In this article, you will learn the basics of Booking & Scheduling’s availability system to help get your session’s time slots up and running as easily as possible. In addition, this guide will also share some advanced tips and tricks to help fine-tune your availability, as well as walk through some common set-ups and questions.
To learn about setting up your session type in general, check out our article here.
On this page:
- Setting up your Available Hours
- Modifying your Availability with Advanced Options
- Common Set-ups
- Frequently Asked Questions
Setting up your Available Hours
In order to successfully set up a session type’s availability, you will need to let the system know what days and times you will be available to shoot. By default, our system will automatically generate time slots for a session type based on a 9 AM - 5 PM (Mondays to Fridays) availability but you can customize this to your exact availability within the Availability section’s List View or Calendar View.
Note: If you are looking to keep your availability open and have your clients request their preferred time and date instead of choosing a specific slot, you may like to skip ahead to our Common Set-ups section.
If you have a specific date where your availability is different from the weekly hours you’ve established, you can easily add this in the Date Specific Hours column:
Once you’ve set up your availability, use the Client View to quickly review how your time slots will appear to clients. Alternatively, you can select the Preview option in the top right hand corner for a more in-depth view of your client’s perspective while booking a session.
Modifying your Availability with Advanced Options
With Booking & Scheduling, your session type’s availability is ready to go as soon as you finish setting up your available hours! Based on your weekly hours and any date-specific hours, our system will automatically create time slots to ensure you are up and running as quickly as possible.
If you’d like to fine-tune your time slots even further though, as well as establish additional availability-based parameters, you can take advantage of the Advanced Options section directly underneath your available hours.
Note: The Advanced Options settings are intended to offer you additional flexibility when setting up your availability. However, if you’ve previewed your session type and its time slots are already appearing as you’d like them to, we recommend leaving your advanced options exactly as-is.
Start Time Increments
The Start Time Increment option determines how your time slots will appear to clients when they book a session. Here are some examples of how a 9 AM - 5 PM availability will appear with the following time increments:
- 30 Minutes: 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, etc.
- 45 Minutes: 9:00, 9:45, 10:30, 11:15, 12:00, etc.
- 5 Minutes: 9:00, 9:05, 9:10, 9:15, 9:20, etc.
Since the Start Time Increments setting affects how time slots appear, we always recommend reviewing your availability’s Client View if you make any changes. This will ensure the updated time slots are appearing as you intended.
The Buffer Time setting allows you to set an amount of additional time to block off before and/or after a client’s confirmed session. This advanced option is handy if you need time to prepare between sessions, and would like to avoid back-to-back sessions.
If set up, it is important to keep in mind that a buffer time will only come into play after a session is confirmed. As an example:
- For your 30 minute photography session, you set a 15 minute buffer time for after the session.
- A client pays and confirms your 3:00 time slot (i.e. 3:00 - 3:30 PM).
- Since the session is confirmed, your buffer time will kick in and block off 15 minutes after your confirmed 3:00 - 3:30 PM session.
- When other clients try to book a session afterwards, they won’t be able to see or select any time slots that fall between 3:00 - 3:45 PM.
Note: If you want to set up a buffer time in between every time slot, regardless of whether the slot has been booked, consider our suggested workflow here instead.
Minimum and Maximum Notice
With the Minimum and Maximum Notice option, you can determine how far in advance a client can book a session.
By default, your session type’s minimum notice is 1 Hour and its maximum notice is 180 days. With the default parameters, the following limitations will come into play:
- Because the minimum notice is set to 1 hour, your client won’t be able to book a session if it is less than 1 hour away.
- With the maximum notice set to 180 days, your client can’t book a session if it is more than 180 days away.
Note: If you choose to make adjustments, it is important to avoid making your minimum and maximum notice too prohibitive, as this could prevent you from securing bookings. For example, if you set your minimum notice to 30 days, that means none of your clients will be able to book a slot within the current month!
With the Availability Request setting, you can determine whether clients can request for a specific session outside of your available time slots.
By default, your session type is set to Allow availability request. With this specific setting, your client can select a session based on the available slots they see, or they can submit an alternative date and time for your approval.
If you’d like to change this default setting, you have two alternative options: Do not allow availability request and Session by request only.
Do not allow availability request: A client can only select a session from the available time slots. The option to request an alternative date and time will be removed. This is a handy option for session types like mini sessions, where you are purposely offering a limited selection.
Session by request only: If this option is selected, you won’t need to worry about setting up your availability . Instead of seeing distinct time slots, your client will be asked to provide their preferred date and time (in addition to the standard client intake information). From there, you will receive their submission as an inquiry and will be required to approve/decline it. This is a great option for session types like weddings, which may vary greatly depending on the client.
Booking & Scheduling’s availability system is intuitive and makes it easy to automatically set up time slots within your available hours. Below, we’ve listed some recommendations for common set-ups to help you get set up even more quickly.
- I want to offer mini sessions for my clients on specific days only.
- I would like to set up back-to-back time slots.
- I want to add a gap between all my time slots.
- I would like my clients to request their preferred time and date, instead of choosing a time slot.
I want to offer mini sessions for my clients on specific days only.
Mini sessions are short, fun photography sessions, usually around 20-30 minutes in length each and stacked back to back on a certain date in the same location.
We’ve prepared a comprehensive article dedicated to setting up your mini sessions, which you can check out here.
I would like to set up back-to-back time slots.
If you want to set up time slots without any downtime in between, this is easy to do in a few steps!
In the General section, ensure that the duration is set up to reflect the exact length of each session.
In the Availability section, scroll down to Start Time Increments and set it to match your session duration (e.g. if your session duration is 20 minutes, set your start time increments to also be 20 minutes).
Since you want back-to-back sessions, ensure that the session type’s Buffer Time is toggled Off.
I want to add a gap between all my time slots.
If you want to introduce a gap between each of your time slots regardless of whether they’ve been booked or not, consider the following set-up. In this example, we will be introducing a 10 minute gap between each of our 20 minute sessions. You will be able to easily modify the steps to fit your requirements.
In the General section, ensure that your session’s duration is set up to reflect the exact length of each session.
In the Availability section, scroll down to Start Time Increments. Then, set the increment to be your session duration and gap time combined.
In this example, each session lasts 20 minutes and we want to add a 10 minute gap in between. As such, we would enter 30 minutes as the start time increment (i.e. 20 + 10 = 30).
- Since we are already incorporating the gap time through the start time increments, ensure that your session type’s Buffer Time is also toggled Off.
I would like my clients to request their preferred time and date, instead of choosing a time slot.
Instead of offering time slots, some session types (e.g. weddings) may be better suited for booking by request only. If this is the case, simply scroll down to the bottom of your session type’s Availability section. Under the Availability Request setting, select Session by request only in the dropdown menu.
When this option is selected, instead of seeing distinct time slots, your client will be asked to provide their preferred date and time (in addition to the standard client intake information). From there, you will receive their submission as an inquiry and will be required to approve/decline it.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can different session types share the same schedule?
- Can I be double booked if clients want the same time and date, but for different session types?
- What time zone will my client see when booking?
- Can I block off time across all session types?
- Can I block off time in a single session type?
- I’ve set up my availability, but why aren’t the time slots appearing as expected on a specific date?
Can different session types share the same schedule?
Yes! Studio Manager’s Shared Availability feature allows you to manage a specific schedule that applies across a particular group of session types.
Creating a shared schedule is easy, and can be done in just a few steps. To create your first shared availability, click the Shared Availability button in the top right of your Session Types page (Studio Manager Dashboard > Bookings > Session Types). Once your shared schedule is created, you can easily assign it to any of your session types.
To learn more, check out our dedicated article here.
Can I be double booked if clients want the same time and date, but for different session types?
When a client books a session for any one of your available session types, our system will automatically block off the required time (i.e. the session duration and any buffer time) across all your session types. This means you will never need to worry about being double-booked in Studio Manager!
If you want to allow multiple sessions to overlap for whatever reason though, you can always manually set up the additional sessions in your calendar.
What time zone will my client see when booking?
By default, your client will see your session’s time slots in the same time zone you’ve set up its availability in.
If your client would like to view your time slots in another time zone, they can do so by clicking on the time zone and selecting another option in the dropdown menu. In doing so, the time slots will automatically convert to their preferred time zone.
Can I block off time across all my session types?
If you need to block off time across all your session types (e.g. for a vacation), our Google Calendar Sync feature is the best way to set this up. When you are checking for conflicts in your Google Calendar with the sync feature, all you need to do is set up the busy event in your connected calendar. Our system will automatically take care of the rest by ensuring clients cannot book any time slots that fall within that busy event.
Note: If you have not connected your Google Calendar to Studio Manager yet, go to your Calendar page and click Calendar Sync to get started.
Alternatively, if you do not use Google Calendar, you can apply the unavailable time to all session types with the Calendar’s built-in Block Off Time option. You can learn more about this feature here.
Can I block off time in a single session type?
If you need to set yourself as unavailable for a single session type, you can easily set this up in the session type’s Date Specific Hour section.
For example, this can come in handy if you typically offer photoshoots for senior students but plan to dedicate an upcoming Wednesday for holiday mini sessions. After setting up your mini sessions as a separate session type, you would want to return to your “Senior” session type and block off that specific Wednesday to ensure no one can book you for a senior photoshoot while you’re busy fulfilling the holiday minis.
I’ve set up my availability, but why aren’t the time slots appearing as expected on a specific date?
If your session type’s availability is not appearing as expected when you preview it, please review the following:
Minimum/Maximum Notice: You can review this setting under the Advanced Settings in your session type’s Availability. If your notice settings are too prohibitive, certain dates may not show up. If this is the case, adjust your minimum and/or maximum notices to accommodate for the specific date you are viewing.
Blocked off time and/or pre-existing sessions: Go to your Calendar page and review the specific calendar date for any pre-existing sessions or blocked off time that would explain why time slots are not appearing for that particular date.
If you’ve blocked off time in your calendar via the Block Off Time and/or Google Calendar Sync feature, time slots will not appear in those specific dates. If this is the case, depending on your requirements, you may like to adjust the blocked off time to accommodate for the specific date.