Fresha vs. Booker: Features, Pricing, Reviews Compared (2024)

Editorial note: We're committed to providing correct and up-to-date software reviews that help guide you to the solutions that best fits your needs. The Salon Business is a subsidiary of Mangomint (a salon and spa software we love). However, any opinions shared are solely based on our editors' first-hand experience using the tools we review. Learn more...

Choosing the right software is crucial for efficiently running your salon or spa business. Two of the most popular options on the market are Fresha and Booker.

Fresha made a name by offering free monthly subscriptions, with incremental fees only when the software starts generating revenue.

Booker, created by industry leader Mindbody, is a robust platform focused on marketing services and acquiring new clients.

Both platforms have their strengths and differences that cater to specific business needs and budgets. In this comparison post, we’ll dive into the features, pricing, and pros and cons of Fresha and Booker.

Whether you’re a solopreneur or a growing salon, you’ll learn which software is the better pick for your unique requirements.

Fresha vs Booker

Let's kick off with an overview of the two platforms we're diving into today.

Fresha

Booker

Overall score

Note

The overall score considers ease of use, customer service, features, user ratings, and cost. Scores are determined solely by our editorial team.

4.1
3.4

Average price

Note

Assumes you run a business with a mid-size team and have activated the more common add-ons. What you will pay will be lower or higher than this. See the separate section about pricing for full details.

$80 per month
$450 per month

Who is it for

For the independent professional or business on a budget that want to avoid subscription fees and a big technical learning curve.
For the new and growing business with funds to spare that needs integrated marketing tools and must have a first-party online marketplace to drive new client acquisition.

Ease of use

5
4

Customer Service

2
3.5

Countries

Available in 22 languages in over 120 countries worldwide

Available almost worldwide

Key features

  • FREE subscription with unlimited staff
  • Fresha marketplace where clients can discover your salon
  • Easy to use with a modern minimalistic design interface
  • Available in over 120 countries!
  • Two-way messaging available (only on Ultimate and Ultimate Plus)
  • AI chatbot feature to help with scheduling (only on Ultimate Plus)
  • Integrated payments through MindBody Payments (US & Canada only)
  • Mindbody Explore Marketplace listing included with all subscriptions

A Double-Click on Each System

Let’s cover what these systems are and the pros and cons of each in my Fresha vs. Booker guide.

Fresha At a Glance

Fresha (formerly known as Shedul) is the only subscription-free software for salons and spas with no trial period and no limits on usage. Fresha is headquartered in London, UK, but is available in 120 countries.

The strengths of Fresha lie in the ease of use, the subscription-free plan, and the continuous development of the platform.

It’s important to note that subscription-free is not the same as free. You’re paying for each transaction, and when new clients find you on the Fresha marketplace.

Pros and Cons

  • Free subscription for unlimited staff. Only usage-based pricing.
  • User-friendly and easy to learn
  • Available in many countries and languages
  • Limited options to customize the appearance (default designs look good, though)
  • Clients are required to create a Fresha account to book
  • Online booking cannot be integrated with your website (need to link out to your Fresha page)
  • Limited support for integration with other platforms. You’re locked into using the Fresha tools.

Booker At a Glance

Booker by Mindbody, is a subscription-based salon and spa software that has existed in some form since 2007. Booker is headquartered in San Luis Obispo CA, and is available nearly worldwide.

Booker’s strengths lie in its new client acquisition opportunities and integrated marketing capabilities.

While Booker’s lowest-tier plans are relatively affordable compared to the competition, they lack many of the noteworthy features that make Booker an attractive option, putting them somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to price-to-feature comparisons.

Pros and Cons

  • Straightforward pricing
  • Enhanced new client acquisition opportunities through MindBody Explore marketplace
  • Integrated email marketing suite (on higher-tier plans)
  • No free trial
  • Must commit to a minimum 12-month contract before ever using the software
  • US-based customer support only available to Ultimate and Ultimate Plus plans (outsourced on Starter and Accelerate plans)

How Do They Compare? Strengths and Weaknesses

Both Fresha and Booker are designed to be easy-to-use platforms for non-technical users. However, with simplicity comes a lack of flexibility – you can’t really adapt the look and feel of either system very much.

A key strength of Fresha is its free subscription model, with fees only incurred when the software starts generating revenue. The integrated payments also come with appealing hardware. However, Fresha lacks a booking widget to integrate into existing websites. Instead, you’ll need to link to your Fresha pages.

Booker shines when it comes to robust features focused on marketing services and acquiring new clients, especially with integration into the Mindbody Explore marketplace.

But, many key features are only available in the higher-priced Ultimate and Ultimate Plus plans. The lower Starter and Accelerated plans also come with outsourced customer support, while U.S-based support is reserved for the pricier tiers.

Fresha vs Booker

Let's look at some of the key differences between Fresha and Booker

Fresha

Booker

Ease of use

5
4

Design

3
3

Customer service

2
3

Pricing

3
3

Calendar and appointment management

4
4

Online booking

2
4

Point of sale and check out

3
4

Client data

4
4

Client communication

3
4

Inventory management

5
4

Team Management

2
4

Payroll

2
4

Marketing support

4
5

3rd party integrations

1
4

Mobile and tablet apps

5
2

Let’s Talk Features: Fresha vs. Booker

What I like most about Fresha is its simplicity and flexibility for very small businesses with its free offering and integrated payments, but customization is limited.

Booker focuses more on reaching new customers through its marketing features. You also get access to the Mindbody Explore marketplace for exposure. But key features are only available at a higher price.

Fresha vs Booker

Booker offers more features than Fresha. Let's go through what these features are and where they differ.

Fresha Booker
Online Booking Fresha Booker
Website booking widget

Note

Can you integrate the entire online booking experience directly into your website?

Note

Not included by default. Requires custom web development and API access fees.

Branding control

Note

Can you customize the look and feel of the booking experience to fit your brand?

Note

Not included by default. Requires custom web development and API access fees.

No-show protection

Note

Can you store credit card details and charge deposits to reinforce your cancellation policy?

Service customization

Note

Can clients adapt their service when they book, and can this change the price and duration of the booked appointment?

Free from account creation

Note

Can clients book without having first to create an account with the software?

Integrated gift cards

Note

Can you sell digital gift cards as part of the booking process?

Calendar and Appointment Management
Customize notification messages

Note

Can you change the text sent to your clients as part of appointment reminders and other messages?

Customize notification timings

Note

Can you change when reminders and other messages go out to your clients?

Client waitlist management
Rooms and resource scheduling

Note

Can you manage equipment, rooms, and other resources required to complete a service?

Repeat appointments

Note

Can you schedule clients for recurring appointments?

Time block

Note

Can you block out time on your calendar?

Processing time

Note

Can you allow for double booking of service providers by accepting appointments during service processing time?

Duration and price by staff

Note

Can you adapt the price and time needed for a service based on who is performing the service?

Automated check-in

Note

Can clients check in to their appointments themselves?

Point of Sale/ Check out
Tablet compatible

Note

Can you run the POS on any tablet or do you need special hardware?

Dedicated POS hardware

Note

Does the system provider offer hardware to improve the check out expereince?

Self check out

Note

Can clients check out from their appointment themselves?

Route payments to renters

Note

If you have booth renters in your business, can you route payments directly to them?

Cards on file

Note

Can you store credit card details and charge the customer later?

Integrated payments

Note

Does the software offer a first-party payment processing solution?

Client Data & Communication
SMS Notification
Email Notificition
Dedicated business SMS number

Note

Do you get a business phone number that your messages and notifications are send from?

Note

Available on Ultimate & Ultimate Plus plans only

Two way SMS communication

Note

Available on Ultimate & Ultimate Plus plans only

Forms

Note

Can you create intake forms, store SOAP notes, and have clients sign your forms?

Client notes

Note

Can you store notes about clients on their profile?

Client files and images

Note

Can you store files and image on in the client’s profile?

Inventory and Product Types
Inventory tracking

Note

Will the system keep track of stock levels, notify you when it’s time to re-order?

Purchase orders

Note

Can the system create automatic purchase orders for you?

Retail
Memberships
Packages
Gift cards
Team Support & Payroll
Fully integrated payroll

Note

Can you run payroll and cut paychecks directly through the software?

3rd party payroll integration

Note

Does the software allow you integrate and share data with a 3rd party payroll solution (e.g. Gusto, ADP, Paychex, etc)?

Payroll reports

Note

Fresha offer reports on staff commission, working hours, tips, and service and product sales by staff

Commission support

Note

Can you track and report on commission for service, retail, and other product types?

Multi-location support

Note

Does the system have specific support for businesses with multiple locations

Booth renter support

Note

Can the system help with rent collection, payments, and other booth renter management tasks.

Marketing Support
Email marketing
SMS marketing
Website builder
Client marketplace

Note

Does it offer a platform where potential clients can browse businesses using the software?

Add-on offers

Note

Can you promote service add-ons/upsells as part of the online booking flow?

Cloud & Mobile App Access
Full-featured mobile app

Note

Can you access all software features in the mobile app?

Web browser
iPad
iPhone
Android

Integrating with Other Platforms for Additional Features

One limitation of Fresha and Booker is that they do not offer much integration with other platforms.

Integration support isn’t at the level other salon and spa software provides. For Fresha, you rely solely on the built-in features.

Meanwhile, Booker does allow for custom integrations to be set up.

Fresha vs Booker

These platforms both offer very limited third-party integration.

Fresha Booker
Custom integrations

Note

Does the platform allow you to create new integrations to support your business-specific needs?

Native integrations

Note

Built-in integrations that you can activate as needed

  • Reserve with Google
  • iCal
  • Google Calendar

Pricing: Fresha vs. Booker

Fresha’s big draw is its free subscription. However, payment processing fees apply once you enable revenue-generating features like online booking and integrated payments. So costs scale as Fresha grows revenue for your business.

Booker’s starter plans are relatively affordable compared to competitors. However, they lack many of Booker’s key features that make it an attractive platform. Those features are locked behind the higher-tier Ultimate and Ultimate Plus plans.

If low cost is important to you, then you will be better off with Fresha or another alternative on my list of the top salon software of 2024.

Fresha vs Booker Pricing

Fresha is more attractively priced than Booker.

Fresha Booker
Average Price
$80 per month
$450 per month
Trial Options
Free subscription
No free trial
Minimum contract length
Cancel any time
12 months
Plans
  • No fixed monthly charge
  • Marketplace new client fee: 20% (min $6 per new client). This only applies to new clients who book via the Fresha marketplace.
  • Starter: entry-level plan – $129 per month
  • Accelerate: mid-tier plan – $269 per month
  • Ultimate: most popular plan – $429 per month
  • Ultimate Plus: premium plan – $549 per month
Plans
  • No fixed monthly charge
  • Marketplace new client fee: 20% (min $6 per new client). This only applies to new clients who book via the Fresha marketplace.
  • Starter: entry-level plan – $129 per month
  • Accelerate: mid-tier plan – $269 per month
  • Ultimate: most popular plan – $429 per month
  • Ultimate Plus: premium plan – $549 per month
Add-ons
  • Automated notifications: $0.01 per text (50 included for free)
  • Email blast campaigns: $0.02 per email
  • Text blast campaigns: $0.02 per email
  • Insights (enhanced reporting): $9.95 per team member

Messenger[ai] feature can be added on to Accelerate and Ultimate packages

Add-ons
  • Automated notifications: $0.01 per text (50 included for free)
  • Email blast campaigns: $0.02 per email
  • Text blast campaigns: $0.02 per email
  • Insights (enhanced reporting): $9.95 per team member

Messenger[ai] feature can be added on to Accelerate and Ultimate packages

Credit card fees
  • Card: 2.19% + $0.20 per transaction
  • Tap to Pay: $0.10 per authorization

Credit card processing rates through Mindbody Payments:

  • US:
    • In-person – Card-present (CP): 2.75% per transaction
    • Online or on-file: Card-not-present (CNP): 3.5% + .15 USD per transaction
  • Canada:
    • In-person – Card-present (CP): 2.39% + .10 CAD per transaction
    • Online or on-file: Card-not-present (CNP): 2.89% + .25 CAD per transaction
Credit card fees
  • Card: 2.19% + $0.20 per transaction
  • Tap to Pay: $0.10 per authorization

Credit card processing rates through Mindbody Payments:

  • US:
    • In-person – Card-present (CP): 2.75% per transaction
    • Online or on-file: Card-not-present (CNP): 3.5% + .15 USD per transaction
  • Canada:
    • In-person – Card-present (CP): 2.39% + .10 CAD per transaction
    • Online or on-file: Card-not-present (CNP): 2.89% + .25 CAD per transaction

What Do Users Think of These Platforms?

To read more about our experience testing these software suites, check out our comprehensive reviews of Fresha and Booker.

However, if you’re interested in hearing firsthand accounts from everyday business customers, take a look at the user review scores below.

Fresha vs Booker

Let's compare scores for these systems on the major user review sites.

Fresha Booker
4.8
4.1
4.2
4.1
3.7
4.2
1.7

What Alternatives Should You Consider?

Fresha and Booker can be the right choices for a range of businesses. But if you’re not quite sure, you may also want to consider the platforms below.

Mangomint is the highest-rated software for salons and spas. If you have a team, check out this option.

GlossGenius is my recommended alternative for independent professionals.

Mangomint vs GlossGenius

A quick comparison of the two Fresha and Booker alternatives.

Mangomint

GlossGenius

Overall score

Note

The overall score considers ease of use, customer service, features, user ratings, and cost. Scores are determined solely by our editorial team.

4.9
4.4

Average price

Note

Assumes you run a business with a mid-size team and have activated the more common add-ons. What you will pay will be lower or higher than this. See the separate section about pricing for full details.

$245 per month
$48 per month

Who is it for

The highest-rated software for salons & spas. Designed for businesses with a team who want the best design experience, smart automations, and the flexibility to integrate with other systems.
For independent professionals who want to start accepting payments and get appointment scheduling, a website and marketing up fast without compromising on the experience of their brand

Ease of use

5
5

Customer Service

5
3

Countries

U.S. and Canada

U.S.

Key features

  • Modern, intuitive, and easy to use
  • Smart automations that help cut down on time spent managing business operations
  • Open data ownership and no contracts (you’re not locked into anything)
  • Can integrate with any other platform who allows for integrations
  • Highest-rated customer service on the market
  • Premium beauty-inspired interface design
  • Professional-looking website in just a few clicks
  • Integrated payment and card reader with customizable design
  • Affordable, transparent, flat fee pricing

Conclusion

I hope this comparison between Fresha vs. Booker has answered some of your questions.

For more alternatives, please read my list of the best salon and spa software right now.

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