As of this writing, WP Manage Ninja has launched their next major plugin called FluentBooking. And, like they often do during launch, they are making it available for a limited time with a lifetime deal (or LTD).
But, an LTD doesn’t automatically make it a good deal.
Quite clearly, there were numerous calendar and booking tools available before FluentBooking showed up. There’s a good chance you have already been using one of them.
So, why does FluentBooking stand out to me?
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Existing Calendar Alternatives
Clearly, FluentBooking isn’t the first tool that does this.
Calendly is perhaps one of the best known options out there. It is a third-party tool, remotely hosted… but a solid option. In fact, I recently switched over to Calendly on this very site (before I knew FluentBooking was coming, in a case of really good timing 😉 )
There’s a certain comfort to using a third-party tool. It works with a lot of stuff. It is reliable. It just works. However, Calendly has a few disadvantgages:
- Obviously, there’s a recurring charge. The free plan is quite limited, so you basically need to pay for it to have any professional features. The price is reasonable, but it is recurring.
- It is remotely hosted. Which means it operates completely separately from the rest of my tech stack inside of WordPress.
- Embedding it into WordPress is OK, however it is an IFRAME with specific dimensions you have to set manually. In some cases, that IFRAME can either have a lot of weird empty space in it (because it is too big) or a vertical scrollbar (if it is too small). You’re basically embedding an external website into your blog using an IFRAME. Not ideal.
There are indeed numerous other third-party options, too. Tools such as Acuity, YouCanBook.Me, TidyCal and many others. I won’t bother to address them all.
Then, we have WordPress plugins.
In the past, I reviewed Simply Schedule Appointments. I even used it for awhile. It fit my needs, however one of the things I really didn’t like about it was the interface. I still don’t like the interface. It has a non-native backend interface that overtakes the entire WordPress admin panel and I just dislike the way it works. It also lacked some more fine-tuned control over my availability.
WP Amelia is another option. This one I have not (yet) tested. It is well established and certainly a pretty mature booking tool. It has a far better interface than SSA. There’s a lot to like about it. My problem with WP Amelia is that it isn’t very open. It lacks a lot of hooks that would make it play well with others. For instance, WP Fusion cannot work with it for this reason. While you can do something using web hooks, WP Fusion can’t actually do a real integration with WP Amelia because they just won’t put developer hooks into it. Simply put, Amelia isn’t as open as I’d want and it is harder to integrate it into my tech stack.
Which brings me to FluentBooking…
Why I Am Excited About FluentBooking
As you probably know, I am already a massive fan and user of many of the products of WP Manage Ninja. I know these guys. And I am particularly a fan of Fluent Forms and FluentCRM.
So, I knew immediately that FluentBooking would have an incredibly tight integration with my existing tech stack. And it certainly does. When using this trio of plugins, you can do things such as:
- Immediately see bookings (past and future) for any lead, directly integrated right into their CRM profile. This is insanely useful to me not only to have this data at my fingertips, but so easily accessible as a tab on their CRM profile.
- I can easily trigger marketing automations within FluentCRM based on bookings or cancellations.
- I can tag and segment people based on bookings.
- The booking info is immediately available as merge fields for outgoing emails from FluentCRM without me having to do any nerdy stuff to make it happen.
- I can build forms with Fluent Forms and allow people to schedule with me as part of the form itself… because Fluent Forms has a direct integration with FluentBooking. No longer am I limited to dropping simplistic custom fields into a calendar.
Not to mention, one of the things that initially interested me in Simply Schedule Appointments was the integration with WP Fusion. Well, Jack from WP Fusion built an integration into FluentBooking before it even launched! So, that’s done already. 🙂
So, for me, the entire reason I’m so thrilled that FluentBooking came out comes down to one word: INTEGRATIONS.
Simply put, this is finally a scheduler that will just integrate right into my tech stack without even having to try. It just… works.
Simple as that.
No longer will my appointment booking system feel like some separate piece of software that I have to somehow jam into my workflow.
A Word On First Versions
Obviously, this is the launch of a new plugin. It’s new. It isn’t expected to be perfect nor to contain every feature you’d ever want.
I will say, for a first release I think they nailed it. Sure, there have been a few bugs, but they’re squashing them quickly.
Even at this early stage, I feel as if FluentBooking is at a point where it could replace paid version of Calendly with ease.
Suggestions For Future Releases
I’m not going to bother with a feature-by-feature breakdown. You can see it on their website. I’m sure others will do that. Plus, my video (see above) will walk you through the basics.
But, as I always like to do, I’d like to make you aware of a few of the shortcomings as well as provide suggestions to the team for future releases. So, here we go…
- I would like to see an admin dashboard widget for upcoming appointments so that we don’t have to go to a separate screen.
- I would like to see the ability to have a Gutenberg block or shortcode that will display upcoming and past appointments for the logged-in user. This would be great for membership sites and client portals.
- I would like to see additional calendar integrations besides Google. iCloud and FastMail are important to me.
- I’d like to see the connections to external services (like Google and Zoom) be made much simpler without the nerdy requirements of getting app IDs and all that. Just a one-click OAuth connection would be much more user-friendly.
- I’d like to see buffers between appointments (I know this is coming).
- Ability for a team member to manually schedule an appointment from the backend.
- If a team member books/logs a call from the backend, they should be able to bypass their own availability. Sometimes it happens where we book a call on short notice outside our normal time slots and we should be able to do that.
- Ability to add custom fields to bookings that are for admin use only.
As of this writing, the team just posted a public roadmap where you can see future enhancements coming and make suggestions.
Final Thoughts About FluentBooking
This is a first release. I have no doubt that I will be talking about FluentBooking again as new upgrades are made. I will update things accordingly when that happens.
I’m thrilled to see this addition to the “Fluent” line of plugins.
One of the things I really like about these guys is that they really GET the needs and workflows of real online businesses. Their tools are built in a way that shows that. Not only that, but the team is responsive and accessible and they constantly make their plugins better.
That’s a big deal to me.
I like working with real people who care. And I like using tools built by real people who care. My absolute favorite tools in my business are the “Fluent” line of plugins and WP Fusion. And one of the biggest common denominators between them is how accessible they are.
So, as of this writing, FluentBooking is available as an LTD. Buy it… use it forever.
Is it worth getting? Yup. 🙂
And if you’re using the other “Fluent” tools, this is one of the biggest no-brainers ever. You will not ever see a more seamless integration than this.
Got A Question? Need Some Assistance?
Have a question about this article? Need some help with this topic (or anything else)? Send it in and I’ll get back to you personally. If you’re OK with it, I might even use it as the basis of future content so I can make this site most useful.