Despite the growing frustration many feel about Facebook’s handling of users’ private information and fake news, it is still the world’s biggest social media platform. According to Hootsuite, more than 68 percent of Americans use Facebook. It’s no surprise then that the social media giant would want to branch out and capitalize on all those users with Appointment Booking, a new feature that allows business owners to accept and manage appointments, collect customer information, and send reminders, all from their phones. It enables consumers to book appointments with local providers on Facebook and Instagram. Spa-goers can now access the booking feature through Facebook Messenger, by clicking a “Book Now” button on the spa’s Facebook page, or by clicking a “Book” button on the spa’s Instagram profile page.
Wave Wellness Retreat (Tillsonburg, Canada), founded by husband and wife team John and Kristy Van Barneveld in 2018, offers a range of wellness options. The spa has grown its clientele through its Facebook page, which means the Appointments Booking tool has been particularly beneficial. In fact, the Van Barnevelds estimate that 80 percent of their total bookings come from Facebook. Of these, 80 percent are made with the Appointments Booking tool. The rest come through Messenger. All other bookings (approximately 20 percent) are made by phone.
“The tool has streamlined our booking process,” says Kristy Van Barneveld. “Our customers choose the appointment time they want while we can easily collect and manage requests for appointments and communicate with our customers all from one place. It reduces the back-and-forth of texting and phone calls to find a mutually convenient time. This has given us back four hours a week—we use that time to create more Facebook posts that drive more bookings.”
What does this mean for spas that already rely on a sophisticated booking system? We asked some experts in the field:
What impact will Facebook’s new booking app have on the industry?
“Facebook has allowed links to online booking and basic booking for a while, so this will just be the next step in that process. I look at social media booking as supplemental to a good front desk and online booking system.”—John Harms, founder and CEO, Millennium Systems International
“Facebook’s new booking app is geared toward small businesses and their respective Facebook following. For the client, the app simulates a true booking process and makes it easy for them to book their appointments through Facebook. However, it’s not a true integration for businesses. The app uses Facebook Messenger to relay the customer’s booking preferences to the business. Spa staff will still have to manually enter the customer’s appointment into their individual booking system. For spas with a larger client base, adding a stream of appointments that needs to be input manually could disrupt their booking process, but for smaller spas and one-person operations, the app has a much better use case from start to finish. Using Facebook’s new booking app could generate more bookings and provide a positive experience for both the customer and provider. —Roger Sholanki, founder and CEO, Book4Time
What are the disadvantages, if any, of relying on a social media network to fulfill your booking needs?
“Social media can serve as a great tool to book additional business, but it shouldn’t be the only tool a business relies on for booking. Because Facebook users sometimes establish accounts under nicknames, replace their last name with their middle name, or otherwise alter their online identities, one of the few disadvantages would be the possibility of polluting your client database with social media monikers.”
—Roger Sholanki, founder and CEO, Book4Time
“It’s great for last-minute openings and reminding people you’re out there and giving the client an opportunity to see who you are and book an appointment. So, it’s more supplemental than a primary driver of business when it comes to booking. Rebooking existing guests before they leave and reminder texts and emails with booking links are still the most important ways to fill your book.”—John Harms, founder and CEO, Millennium Systems International
“Reliance on this sector, if coupled with other consumer avenues, is a positive consideration. However, relying solely on social media will limit awareness and other possible revenue streams.”—Audrey MacRae, vice president, Maestro PMS