massively missing out on future revenue.

Limited live or backend support:

You always have to install the plugin on your website yourself, which can sometimes come with its own challenges and takes up time. Plus, not all providers offer free customer support. 

Multi-venue:

The majority only have one venue included in their free version. Any additional venues cost extra. Same for having multiple users for your account.

Customisation:

Custom fields (i.e. dietary restrictions, extras) are vital to make your customer experience more personal. Quite often you can only choose from preselected fields, even in the paid plans.

Customer communication:

Most of them don’t allow you to send email/SMS booking reminders. This can lead to an increase in no-shows and high operational costs.

The same applies to the post-visit feedback request, which isn’t available on any free plan. 

Automation:

Technology should make our lives easier and help us save time. Booking reminders and review requests are one of the simplest marketing automation to set up but are not included in any of the free plans.

Takeaway

Free booking platform plugins might satisfy some basic booking requirements. However, the money you save on the free versions often costs you more further down the line. 

Being unable to contact customers to drive loyalty is one of the biggest issues here. Your loyal customers are the ones that bring in new customers. And with their connection, the process starts over again. 

In this case, it is definitely worth investing in a more complete booking system. Make sure to check out our buyer’s guide including the key features you should look out for when choosing a platform.

Get more tables booked, and manage your front-of-house operations efficiently. Book a demo with our team to find out more about Stampede Bookings.

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