What possessed me to setup a system with Google Forms to Book Time-Slots you may wonder… Well, I was handed a challenge recently: Come up with a way to register people via web form for 30 min time slots for a read through the bible in 90 hrs event.

Like any overly confident person, I said, “sure I can do that.” But I had no idea how to make it work. After an afternoon of researching ideas I settled on one system that is pretty simple, and extremely cheap. I needed a Google account for a calendar (and forms), as well as a $10 extension for google forms. That’s all!!! There is very little maintenance and very little cost with this setup.

Step by Step approach to setting up Google Forms to Book Time-Slots:

Basic Setup for Using Google Forms to Book Time-Slots

  1. Create a .csv file for each calendar day of all the time-slots including the scripture passage according to the formatting guidelines here. (be sure that you create a csv file for no more than 50 time slots – reasons will be explained below).
  2. Open Google calendar and create a calendar by clicking the “+” button next to the words “add a friend’s calendar.”
  3. Select “New Calendar”
  4. Name the Calendar something like “Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc. Then select the proper time zone (very important) and then press “create calendar.”

I’m having you create all the appointments this way so that you don’t have to make a ton of mouse clicks, or screen taps to get the job done. This will save you a lot of time.

Importing the CSV files to use Google Forms to Book Time-Slots

  1. In your Google Calendar, click the “+” button next to the words “add a friend’s calendar.”
  2. Now select “import.”
  3. Click on the grey tab that says “select a file from your computer” and select one of the csv files that you made earlier. Then select where it says “add calendar to” you need to select the appropriate day’s calendar that you created above.
  4. Repeat for steps 1-3 for each of the csv files.

Now you should have all of your time-slots imported into your google calendar.

Setting up the extension to use Google Forms to Book Time-Slots

  1. You need to be signed into the Google Account that you are using for the calendar, and then click this link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/booking-calendar/memgnaickcpmamgfefnceiahodpfocem?hl=en-US
  2. Follow all the instructions there to setup the software.
  3. Now go to forms.google.com and login if necessary.
  4. Click the “+” sign that says create a blank form.
  5. Give the form a name you will remember. I chose “Bible Reading Aug 25th” for this form.
  6. Now give a description that will function as the instructions for the form. I chose to write, “Sign up using the form below for one 30min time slot to read the Bible. Also, military time is displayed here – so if the time says 15:30, that is 3:30pm. If more than one time slot is desired you will need to submit the first one, and then select “submit another response” and fill the form out again for each additional time slot.”
    Remember that miliatary time will be used…
  7. Now click the plus button on the menu bar of the page.
  8. For the first question, I chose to enter “What Time Slot Can You Read?” and then made it a dropdown type of answer. You must choose dropdown on the question that allows them to book a calendar time.
  9. Add another question with the text “First and Last Name” and select short answer for the type of response.
  10. Add another question with the text “Phone Number” and select short answer for the type of response.
  11. Now click on the hamburger icon at the top of the screen next to your avatar. Select settings. Make sure that the button next to “Collect email addresses” is checked.
  12. Now click the hamburger icon next to your avatar again. Now select “Add-ons”. A new screen will open and you should see “Booking Calendar.” Click on those words. Click “Configure Booking Calendar.”
  13. A new screen will open that is where you actually edit the Booking Calendar extension’s settings.
  14. Where it says “select the calendar” you will choose the day calendar that we made previously that corresponds to the day for this form.
  15. Where it says “Sync the events into a drop-down” you will select “What Time Slot Can You Read” (or whatever you named that question). Now click “next”.
  16. Pick how you would like the date/time to be displayed. Click “next.”
  17. Where it says “Set maximum number of loaded events:” choose 50 (or whatever number you have in that day’s calendar). Now I chose to leave the other two options at 1 and 1. *See note below if you anticipate a high volume of sign-ups each day* Click the blue button at the bottom that says “save.”

That form is now finished and you can repeat the steps to create a form for each day that you plan to have people sign up for time-slots. If you anticipate having more than 10 people sign up each day, then you’ll want to click the top right corner in the Booking Calendar configuration page where the currency is displayed. You can follow the instructions there to purchase additional credits for use on your forms. I chose to spend $10 so that I could increase my daily limit to 20 people.
When  you finish creating a form for each day that you have time-slots scheduled, you will be done with this step!

Google Forms to Book Time-Slots on Your Website

To view a demo of what I created you can click here. Basically, you want to create a landing page that includes the links to all of your forms. I chose to use a format so that when I mentioned the date it was hyperlinked to the google form to book time-slots.

Google Forms to Book Time-Slots Real World Application

Once you have all of this setup and running, you can actually use it! We decided to have two people with iPads in our lobby at a table to sign people up. Basically we just use that page I showed you above and tapped the day to get to the form we wanted. Then we had the person fill out the form themselves. We also announced the web-link so that people could just sign up from their own device. Additionally, we made some social media posts that directed people to the sign up forms. Since everything updates in real time, there are no double bookings. If someone claims a time-slot then nobody else can sign up for it. That time-slot just disappears from the form.

Advantages of using Google Forms to Book Time-Slots versus Paper Forms

With a paper system it was easier to set up. However we were constantly having to reconcile multiple lists, and make sure that two people weren’t signed up at the same time. Google Forms has eliminated double bookings. It has also given us an easy way to remind people about their time-slot. The default reminder setting sends everyone an email (to the address they input) on the day before their time-slot reminding them to be there. If they have their calendar integrated with email (as most people do) then their phone should give them a reminder of that appointment a few minutes beforehand also.

Sidenote: When I’m stuck with a website problem, I call my hosting provider – Bluehost. So far I’ve been impressed with their phone support. They have always been kind and helpful even when I’ve made a dumb mistake. Do me a favor and use my affiliate link when you purchase hosting services through Bluehost. I’ll get a small percentage of the sale (at no increased price to you) so that I can keep this blog going, and fund my kid’s future.

You may also enjoy my post about 4 apps our church team uses every day, or this one about setting up a check-in system for children in a local church. I would also love it if you would check out my podcast!

 

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