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[Webinar] Providing the Best Online Booking Experience for your Community | PerfectMind

We all want the convenience of using an online booking feature to register for swim lessons at the community center or reserve the outdoor soccer field for drop-in. Unfortunately, if the process takes too long we give up, regardless of how bad we want to complete that task online.

What is the secret to providing an exceptional online booking experience? Creating the same customer experience for your community online, as you do on-site, is an art. If you fail once it's hard to ask your prospects for a second chance.

Tune into this Webinar with Vahid Shababi, Director of Sales & Marketing at PerfectMind, to learn what it takes to provide the best online booking experience for your community. 

About the Presenter:

Vahid is the Director of Sales & Marketing at PerfectMind. He brings over ten years of marketing and business management experience and understands the impact that technology has on managing complex operations. 


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Video Transcript

Whitney: A couple days after the webinar we will send out the video and transcript for everyone as well. So what do you know about Mr. Vahid Shababi? Vahid has been the PerfectMind Director of Sales and Marketing for the last five years. He spent a lot of his childhood and adolescents at community centers and in gymnasium playing basketball. He played basketball at a varsity and national level. He studied Engineering and Business in school and has consulted hundreds of membership-based businesses in marketing operations and sales processes. He's currently leading PerfectMind Marketing and Sales Department. So as much as I'm sure enjoying my voice, let's get to the beautiful webinar and bring Vahid, the man of the hour, to the mic. Welcome, Vahid.

Vahid: Thanks, Whitney. Before I start, again, I know that we already did the sound check once. If you can please type yes, if you can't see the screen and also if you can hear my voice.

Perfect! Thank you. So in today's webinar, I'd like to talk about online experience. Before we actually getting to the booking part of the experience, there are more things that we need to know. Basically the booking is the result of they're going to go through online. Let me give you an example. When somebody walks into your facility, before they actually go ahead and book a class or registering to a class, they're going to experience your customer service, they're going to experience the cleanness of your facility, they're going to go through a series of experiences before they make the call.

So in today's webinar I'd like to take you few steps back before the booking experience and go all the way to the end. Hopefully at the end of this webinar you will learn one thing or two that will can help by creating a better experience for your members.

I'd like to start with a question as far as what is the brand, what is branding? We all hear 'branding' and 'brand' like on day to day basis. What is the brand, though? Brand is not your logo. Brand is not the color code. Brand is not even a business card. These can reflect the brand but they're not your brand. But what is brand? Like again, we hear brand so many times during the day - what is the brand?

Brand is what your customer experiences and what they say about you. Like you go to a restaurant for the very first time, you love the atmosphere, you love the food, sometimes you don't even remember the name. But next time when you see a friend and want to talk about what you did on a Friday night or Saturday night, all you talk about is the experience that you've gone through with that restaurant, maybe you don't even remember the name.

So the brand is not color code, the brand is what your customers is experiencing and what they say about you. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the name is, what the color code is, what the logo is, because experience is what we remember at the end. Again I use the same example at the restaurant, we always remember the experience that we go through it - that can be the service, that can be a product. When it's service, it's even harder. We've all gone through this experience that we like a singer, when we listen to the music and the radio, we buy the CDs, the DVDs, then download their iTunes, and we're in love with them. As soon as we see them in a concert, we lose that interest. It's just because there's a difference between the service that they are providing, and the product. The product is that CD and the music. The service is the experience that you go through when you see them live.

Now - why, though? Why do you remember experience? Becaue people are emotional. We always remember our emotions before our logics. Even though we want to be logical, our emotions sometimes put more weight in our decision. So it's very important for you to create a good experience that your customers emotionally attracted to your service, to your classes, to your facility.


At the end of the day, it's not what you say, who you are or what you do. It is what they say about you. Doesn't matter if I say I have the best restaurant and provide the best Italian food. If my customer doesn't say that, I can repeat 200 times and at the end of the day I have to close the restaurant.

Now but the question is why online experience and booking experience matters, when we have the beautiful facility, we have amazing staff that they provide the best customer service - why the online experience matters? I would tell you why. There are three main reasons that the online experience is one of the most important experiences that you can have for your member. And I tell you why, because if you don't have an online presence, you have a 50:50 chance for people to walk in and book a class or book your facility. But they go online and they're not impressed, or they're frustrated, or it's too difficult, you're going to lose that 50% chance, they're not going to even try.

So why the online experience matters?

Number 1: People have too many choices, too little time. All of us have gone through this experience, that we wanted to purchase something online and then we gave up at some point. It was either because it was too difficult to browse, it was too many steps, it was confusing. At the end of the day we're not going to spend much time. Depends how much interest you have in the service or the product that you are requiring and purchasing online, you have a little time to do that. That's number one.

Number 2: Most offerings have similar quality and features. If a parent, if a mom, she wants to book her daughter in a dance class, she has too many options online, right? Why she has to book it with you? If she's already online with you, you have to provide the best experience for her so she's convinced you are the right person for your community.

Number 3: We need to to base our buying choices on trust, we all do that. If you want to purchase any product or any service, what we usually do? We ask friends. Why? Because we trust our friends, they already tried the service. 'Hey, I need a new cleaner. Do you work with anybody?' Why? Because you don't want to experience it first han, you trust your friends. You are debating to buy this TV or the other TV, and a friend say 'Oh I have the exact same thing, it's actually pretty cool,' - you're leaning towards that TV. So the trust is important. The trust comes with the first impression and experience. So it's very important the experience that they go through.

Now we talked about the experience, we talked about the brand, and we're just going to go through the online experience. But before we go there, let's see what the big companies do. There are few big companies out there that we all remember their experiences. Maybe we don't realize that on day to day basis but we all remember that.

Starbucks - we all know Starbucks's about Coffee. But Starbucks rarely advertise and talks about coffee. They're talking about connecting people. That's the experience that you are experiencing with Starbucks, that's one of their ads. You want a Starbucks? It's bigger than coffee. The coffee is their primary product. Starbucks Evenings. You barely see any coffee advertisement here. It's they're talking about the experience that you go through with.

Coca Cola - they're rarely talking about their drinks. They're talking about the happiness.

Volvo - they do one of the best brandings. They talk about safety. We all know Volvo is safe, but we barely know name of one car, why? Because they are promoting their experience. So in this picture the front and the back of the car is broken, but where the people are sitting is safe. Same thing with the new generation of their advertisement. Outside is broken, it's fire, inside they're safe. So that's the experience that they go through with.

Now let's talk about you, what is your brand? Your brand is community. Your brand is people. Your brand is happiness. This is the brand that you need to reflect. This is the brand that you need to make your members experience that online, offline, in your classes, in your parking lot. Every place that they think about you or they talk to you, or they experience your services, they have to feel this brand - that is your brand. Because you are the core of your community. You are where you're bringing people together.


Now in order for you to create a good online experience, let's talk about what is the ideal experience that you want to create, what is your brand. When somebody walks into your facility, you never ask for a credit card before you answer a question. So what do we have to log in before // finding the questions or the classes? You never ask them to get to change what they wear before you answer their questions. Why are you asking them to change their device or their phone when they want to book something online? You never ask them to stay in line for more than a few seconds or three minutes hopefully, why are you asking them to go around the website for five minutes to find a simple question that they have for online booking or finding your contact information?

So what are the experience that you are providing your members in your facility, you should create the same experience online. Now in order to do that, let's talk about some facts that will help you for creating your online experience and online booking experience. And it's important for you no matter what direction you go, you look at these facts.

63% of the people search on their mobile phones, and compared to 37% in PC. Now the first question is: is your online presence, your website, your online booking, mobile friendly? If it's not, 63% of the people have difficulty to find what they're looking for. So that's one of the facts.

What is the second fact? This is the number of the people in millions, year over year that they're going online and browsing online from a mobile device and compared to a desktop. As you can see from 2007 - 2015 there's a huge up in using mobile, especially in communities. Parents are in public transit, they're sitting in the office, they have their phones in lunch time. You have to make it easy for them.

Let's look at more details. We say mobile but I guarantee you right now from the people who are in this webinar, every single one of us has one type of phone with one of size of screen. We may have iPhone but iPhone 6 has a different screen size, iPhone 6+ has different, iPhone has different.

So let's look into more details. This chart shows you what percentage of the people looking at online, going online, browsing online with different devices, and what is the success ratio. The bar at the bottom shows the success ratio for them to complete the purchase or the booking. Look at the iPad - has the highest search but the conversion is not high. Look at the iPhone - you know why? Because there are so many different technology out there that is not compatible with Apple products. We don't look at that. We see that people are going online, they browse in our classes, they browse on our website, but hey why don't they book? That's why. There are many different devices out there that they have different limitations as for the software. So you have to make sure it works for them all.

What about the tablet? We all have tablets at home. We're sitting at home at 11 PM, watching TV and we have our tablets on our hand to browse online, we may actually book a class. So this is the percentage of the people who are looking and browsing online.

Now let's have the conclusion. First of all, we just realize that people are browsing from a different sizes of the screen. Therefore mobile and desktop won't work anymore. Maybe worked two years ago but it won't work anymore. You have to make sure your online presence which can be a website, it can be our online booking and everything else, has to be responsive. Responsive will look at the device that is being viewed by and it will show the best experience for the people who browsing online based on the size of their screen. Doesn't matter if they are an iPhone 6 user or an iPhone 4, or they are on a tablet, Mini iPad, or they're on an Android tablet.


At the end of the day again I remind you, that your goal is to provide exact same experience that they will walk through in your facility online. That's number one. Is there anything else that you need to look into before you create your online presence or you have to test that today? Yes. I just showed it to you that from different devices, the success rate is different. There are technologies out there that won't work on specific devices. For example, if they're using iOS for Apple, there are a specific softwares out there that it won't work on them. Same thing with Android and same thing with Windows Phone. So what you have to think is what doesn't work on all those devices, it won't work at all. Because I may change my phone today, maybe I'm browsing from one phone, and my neighbor's browsing from the other phone. That exact same experience that I said you're not asking people to change when they walk in before you answer their question.

Some of the examples: Java, Flash, Silverlight - they won't work on iPhone. So don't make them to download anything extra, we all hate it. When we go on our online experience to purchase something that we are actually looking forward to it, asking us to download something, we just say might be a virus, or maybe there are some security reason that we don't want to go through it. So make sure that whatever you have online, for your software, for your website, you are not using any of the softwares that won't work on all devices. These three are the top ones: Silverlight, Flash and Java, you should be //. That should be your first question for whoever design your website, or whoever is giving you a software for online booking.

Is that all? No. We just talked about the basics. Now let's take them through it. This is now, right now we open the door in your facility, people walk in. Now the experience that they go through it, we have to have that online //. Let's see what are the things that you need to look at.

Let's take one step back. Every single one of you has a brochure. And people love this brochure. We all love it when we're sitting on the other side of the table, I'm booking these classes. But have you thought about why people like your brochure, in the era that people usually don't like printed materials? There is a simple answer to that. There are two reasons. 
Number 1: They're very clean. 
Number 2: They're categorized. If I'm looking for a kid's class, I don't have to go through 200 different classes to find out what it is. I can go to the Kids section, right? Or if I'm looking for this dance class, I don't really have to go through 10 different pages, 20 different pages, oh there we go, no. It's very nice, you guys do a great job by grouping them very nicely in your brochures to make it easy for me that I want to register into a class, to find what exactly I'm looking for.

So you should be able to create the same experience for people online as well. Meaning you should be able to have, don't just make them to go through the online booking for all their classes and all you have to tell them is good luck finding what you're looking for - it won't work. Make it simple for them. Make it easy for them. Exact same way that you do it offline. So I just want to give you a quick example, and it shouldn't be hard. It shouldn't be hard for non-technical people to do it. Like this is just an example.

Let's say you want to have a class, if you want to have your entire classes to be on your website, that you need to be able to walk them, so the preview will be something this, that is very confusing, and all the classes that they have to go through it. But maybe you want to say, you know what all I want to show right now is my Aquatics. So let's disable them all and preview that, and you tell me which one provides the better experience for people. So I'm just going to have my Aquatics class. Arts & Culture I don't want it. And save this one. So now let's preview this one. Now imagine if you have a nice page with all the explanation about the aquatics and then you send them directly for online booking, and you don't require an IT team or you don't need a web team to do that, and they can easily just go Aquatics, 'Perfect, that's what I'm looking for,' and see all of your classes there, that's one thing.


The second thing: don't make them to go through too many steps to find what they're looking for. They should be able to feel throughout whatever they don't want to see or whatever they want to see, and automatically take them through the exact same experience as they would go through it if they go with you in person.

Now, that's how you can create your online brochure with no technical involvement. Now what are other things? I just showed it to you. You have to make it easy for people based on the criteria that they know, they search based on those criteria. They're looking for kids classes. They're looking for adults classes. They're looking for dance classes. They're looking in a specific area. You have to make it easy, and that should be the software behind the scene to make it easy for them to be able to feel throughout what they want, so within seconds they can do it right now. Within three seconds people should find what they're looking for online. The waiting time for the people, like there's a patient time, is within 3 - 8 seconds. We've all gone through that, that within the first eight seconds when we cannot find what we're looking for, we usually give up and we move on. So that's the experience that they're going to [no audio from 21:51 to 22:21].

...feels, they should be able to get what they want. It's okay if it's a step by step but the rule of thumb online that if you are giving them two information, you can ask for two piece of information. If you're asking for three, you can give them three. If they are looking for the basics, which is 'I'm looking forward to see what are the classes that I can register into on Tuesdays' - that's a basic search. Don't make them to //, don't make them to use their credit card. That's one thing.

Second thing - we all have 200 different username and passwords, and we always forget them. I actually make an easy way for myself, don't try to // though. What I usually do myself for like my bank account, I say Vahid bank password, for my email I say Vahid email password so I don't really forget. But don't try it.

One password that we all remember is Facebook. I know some of you is going to say I don't have a Facebook, even you have it private, I cannot // account, so it's okay. They should be able to log in with their Facebook. You have to make it easy for them. That's number one.

Second - it has to be easy to navigate. Easy to search everything to take them through their experience, to find the personas that they're going to go through the experience, for example based on the people that we have in our facility, the persona of the people who's going to go through this page which is kids, are parents and based on our data the people between age of 35 - 45, and mostly women because those are the ones who go find classes for children. Based on that, create the experience online for them. Finding the persona for the people that they have to go through website, that gives you a higher success rate, because you are putting yourself in their position.

I had this conversation with the dentist. He had a website and spent over $20,000 on the website and all he had online was a scary picture of inside the mouth and he was hoping to impress people with that. And I said 'Hey, you are not designing this website for a dentist. That is scares me. I'm just going to close my browser, but also I'm going to make sure I don't even come to your practice, because that's the fear that we all have.' Instead of that if he had a nice smile picture, that makes me feel good, that's different.


So always put yourself in their position. Do not design a website, do not have a booking online for what you think is right. Do it based on them.

Now another thing that is huge and important for you is you have a huge power in marketing. Marketing is expensive nowadays. But because you are the core of your community, because you are the hub of your community, you have huge power. Your power is your community, your power are your people. Make it easy for them to share. Make it easy for them to share their experience, what they've gone through and invite their friends. Again I use Facebook. If party's on Facebook, why do you want to throw a party somewhere else? The party's on Facebook. Everybody's on Facebook. We all have spent some time. When you go through the stats how much people are spending on Facebook, that blows your mind.

Now I'm usually friends with people with similar interest, similar age and in similar area, 70% of my friends. Now if I book a class, if I register into yoga class, and with one click I share that online, all my friends will see that. There is a higher possibility that one of them 'I've been thinking about taking a yoga class, now that Vahid is going to this class, I want to go too.'

Let's do a quick math. 20, I'm not saying 20,000. 20 of your members share their bookings, their membership purchases, their experiences on their Facebook. And I'm not saying 700, each of those 20 has an average 300 friends. You are being showcased to 6,000 people with similar interest, without spending a minute and a penny on your marketing. When you are providing a good experience, when you are making it easy for your community to share, they // a job for you. All you need to do is focus on your brand, which is the experience that you are creating for your members. If you do that, the 2 + 2 = 4, it makes it easy for them to bring other people. It makes it easy for them to take people to your online experience.

Now one last piece - don't rush it. See where you are today and take a step by a step to go online. Online booking is a very hot topic today in this market. But if you don't have online booking today, don't make your members tomorrow to do the entire process online. Because you have only one shot. If you change your software, you have one shot to introduce that to your members. If they go there once, they get lost, they don't like the experience, it's hard for them to add a family member, they won't try it again. So make sure it is based on where you are today. If you're // today, already offering online classes and they can go online to browse - perfect, add the second step: let them register but don't force them. If you don't have any online presence, first let them know 'Hey, you know that you can find all our classes or brochure online?' Figure out about the details, figure out how many people have been booked and the wait list and everything else, and if you wish you can do the booking but you don't have to. Next step - make them through that to go through the process as well. Next step - to do that and that's the only option. Next step - let them to see all the transactions, all the activities online. Don't make it too difficult. Change is hard for people.

Last thing I want to say about the change - change is the hardest thing for people. Now we change our phone from Blackberry to iPhone. We are very excited that we want to go to App Store and download all these cool apps. We click on the App Store icon. We get to the App Store, then we realize we're not used to the keyboard, we can't even type. Get to the keyboard first, then go to App Store. Do exact same thing for your members. Do exact same thing for your members and your customers. Make sure the experience that you are providing for them is the easiest experience. Make sure it's exact same experience like Starbucks, that if you walk into one of their stores or see them online or on TV, you get the same feeling.

So that was basic rules for online presence and online booking. Now I'll be more than happy to answer any of your questions.


And if you have any more questions from now on, maybe after the webinar, please do not hesitate to send me an email or add me on LinkedIn or Facebook, send me a message, I'll be more than happy to answer. I see some of the questions already that they are interested to see our software.

Whitney Donaldson
Whitney Donaldson

Whitney is the Marketing and Events Coordinator for PerfectMind. She brings four years of marketing and communications experience with a focus in the digital media and technology industries. She has a Marketing Management Certificate from BCIT and an English Literature degree from the University of Victoria. She is an avid runner and swimmer, and enjoys spending her free time outdoors. She is motivated by a good cup of coffee, and conversations that convert a great idea into a reality.

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