Our CEO asked me a few weeks ago if we could setup online booking inside our resort’s Facebook page.
My first reaction was NO CHANCE unless we hired a programmer specialized in the Facebook API to develop a specific online booking application for Facebook that that would also in-turn inquire with and pull results from our existing reservation system (Springer Miller Systems). Possible for a savvy coder, but I’m no savvy coder. And for the cost involved to contract or hire it just wasn’t practical, especially for a single hotel like ours. Perhaps for a mega-hotel-chain where a single program could be shared with hundreds of other hotel booking engines (surprisingly they don’t either, I’ve seen talk about it, but odds are they get bogged down in development too). Incoming solution so simple it will make you pour a drink and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Our VP had another idea… Why not a picture of a booking calendar that linked to our reservation system when clicked. Um… damn, yeah, I was concerned about programming interfaces, and the solution was simple. Or was it?
Yes, it was. But taken a few steps further it can actually start to shine …
Take a look:
Taking it further meant creating a sort of mock layout of what appears to be an application within Facebook. Each of those boxes is is link to services, events, and promotions on our current website. All designed to fit the style of our own website to keep the look consistent.
To set one up for yourself ….
No need to walk through every step, I’ll provide about the only clue you will need to know to get started. It’s a free Facebook App called Book Now – FBML that you can install via the Edit Page section of your Facebook page. You will of course need to be an administer of your business page to access this, posses photoshop skill and basic HTML knowledge.
Here’s a screencap:
Get the Facebook application running and it allows you to add a new tab to your Facebook page (Typically where you see WALL | PHOTOS | YOUTUBE etc) … You can optionally make it the landing page people first see. Many companies do this as a means to have a kind of mini-facebook website, but no hotels that I’ve found have utilized it quite like a booking engine or fill it with special offers.
The application then has a simple text box for pasting your HTML code in. Do your layout in simple HTML, storing any images used on your own domain, and paste that HTML into the box. Test, and done.