Advanced Scheduling Options

Out of the box, Simply Schedule Appointments does a pretty good job of handling your usual appointment-booking situation where you’ve got regular business hours week to week and want to accept appointments on a regular schedule.

However, there are lots of special situations where you want to do something a little different. For example:

  • Take interview appointments during a three-day job fair
  • Offer a limited-time offer of a free consultation session
  • Schedule times for portraits during a single day
  • Scheduling meetings with parents during a parent/teacher night at school

We wanted to offer the flexibility to accommodate all these types of special cases and limited availability appointments alongside the usual availability for appointments during regular business hours.

If you have a special case for appointments, you can use Advanced Scheduling Options.

Enable Advanced Scheduling Options

Since not everyone will need these advanced options, they’re turned off by default. If you want to use them, you’ll just need to toggle them on. In your WordPress admin, go to Appointments > Settings and toggle on Advanced Scheduling Options.

Screen shot of the Advanced Scheduling Options

Settings screen showing Advanced Scheduling Options

Once Advanced Scheduling Options are enabled, you’ll see new settings options when you edit your appointment types. Here are the newly available settings:


Availability Window

Under the Availability section, you’ll see a start and end date setting for the availability window. That will allow you to specify a single date or a range of dates when appointments should be available:

Screen shot of the Availability Window settings

Appointments will only happen between October 1 and October 31, 2018


Advance

In the Scheduling Options section, you’ll see a new setting called Advance. This setting will limit how far into the future customers can book appointments. For example, this setting will prevent customers from booking appointments more than 90 days in the future:

Screen shot of the advance feature for controlling how far into the future customers can book appointments

Allow customers to book appointments only 90 days into the future.

 


Booking Window

Finally, in the Scheduling Options section, you’ll see a start and end date setting for a Booking Window. This allows you to specify when customers should be able to access your booking form to book appointments:

Screen shot of the booking window fields

Booking window for when customers can access the booking form to book.


Booking Window vs Availability Window

The booking window specifies when customers can access the booking form to book an appointment. The availability window specifies when the actual appointments will take place. Let’s look at an example:

You want to take a series of 20 minute photography sessions during a company holiday party. The holiday party is happening Saturday, December 14 2019 from 4pm to 8pm. Employees of the company should have access to the booking form to start booking their time slots at noon on Wednesday, December 4.

Here’s how you’d set that up:

  • Define a new appointment type and name it Company Photo Sessions
  • Then define the following settings on your appointment type:
    • Duration to 20 minutes
    • Availability to 4pm-8pm on Saturdays
    • Availability window for the appointment type to start on December 14, 2019 at midnight and to end at midnight on December 15, 2019.
    • Booking window for the appointment type to start on December 4, 2019 at noon. That will prevent employees from accessing the form early to book the best photo time slots.

Both the booking window and the availability window can be left open-ended at either end. For example, above we set the booking window start time, but didn’t set an end time. The booking won’t begin until noon on December 4, 2019, but then will continue indefinitely into the future. In this case, there’s also an availability window, so no appointments will be available to be booked after the party is over.

Alternatively, you could leave the booking window start date empty to indicate that appointment booking should be available immediately. Then you could enter a booking window end date to indicate the final day the employees should be able to book their photo sessions.