AppointmentPlus, Pingup redefine online booking services

New technologies center on integration: one accommodates payment processing, the other allows SMBs to add booking options to online Web directories and listings.

Unless your business has invested in a receptionist or executive assistant to handle bookings or schedule requests, chances are you and your team are relying on a basic, separate electronic calendar. 

But unless you've set up some sort of group account, that strategy really accommodates the needs of one person, not an entire organization. So there are plenty of cloud-delivered services specifically focused on scheduling for your business rather than individuals.

Two of them — AppointmentPlus and Pingup — have recently made moves that should be of interest to small-business owners seeking a more efficient way to streamline this process.

The first announcement surrounds a new relationship between AppointmentPlus and Payscape Advisors, which develops a payment processing platform.

Their arrangement will help integrate appointment and point-of-sale (POS) information, so that retailers, salons and other local service companies can accept payments when someone books an appointment online. The integration will be transparent. 

AppointmentPlus, founded in 2001, is used by more than 7,000 companies across 20 countries; it has been used to book more than 150 million appointments. Some of the features it supports include customer self-scheduling, appointment reminders, email marketing, and integrations with Facebook, ConstantContact, Twitter, QuickBooks and many others. Paid plans start at $34 per location per month.

The other notable development is Pingup's release of a mobile application programming interface (API) that will enable online directory services to add booking capabilities to online business listings.

The API will let service providers offer a "book it now" button on their sites, helping connect customer prospects to businesses in the moment — when they are searching for a product and service. It's targeted at businesses as salons, spas, healthcare providers and other local businesses.

"Offering the ability to book services directly from a third-party business listing represents a leap forward in local search and mobile commerce, and provides more value than reviews or checking-in," said Mark Slater, CEO of Pingup, in a statement.

Some of Pingup's scheduling partners include Genbook, Booker, PerfectMind, Clickbook Setster and Agendize. There are currently more than 30,000 properties across 200 business categories making use of the platform.

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