You can raise Charges against bookings and notify customers of their charges. Customers can even pay your booking charges online, providing you and your customer with a simple, secure and efficient means of managing their booking charge payments. Payment of booking charges by other methods can also be managed, with comprehensive reporting to help keep track of unpaid charges that are due and overdue for payment.
In this article
Overview of intended functionality
Charges are raised against an individual booking and against the sequence for multi-date sequence bookings. This gives you lots of flexibility with the frequency of when charges are raised for a sequence, perhaps raising charges weekly or monthly, or even for the entire sequence, if you wish. You can raise multiple charges against each booking or sequence, perhaps for deposits, instalments and extras and optionally set a due date for a charge, so that you and your customer know when payment is due. Partial payments are not currently supported.
When viewing a booking, you'll see the table of Charges for the booking/sequence. The column headings are click-sortable. From here you can Add charge, to add new charges, or Add credit (if Paid), Duplicate, Edit, Delete (if Unpaid) or View changes for an existing charge.
For your customers, each booking has its own customer-facing Booking Page that can be sent to the customer, perhaps as a booking confirmation.
In addition to all the booking's details, the Booking Page also includes the list of charges and, if enabled, the option to pay.
While the Charges functionality is not intended to be a replacement for your organisation's accounting and invoicing systems, an optional invoice number field is provided for cross-referencing each booking charge in ChurchSuite to your invoices and/or accounting system.
The Bookings module's Reports section includes a number of customer and charge-related reports to help you further manage customers, their bookings and charges. The Stripe Transfers report, for example, shows a summarised and detailed breakdown of online card payments received in respect of booking charges.
Configuring the Bookings module for raising booking charges
There is very little configuration required to begin raising booking charges and processing customer payments. You'll get the most from the functionality by first reviewing the following configuration steps.
1. Review the module settings
Access the Module Options tab to Edit and Enable Charges.
On the Booking Page tab, optionally Edit and add a custom Message that is displayed at the bottom of customer-facing Booking Pages. For example, you might link to your terms of service or cancellation policy; or perhaps state your standard payment terms or your organisation's address and booking contact details.
2. Stripe card payment integration
If you wish to offer your customers an online payment option for paying booking charges, you will first need to complete the Stripe integration (Administrator > Integrations). You may already have a Stripe integration completed for event ticket sales and online donations, in which case no further action is required. See our related support article on Integrating Stripe for Card Payments for further information.
3. Check your booking 'Type' settings
Working within the Types section of the module, and from a booking type's "View" page, you can optionally further customise each of your booking types to best suit your use of the booking charges functionality. Click Edit.
On the Edit type pop-up, you can assign a custom Brand - ideal for churches wishing to distinguish their commercial bookings from their other church ministries. See the related support on Custom Brands for further information. You can also select whether Online Payment is enabled by default for this booking type. When adding bookings, online payment for booking charges will be enabled or disabled by default; however, a User can always override the default on a booking-by-booking basis. Save any changes made.
Back on the booking type's "View" page, optionally add payment Instructions - ideal for letting customers know how they can pay your booking charges. The instructions surface at the bottom of a list of charges on the customer-facing Booking Page. The Confirmation email is sent when a customer makes an online payment of charges for this type's bookings. In addition to the preset content sent by ChurchSuite, you can add your own custom message to the email if you wish. Note that you can also change the default From Name, From Email and Subject of the Confirmation.
By default the payment Confirmation email includes details of the booking's details and charges, and the payment made. Any custom Confirmation message is added after the booking details, just above the payment details - perhaps a brief 'thank you' message.
Let's now look at the process of adding charges to a booking.
Working from the booking's "View" page (for any date in a booking sequence), click into the Charges tab (only shown if Booking Charges are enabled in the module's settings - see previous section for further information). Click Add charge.
On the Add charge pop-up, specify the charge Name, optionally add a Description and Invoice No, enter the Amount due and, if you wish, the charge Due date, which will help with managing/reporting due and overdue charges. A negative amount charge (Credit) can be added, but note this option is reserved for recording amounts that have been refunded to the customer - perhaps by cheque or bank transfer (see section on Refunds later in this article). Negative amounts are therefore not a way of giving a discount - discounts should be factored into the original charge to which a discount is being given (perhaps showing the charge and discount in the charge Description), with the Amount being the net of discount amount.
Your customers will see their Charges listed on their customer-facing Booking Page, however you can optionally set charges Hidden, perhaps hiding a charge until it has first been approved by the customer; at which point you can Edit the charge and set it Visible.
Charges are typically added initially with an Unpaid Status. However, when adding or editing a charge, you can mark the payment status to Paid and record details of payments received. While online charge payments automatically update the charge's payment Status to Paid, you can record charge payments by other methods, noting the payment Method and Date of payment. Note that it is not possible to record partial payments - instead, create separate charges for the partially-paid and unpaid elements. Click to Save the charge.
Continue adding charges as appropriate. You have lots of flexibility and granularity for raising charges. For example, you might add charges for deposits, monthly instalments, charges per booking based on resource usage or charges for life events, such as a marriage or funeral services. Importantly, the Charges tab lists all the charges for the booking/sequence, with the payment Status of each charge shown. The column headings are click-sortable. Note also the Actions menu to Duplicate, Edit or Delete a charge.
As mentioned previously, customers will see a list of their charges on their customer-facing booking page, sent using the Send booking action. You can optionally preview that page using the Go to booking page option shown below.
In this section we will see the two methods of processing charge refunds that return a previously-paid Amount to a customer:
- a refund back to the card previously used to pay a charge online
- a credit charge, which represents a refund payment - perhaps by cheque or bank transfer - that has been returned back to the customer
Note: The refund processes are not suitable for use in handling customer discounts, which should instead be factored into the original charge Amount to which a discount is being applied (perhaps showing the charge and discount in the charge Description), with the charge Amount being the net of discount amount.
Refund of online payments previously paid through the Booking Page
When a customer makes an online payment for a booking charge through their customer-facing Booking Page using your Stripe card payment integration, you can easily process a full or partial refund for that payment; saving the additional administration of issuing a manual refund payment, while still maintaining an up-to-date payment and refund history for the original charge.
From the Charges tab of a booking, select Refund from the Actions menu - this action is only available for charges previously paid online through the customer-facing Booking Page.
On the Refund payment pop-up, select whether a Full or Partial refund is to be processed. Confirm the refund and click Refund Payment to complete the process. The payment is refunded back to the card originally used to pay (even if that card has subsequently expired or been cancelled) - it's not possible to refund to a different card.
Once processed, the charge Status and Amount is updated accordingly. The charge is now locked to prevent further changes to the Amount but the charge Name, Description and Invoice Number can still be optionally edited, if necessary.
The charge's Changes log provides a helpful history - click View changes from the Actions menu on the Charges tab.
Refunding charges paid by other payment methods
You can also record refunds for charges previously paid by other methods by adding a charge credit. For example, a charge has been previously recorded as Paid by bank transfer - you can add a record of any full or partial refund of that payment that has been paid back to the customer. In this next example, the charge of £75 has been previously Paid (by bank transfer in this example). From the Actions menu, select Add credit.
On the Add credit pop-up, enter the details of the payment being refunded back to the customer - enter a negative value Amount, select the Method by which the refund is being returned to the customer and the refund Date. Click OK to add the charge credit.
The Credit charge is added to the Charges list and the charge summary totals update accordingly, providing a clear audit trail of charges Paid by the customer and Credits refunded back to the customer. The customer-facing Booking Page will also show this same information.
Deleting booking charges
Finally, in this section, note that it is only possible to delete Unpaid charges and Credits. To delete, select Delete from the Actions menu. The action is not shown for Paid charges.
Sending the customer booking page
For each booking and booking sequence, you can send the customer a customer-facing Booking Page, which enables them to view all their booking details (for each date in a sequence), including their booking charges. If online payments are enabled, your customers will be able to pay their charges online, updating the payment status on their booking page accordingly. We've produced a separate support article about The Customer-Facing Booking Page, which explains the customer user experience in more detail. For the purpose of this article on booking charges, we'll focus on how to send the page to the customer.
You can optionally preview the customer's Booking Page at any time using the Go to booking page option, shown below.
When you are ready, you can send the Booking Page using the Send booking action on the Communicate button menu. Note that the email actions are only enabled if the booking has a customer and the customer has an email address.
The Send booking pop-up enables you to optionally customise and remove elements of the booking details from the email body content, which you'll be able to preview before sending. Note that these options only affect what shows in the email itself - as long as Include booking page link is ticked, the customer will see all their booking details on their Booking Page, accessed using the link you send. Select as appropriate and click Proceed to view the draft booking email.
The draft email can optionally be further personalised, perhaps by adding a personal greeting or additional message. The email Template is pre-selected based on the Brand specified for the booking's Type. You can optionally attach files, such as a PDF of your Terms and Conditions - and the email can be optionally scheduled, rather than sent immediately. Once you are happy with the draft, click to Preview Email.
The customer or booking contact is auto-added as the Recipient but this can be changed, perhaps adding or removing recipients as required. All recipients are always blind-copied. When you are happy, click Send Email and the booking email is sent/scheduled.
A record of the sent booking is added the booking's Communication log. Note that the sent booking is logged against the booking date from which the email was actioned from, even though the booking may relate to a sequence of dates; however, an identical log is added in the Communication log for the customer and all sent communications from the module are listed in the module's Communication report.
Finally, the View history pop-up on the Charges tab provides a detailed history of all charge-related changes pertaining to the booking or booking sequence, including a log of each time a Send booking email is sent - clicking +More to view the sent booking email.