Need to accept appointment bookings on your WordPress site? If that’s a yes, you should read this Amelia review for a look at a brand new WordPress appointment booking plugin from the same developer as the popular wpDataTables plugin.
Amelia has an amazing front-end and back-end interface built with vue.js and other modern technologies, as well as lots of other smart functionality that makes it definitely worthy of checking out.
If you’re looking for a solution that will look great and give you stellar functionality right out of the box, this might be the booking plugin for you.
Amelia Review: A High-Level Look At What It Does
Ok, so you know that Amelia helps you with appointment booking on WordPress.
How does it go about that?
First, you can set up unlimited:
- Employees, complete with unique working hours for each employee
Then, you have a few different ways to let customers book appointments, and you can also accept payments via built-in PayPal and Stripe payment gateways or a WooCommerce integration.
To manage appointments, you’ll get a detailed back-end interface with tons of helpful views:
And you’ll also be able to set employees up with their own accounts to manage bookings.
That’s a really simple look at what is actually a deep feature list – so keep reading to see a lot of the deeper functionality once I go hands-on.
Hands-on With Amelia: Setting Up The Plugin
Ok, let’s take this Amelia review a little more hands-on now.
I’ve just installed the plugin on a new test site and I’ll take you through exactly how it works, plus what I like and dislike
When you first go to the Amelia area in your WordPress dashboard, you’ll get this neat summary that includes:
- Approved and pending appointments
- Booking revenue
- Today’s appointments
There’s not a lot there on a brand new test site – but it will come in handy once there are some appointments coming in.
Configuring General Plugin Settings
To get started with setting up the plugin, you’ll go to Amelia → Settings:
The settings area is super convenient to use. Rather than needing to go to a separate page to dig into each area, you work in a slide-out that doesn’t require any page reloads. You’ll notice this same easy AJAX approach throughout the entire interface.
For example, you can just pop open the General Settings to control things like default time slots, minimum notice for bookings/cancellations, etc.:
In the Working Hours & Days Off settings, you can set up defaults for employee working hours and breaks (you’ll also be able to customize these for individual employees):
And if you want to accept paid bookings, the Payments area lets you configure the built-in Stripe and PayPal gateways, or turn on the WooCommerce integration:
Once you’ve set up the general settings, you can add your first location.
If you only have one location, you might just need to add a single location. But Amelia also supports multiple locations if that applies to your business.
As with the settings, adding a new location is easy to do and doesn’t require any page reloads:
Once you’ve added your locations, you’ll see a nice summary:
Once you have some locations, you’ll need employees to work at those locations!
To add those employees, you go to Amelia → Employees.
There are a couple of nice things here. You can:
- Assign each employee to a location. Currently, you can only assign employees to one location, though, which might be an issue if you have employees who float between locations.
- Associate an employee with a WordPress user account
- Assign specific services to an employee (more on services in a second!)
- Give each employee their own unique working hours and days off
If you associate an employee with a WordPress account, that employee will be able to manage their own appointments from the back-end, which is a pretty convenient feature.
Another nice touch is that you can easily see an employee’s status from the employee list:
Now that you have locations and employees, you need to add services that people can actually book! You can do this by going to Amelia → Services.
On the left, you can set up categories for your services. And then you get the same convenient slide-out on the right to add services.
For each service, you can define:
- Duration, including buffer time before/after
- Minimum/maximum capacity
- Associated employees
You can also add images and define “extra” services. Extras are basically option add-ons that visitors can book.
And again, you’ll get a nice summary of all your services:
Customizing Email Notifications
Amelia comes with a number of automated email notifications for important actions, like appointment reminders or canceled appointments.
You can configure all of these emails from the Email Notifications tab, including plenty of variables to dynamically insert customer information:
I love the Birthday Greeting email. It’s a small thing, but it’s a nice touch, especially for more one-on-one businesses.
You also get a similar set of emails that can be sent to employees. All of those are customizable as well.
Customizing Your Booking Form
Finally, you can use the Customize tab to configure the colors of your form:
Beyond just colors, there’s also another powerful feature here:
In the Custom Fields tab, you can add your own custom fields for:
- Single line text
- Text area
- Radio buttons
For each custom field, you can associate it with specific services:
Any information collected via these custom fields will appear in the appointment interface, which makes them a convenient way to accept additional information from your visitors.
Inserting Your Booking Form
To insert your booking form, you can use the new Insert Amelia Booking Shortcode button in the WordPress editor.
This button lets you insert three different “views”:
- Booking – a straightforward booking form. Visitors first choose their location and employee. Then they pick a date. Then they can make an appointment.
- Search – this lets a user search for available services by a number of criteria, including day, time range, location, and employee.
- Catalog – displays a browsable catalog of all your services, divided into categories. One nice touch with this one is that you can create separate catalogs for individual employees or one overall catalog for all employees.
Visitors can book an appointment from each type of form – the form you choose mainly just affects how “browsable” your services are.
Here’s the basic Booking form:
Here’s what the Search looks like:
And here’s the Catalog view:
If you don’t really need visitors to be able to browse all your services, you can just go with a straightforward booking form.
But if you do want people to be able to poke around your offerings before they book, the search and catalog options are helpful.
Let’s Book Some Appointments!
Ok, so I covered the setup process. Now, let me show you how the actual booking process works on the front-end and back-end.
I’ll use the regular booking form for the front-end part – just remember that the actual interface will change a bit if you use the catalog or search options.
After a user chooses their location, employee, and date, they’ll see a list of time slots to choose from:
Then, they’ll enter their information and, if applicable, pay for their appointment (you can also use on-site payment).
If you added any custom fields, they’ll show up here too:
You can also offer coupon codes, which is another nice touch (alternatively, you can turn coupons off in the general settings if you don’t want to use them).
Then, once a user enters their details and hits confirm, they’ll see a confirmation as well as an option to add the appointment directly to their own calendar. That’s a really user-friendly addition – very cool!
Currently, users can add their appointment to:
- Google Calendar
- Yahoo! Calendar
- iCal Calendar
- Outlook Calendar
They’ll also get a confirmation email (remember – you can fully customize this email).
And again – like the entire plugin, it’s important to point out that this is all AJAX. That is, there are no page reloads at any point in the booking process. This creates a really frictionless booking experience for your visitors, which is great for usability.
Managing Appointments On The Back-End
Once you get some appointments, they’ll immediately show up in your back-end interface.
There are a few ways that you can interact with your appointments and customers.
First, the Appointments tab gives you a list of all your appointments, as well as an option to manage their status (approved, pending, canceled, rejected). Remember – you can also give your employees their own WordPress accounts to manage appointments:
If needed, you can also manually create appointments through this interface, which is helpful if you get phone bookings or another offline method.
If you click on an individual appointment, you’ll be able to edit it and add private internal notes. You can also see information submitted via custom fields in the Custom Fields tab:
As an alternative to the appointments list, you also get a nice calendar view, including an option to filter by:
Amelia also includes a lightweight CRM-type interface in the Customers tab where you can manage all of your existing customers.
As with appointments, you can also add internal notes here, which is a good way to keep track of important customer details:
Finally, the Finance tab gives you a simple look at all of your payments, including options to filter by:
And you can also create coupon codes from this interface. When you create a coupon code, you can:
- Choose percentage or flat-rate discount (or both)
- Set a usage limit
- Choose which services the coupon applies to
Remember The Dashboard
Finally, once you get some appointments coming in, that dashboard that I showed you at the beginning gets a whole lot more helpful. It can even help you see KPIs, like average bookings and which employees, services, or locations perform the best:
Amelia Price And Final Thoughts
Ok, I think I’ve shown you everything at this point!
So how much will all of this functionality cost you? Well, currently Amelia is priced at $59 at CodeCanyon, which is pretty affordable for what you get, in my opinion.
Now for the other important question – should you use Amelia?
Well, let me start with the positives:
The Amelia interface is just a joy to use on both the front-end and the back-end. The usability is on point, and I love how few page reloads there are. Honestly, it’s one of the better interfaces I’ve experienced with any WordPress plugin, not just booking plugins.
In fact, it’s so great that I’d love to see Amelia expand it with front-end appointment management for customers.
It also comes with a lot of smart features that you might not get with other plugins. A few examples are:
- That “Add to Calendar” button (you can also let employees sync their Google calendar with their appointments, which is another helpful feature)
- Easy custom fields
- Smart coupons
And generally, I think the depth of functionality means that it should be able to do most things out of the box.
The only thing that I can’t find information on is how developer-friendly Amelia is. I wasn’t able to find any mention of any hooks or filters that developers can use to modify the plugin, so that might be an issue if you are a developer who wants to dig into the guts.
Additionally, right now you can only assign an employee to one location, which might be a little limiting if you have employees who move between different locations.
Finally, there’s also not currently any functionality for deposits, though that is on the product roadmap.