Golf is as old as the hills so it’s pretty neat when it takes a bold and modern swing with some excellent tech. EM Golf UK makes it easy for people to book exclusive indoor golfing experiences and lessons with golfing pro, Ed Morton.
We asked Reuben Mansell of One Hundred Web Design a couple of questions about his experience building the comprehensive booking system the EM Golf UK site required. Read on to learn how they used WooCommerce Bookings to find great success.
Give us the nutshell on how you came to build this website — casual brief over a beer? Shirts, ties and a formal pitch?
I had built a website for Ed’s brother’s interior design company, so it was more of a recommendation, there was a meeting beforehand though.
Initially, Ed had another booking system in mind, but it wasn’t responsive. Once he watched the video for the WooCommerce booking system he was quite convinced it would be what he needed. (So nice video guys!)
How did you like using the WooCommerce Bookings extension? Any pain points?
I found it to be pretty comprehensive. Sometimes Ed would ask me if he could add certain functionality, and I generally found it was possible.
I like how the developers have thought of most things — for instance, if you close at a certain time, the booking system won’t let the user choose a start time that will take the end time beyond closing time. Simple things like that make a difference.
Also the Google Calendar integration is a life saver for people who sell their time, as it’s easy for them to know where they need to be, without needing to log in to the website every time.
We did find booking holiday time in a bit of a pain point as it wouldn’t update the Google Calendar unless you created a dummy booking in the back end.
What other extensions or customizations did you use?
We used quite a few: PDF Invoices (to enable Ed to keep account of sales), Product Add-Ons (enabled us to let the customer choose add-ons for their golf lesson/simulator session) and Smart Coupons (to enable the user to buy loyalty credit, which is effectively store credit).
Were there any challenges you feel were unique to your customers and product?
There were a few different product types. Some were tied to resources like the simulator, or Ed himself as a resource. But it wasn’t anything the booking system (or at least an extension) couldn’t handle, which is what impressed me the most.
Does your client now manage the content and bookings themselves? Do they find this easy or a challenge?
Ed manages the bookings. I just had to show him around once and make a brief manual for him, but he got right to it and hasn’t had many problems at all.
How are you currently using email and social marketing to support the site?
We use Twitter and Facebook. Ed regularly plays in pro golf competitions so his posts are interesting and fun. Golf is a whole other world in itself so there’s always plenty to talk about.
Over time, an email list will help to keep EM Golf Studio in customer’s minds, so I’m guessing we’ll be paying that mail chimpanzee a visit soon.
There are lots of possibilities. If it’s more about Ed than the studio, it’ll do well on social media.
What’s your dev background, and history with WordPress?
My background was more in marketing. I worked for a social media agency for quite a few years as a Facebook advertising specialist. Initially I was planning to sell advertising as that’s where my expertise was, but I really wanted a change.
I built a couple of websites for friends using WordPress and found the multi-disciplinary role a web designer needs to play pretty fascinating. I set up my company as a result.
The whole responsive web design thing was new when I started so I took that as a unique selling point and coupled that with my SEO and marketing knowledge. Learning development pretty much from scratch isn’t easy but I used Codecademy and Treehouse, which have been beyond awesome. I also joined a development team on a voluntary basis, which meant I got to learn a lot of skills from some experienced people.
I’m still learning all the time though. I try to read as much as I can and take online courses when I can find the time. There’s a lot to be said for using online resources to educate yourself, it makes life quite satisfying when you learn new skills.
What got you started with WooCommerce, and why did you choose it for this site?
I wanted to get into eCommerce sites, and I had looked at other solutions, but at the time they didn’t seem to support responsive design well. I read something about Woo and there was also a guide to setting it up on Treehouse which helped me a lot. I’ve built about six sites using WooCommerce now and I love it.
As for WooCommerce Bookings, EM Golf needed a comprehensive booking system for their new indoor golf simulator. I had watched the video about Bookings when it first came out and kept it in mind. Ed Morton (the EM in EM Golf!) has pretty high standards, but I felt confident that this would be up to the challenge as Woo generally build high quality plugins.
And now for the truth, do you play golf and have you ever got a hole-in-one?
Last time I played, I got a little over excited and got the golf buggy stuck in the bunker, does that count as a hole-in-one? Photographic evidence here — 5th pic down on the left of the grid.
Thanks to Reuben for sharing his experiences with us. Check out WooCommerce Bookings and let us know how you’re using it — we might just feature you in our next case study.