How to take online bookings & payments for your tennis programme

In this post, I’ll show you how you can quickly and easily start to take online bookings & payments if you are not yet ready to use dedicated software to run your whole programme.

Why take online bookings?

Let’s take tennis camps as an example, but this can apply to your whole programme. I’d like to look at 3 ways of taking bookings:

  1. Manual old school method – not what we want to be doing.
  2. Online, semi-automated method – what this post is about.
  3. Online, fully automated method – something you need dedicated software to do.

Manual old school method

  1. Somebody calls / emails / texts asking for details about the camp and / or to book.
  2. You reply to ask them for their details.
  3. After you get their details, you add all their information into your system, sign them up for their required sessions and email them back with details about the camp. You include the cost and how to pay, probably by bank transfer.
  4. Hopefully, at some point later, they pay. You then log their payment, mark them as paid, add it to your financial system.

Some people won’t pay. They will forget, not get around to it, in rare cases choose not to pay. You’ll be left with some money to collect on the day of the camp, which you don’t want to be doing. Some money will never get paid and you’ll write it off in the end.

Online semi-automated method

This is a good middle ground and probably what you will do if you don’t use dedicated software to manage your programme. Here is how it looks:

  1. All your camp details are on a web page, which is where you direct people who inquire.
  2. There is a link, or even better an online form there on the page. They put in their details & their child’s details, select their dates & times and pay by card.
  3. After booking, they are redirected to a thank-you page with further information. They automatically receive a confirmation email which you have written.

All the above is set up in advance. It doesn’t require any action from you. However, because this is the semi-automated method, there is a little bit for you to do now:

4. Add their information into your system, mark as paid.

This post will show you how you can start doing the above quickly and easily.

Online, fully automated method

This is like the holy grail, it’s where we really want to be, and amazing when you get there. It involves using software to run your whole tennis programme, which I recommend that you do, but only when your programme is of a size to make it financially viable. I have used software called Tennisbiz from Thinksmart for many years and I absolutely love it, but I’m not here to try to sell it to you. It costs around £70 per month and I think it’s only available in UK and Australia.

I could write a lot about everything that this software does for our overall tennis coaching business – not just the tennis camps – but that is a topic for another time. Below is how the tennis camp booking process works with this fully automated method – you’ll notice it is identical to the semi-automated method but with one addition:

  1. All your camp details are on a web page, which is where you direct people who inquire.
  2. There is a link, or even better an online form there on the page. They put in their details & their child’s details, select their dates & times and pay by card.
  3. After booking, they are redirected to a thank-you page with further information. They automatically receive a confirmation email which you have written.
  4. Their details go straight into the database in your software, so you don’t have to add them. They are added straight into their selected sessions / classes / camps, marked as paid and records created in the financial section of the software

With this method, after it is all set up, there really is no action needed from you in the booking process. None, from beginning to end.

The software does much, much more than just this, but for now we are just talking about bookings.

So you're not ready for the full software yet - how to take online bookings

You can do what I have been doing for years, which is to use a service called……..

Jotform is a paid service for creating online forms of all kinds, which can also be linked to payment services like Stripe or Paypal. I made a video about it. Have a look…..

More about Jotform

As I mentioned, this is a paid service. It is international and will cost you $19-$39 per month, depending which package you need.

But it really is a simple way of creating forms which can be embedded directly into your website, Facebook page or even emailed directly as a link. The forms can be linked to payment providers so that people can pay by card on the form. You can see one of these forms live on our club website HERE

We have used these forms for tennis camp bookings, selling tickets for events, selling other items online such as t-shirts, school tennis bookings, feedback and more…….

I won’t go into detail about how to actually create the forms, but it is quick and easy. You could sign up and be taking online bookings tomorrow.

In summary

I do recommend that once your programme gets to a fair size you use dedicated software to run your whole programme. What I’m unable to do is recommend exactly which software to use, unless you are in the UK or Australia. Tennisbiz has worked so well for me that I’ve never tried anything else – so I can’t offer much advice about alternatives.

However, until you are ready to do that, you can use Jotform so that you can at least take bookings in the online, semi-automatic way, which is still a huge improvement in the manual method.

Please ask any questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.

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