What’s The Best Online Booking Application For Real Estate Photography?

October 7th, 2015

BookSimpleWanda asks:

Does anyone have a suggestion for a scheduling application that they use for their business. We have been trying booker.com but it just does not fit well for a real estate photographer. I have an assistant that is in the office from 9 -3 but most REALTORS want something that is available to them 24/7. Anybody have any suggestions?

Great question I think a lot of readers would be interested in this subject. There appears to be a huge number of online booking systems out there. A few are:

  1. BookingBug
  2. BookSimple
  3. BookFresh
  4. GetTimely
  5. CheckFront
  6. SimplyBook

From a quick look at these I like the looks of BookSimple (#2) but I’ve not tried any of these myself. Anyone using a booking application you like for real estate photography?

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16 Responses to “What’s The Best Online Booking Application For Real Estate Photography?”

  • I’ve built my own site on the WP CMS platform, I bought a plugin called Bookly http://booking-wp-plugin.com/ I paid $46 for it and integrated it with Paypal and that was it. No monthly fees for SaaS eating away at my profits. I know everyone cannot build a website but for those that do have WP sites, this is a simple option for booking and accepting payments all in one simple plugin.

  • For the last 8 years of being in business not one agent has booked online from our customized booking so this past January we took it down.

    I have a theory that despite the price and choices being the same online as physically calling me…agents call because they perceive each job as being unique to their specific needs. Also I believe that they feel they can negotiate with a human – not just a price but also what might be included, time, day, delays, etc. We try to make each agent feel special but in the end they usually get the same packages and pricing – and walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling that they are more than just I putted data on a website.

    Rather than booking on the website we have developed a form with yes/no and added data that we fill while on the phone and based on the form we sell a specific package along with a few extras. This helps us keep our prices uniform and our per hour rate higher and our profits in our pockets.

  • I use youcanbook.me

    It’s free, pretty easy to use and integrates with your gmail calendar. I’m thinking of take no it down though. I thought it would be popular but people tend to want to email and call to discuss the specifics of the shoot.

  • I also found that most agents want to call or email as they want to discuss specifics of each shoot. Its also best to keep in touch with agents as its a little more personal and adds a feeling of added customer service.

    If you cover a large a area letting agents book themselves is just a bad idea and ultimately a waste of time as the chances they choose a time that fits properly into your schedule is slim, and then you are just having to go back and forth making that first step unnecessary.

    Google calendar does almost everything those apps listed above do and it cross platform and very easy to use. In addition there here are many apps for mobile that sync with google calendar and make scheduling on the go a breeze, for example:

    Calendars: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/calendars-by-readdle-sync/id608834326?mt=8 , very easy to use and integrates google maps right in the app so just click and go to your next shoot.

    Sunrise: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sunrise-calendar-for-google/id599114150?mt=8 , also very easy to use and integrates with google maps, but also has the weather for your area right in the calendar

  • I would rather have complete control over my schedule as some sessions will take longer than others and there may be a distance involved. RE agents don’t think about the ramifications of scheduling a 5000 sf home in between two 2800 sf shoots 20 miles apart – I have them call and ask if they can swap large shoots in to spots where we have a small shoot scheduled, saying “It won’t take you anytime at all!”.

    I only accept appointments through e-mail, confirmed through e-mail. That way I have a record of it and I never take anything out of my inbox until it has been addressed, so I have a constant tickler. I won’t remember a phone conversation that I had as I’m driving down the highway to my next appointment – at least not until it is too late. That and texting – I probably get between 20 – 40 texts a day from various sources. Again, not a good way to schedule a shoot – it’s almost as bad as Facebook Messenger. Guaranteed I will forget about that until I stumble on it next month…

    I just use Google Calendar so I can access it from where ever I am. It connects to Google Maps so I can navigate on my phone if need be. I’m busy – it’s hard enough to put together that weekly jigsaw puzzle without a third party getting in between!

  • I offer online booking and a great number of my clients use this. The feedback I have had with Schedulista has been amazing. Here’s what it looks like on my site: http://danatphotography.com/book

    1. Agents can schedule with their sellers on-the-fly while the ink is drying on the listing agreement. They look like awesome pros at getting the house sold, and I like that.
    2. Agents get text reminders automatically 1-3 hours before the appointment. The agent loves this.
    3. I don’t have to look at my calendar while I am out shooting… I just get a notification that I have a new appointment.
    4. The iPhone app stores my client info so if I need to reach them I just open the appointment and click on whether I want to text or call my client.
    5. I can schedule my days off with the click of a small little clock. I also schedule my personal time commitments into the calendar so that I don’t miss something with the family or a doctor appointment due to being booked. If I book it for myself, my clients won’t be able to book me at the same time.

    Schedulista for one user is $19/mo. If you’d like to give it a try, my referral link is good for a free month… http://www.schedulista.com/?r=V6N-HRE

  • I believe there has to be a solution for a small, one photographer business. A large business can afford staff but a small business owner is in the field. Answering the phone while on a shoot is unprofessional imo. And not answering the phone is unprofessional also imo.

    Is there a solution that will allow me, the photographer, to 1) choose my daily appointment times 2) let me dictate my service area based on zip codes 3) lets the agent choose a photographer 4) allow an appointment to be taken if the address is within a certain distance to the appointments before and after the address of the agents listing and 5) If you have a certain number of different services, the booking software can tell if how many appointment slots are needed in order to complete the job.

    I don’t care if I can take payment or not online since it may cause issues with rescheduling, service type changes upgrades and/or cancellations. Cancellations would incur a charge from the CC company. Just take payment at the appointment.

  • The booking solution should also give the agent the ability to reschedule their own appointments according the 1-5 (in my previous post). You may have to walk agents through the process a few times but imagine the time savings.

    Once the agent has scheduled their tour and submitted, you could have an email sent directly to you and you can call them back. There could be a comment section in the booking solution for the agent to ask for confirmation or anything else they want.

  • Why would you actively try to reduce the amount of interaction between you and your clients?! Have you ever heard anyone say, “Gee, it sure irritates me that when I call Acme Widgets an actual human being answers the phone. So annoying! I wish they would just get an automated answering system instead.”

    No. Neither have I.

  • Scott,

    I think there are two schools of thought on this. Both of them have merit.

    1) If I can afford a full time customer service representative, of course I’m going to do that. Problem solved.

    2) If I am a one person tradesman, hmmm, what do I do if I think it is unprofessional to answer my phone when in front of my customer or not answer my phone when I’m busy or have all customers go to voicemail?

    Have you ever heard a customer say how much they love being on hold or your focus being on someone else instead of them or not being able to talk to you when they want or how much they love voicemail or having to wait for you to call back to reschedule or having to wait until later to know if they can get the time slot they want/need?

    Neither have I.

  • Scott – I added this as a convenience factor for when my clients are with a seller and they are setting up the shoot time. It’s a major convenience when you don’t have to reach all of your vendors in order to schedule. Of course I answer the phone when they want to call… but they don’t always want to call… sometimes they just want convenience. (I also book my hair appointments this way and my housekeeper… all online – majorly convenient for me, and part of the reason I am loyal to my hairdresser and my cleaning service! 🙂

  • I’m in the camp of scheduling manually. I cover a very large area and getting from one end to the next isn’t always practical. I also like to talk with my customers when booking jobs to keep tabs on the local market and discuss the property that want photographed. They’ve seen the home and can give me some information on the decor, relative sizes of rooms and photos they might like to see. If they also are going to need rush turnaround, I may need to block the rest of the day. I tend to spend more time at nicely decorated homes. They make for good portfolio material, my clients get better exposure to help them move up the home price chain and they are more of a pleasure to photograph. A scheduling program might put a straight jacket on me in those instances as far as time I can spend on the job.

    My schedule goes into iCal (Apple calendar sync’d to my (Android) phone) and gets written on my dry erase calendar on the office wall. I only book 2 full sessions per day, so my schedule is not that complicated. I have no reliance on an outside service being “up” and I’m backed up on a physical system (whiteboard) in case my smartphone takes a swim or tries to learn how to fly.

    I try to keep my workflow simple. NASA commissioned a company to come up with a pen that would work in zero G, the Russians used a pencil. If you overcomplicate your business, you won’t be able to spend much time on the most important aspects of being in business.

  • My chiropractor uses Schedulicity, but I don’t know if it would offer what’s needed. I know that I can book and cancel my appointments with him, but beyond that, not sure!

  • Ive used an online booking system since I started my business almost 3yrs ago and my clients love it. They know they can get online and look up times when they are with their clients and anytime of the day or night and book me in without having to leave messages, email me, fill out a contact form on a website etc etc. I still do have clients who also prefer to call me and that’s fine. There’s no reason why you can’t have an online system for some clients and phone/email for others. It’s just like using Internet banking vs walking into a bank, one is there for convenience when you know what you want and the other is there to have a face-to-face to work out a problem or do something more detailed.

  • I use schedulista and like it.

  • Some interesting points above, I agree with Reed that allowing agents to book their own time slot online is a logistical nightmare. The scenario Reed suggests is just the tip of the iceberg. I can imagine shooting a listing and then travelling across town in rush hour, only to go back to a listing close to my first appointment later that day, not the most efficient use of time. Also not all listing agents are as good at choosing the optimum time of day that will best suit the house. We often hear agents say “is faces south so please go at midday” we try to explain that light is often better at an angle to the front elevation as well as better for the rear garden not to mention trees and adjacent buildings that may interrupt the sun.

    We had a bespoke system built that allows agents to place all of the details online, address, vendors contact details, job requirements, notes and access arrangements, we then schedule the appointment through the system and it gives real-time feedback to the agents when we are attending. This gives the best of both worlds, agents can place orders simply online, without always leaving a message, especially if you are like me and don’t like taking calls mid shoot, especially if you are engaged with a client or vendor. it also ensures you get all of the details, the number of e-mails I used to get without the vendors name / number was amazing. It can also be configured to e-mail them at various stages of the appointment including sending a over the final image gallery. If anyone is interested in having a look at this, then get in touch through our website.

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