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Scheduling Calendars: setting up scheduling calendars for Christmas Mini Sessions

This guide walks through how to set up Light Blue’s Online Scheduling Calendars feature to help you to book Christmas mini sessions.

Price List

If you want your clients to pay a fee to book their session, you’ll need to have an item in a price list to do that.

  • Create a new Price List in the “Price List” preferences.
  • Add an item that represents the fee that you’re charging for booking a session.
  • If you’re selling other items after the session, you can add these later.

Learn more about Price Lists, here.

Shoot type

If you don’t already have a shoot type for your mini sessions, creating one is a good idea. The steps that you go through for mini sessions will be different from a regular portrait session, so it’s useful to be able to tell the difference.

  • Open the “Shoot Types” preferences.
  • Create a new shoot type by clicking on the “Add Record” button.
  • Give it a name.
  • Set the duration of the session (e.g. 20 mins).
  • If you also want some buffer time after each session, go to the “Online Scheduling” tab of the shoot type, add some time in the “Buffer After” field (e.g. 10 mins).
  • Set the default price list to the one that you set up earlier.
  • (optional) If you’ve got a shoot date workflow set up, add this to the shoot now, too.

Learn more about workflows, here.

Booking Form

Light Blue’s online Scheduling Calendars include a basic booking form that takes a name and email address. Within the context of Christmas mini sessions, you’ll probably want some more details, so you’ll need to set up a special form.

  • Open the “Form Templates” preferences.
  • Click on the “Add Record” button to create your Christmas Mini Session booking form.
  • Add a “Main Contact” field and ask for a name, email address and phone number.
  • Make those fields required by checking the checkboxes on the right hand side.
  • Add a “Roles” field to gather details about the children attending the session.
  • Ask for a name and date of birth.
  • Enter the different possible roles/relationships in the “Roles” field, each one on a new line.
  • Check the “Require at least one contact” checkbox.
  • Change the field heading to “Children’s information”.
  • (optional) Add a “Shoot Notes” field to record a “Message for Santa”, that’ll appear in the main Notes field of the shoot record.

Learn more about forms and the different fields that you can use, here.

Confirmation Email

When your client books the session, Light Blue can send them an email immediately to thank them for booking. There’s an existing template that you can use, called “Online Scheduling Confirmation Email”, but you may want to make these look more festive.

  • Open the “Email Templates” preferences.
  • Find the “Online Scheduling Confirmation Email” template.
  • Click on the “Duplicate Record” button.
  • Rename the new template.
  • Add any images or additional wording that you’d like.

Learn more about email templates.

Scheduling Calendar

With all the other pieces of the puzzle in place, you can now create a scheduling calendar for your clients to book sessions online.

  • Open the “Scheduling Calendars” preferences.
  • Click on the “Add record” button to create a new scheduling calendar.
  • Choose the right shoot type (the one you created earlier).
  • (optional) Add a description and image.

Set your availability

In the “Timings & Availability” tab you’ll be able to set the dates & times that you’re available to be booked. The scheduling calendar will automatically block your availability for events that have already been added in to Light Blue, so you won’t double book yourself.

The “Weekly availability” is useful for regular sessions that you offer all the time, but you won’t need it for mini sessions.

Instead you need to:

  • Add dates to the “Additional Availability” section.
  • Add each date one at a time, setting a start and end time for each date.
  • Use the “Additional blocking” to add a break in each day.
  • If you’re offering dates more than 90 days in the future, change the value in the “Don’t allow clients to book more than x days in advance” setting.

Bonus tip: If you want to announce a set of dates, and intend to then announce additional dates later, add all of the dates into the “Additional Availability” section, then add “Additional Blocking” to completely block the date(s) that you’re going to announce later. When you’re ready to announce those additional dates, just delete the additional blocking and then those dates will become available to book.

Choosing the right form and booking fee

A special booking form and booking fee were set up earlier, now you need to tell Light Blue that you want to use those for this scheduling calendar.

  • Click on the “Additional Options” tab.
  • In the “Booking form” dropdown, choose the booking form you created earlier.
  • In the “Booking Fee Product” dropdown, choose the booking fee that you added to your price list.
  • Check the “Don’t include Captcha if Booking Fee Is Required” checkbox.

Getting the messages right

To get Light Blue to send the confirmation email as soon as the client’s booked their session:

  • click on the “Workflows & Messages” tab.
  • Within the “Confirmation email” dropdown, choose the email template you created earlier.

Previewing the calendar

To see what the scheduling calendar looks like, click on the “Open In Browser” button.

If you haven’t already set up your client portal branding, this guide will help you to do that.

Sharing it with your clients

You can share the scheduling calendar with your clients by clicking on the “Copy URL” button and then including that link in your announcement or marketing campaign.

Alternatively you can embed the scheduling calendar within a page on your website, and direct your clients there.

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