Vagaro vs. Booker: Salon and Spa Software Showdown 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...

Vagaro vs. Booker – Which salon and spa software should you choose in 2024?

In this comparison, I’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision between Vagaro and Booker

These two software companies are both incredibly popular platforms for salon and spa owners. While Vagaro is directed at cost-conscious solopreneurs or smaller teams, Booker by Mindbody is for growing salons and spas with a team and slightly deeper pockets.

The Basics: Vagaro vs. Booker

Vagaro, headquartered in Dublin, California, was started in 2009 to sway businesses away from pen-and-paper booking with an affordable salon and spa software solution. Vagaro has come a long way since its founding, integrating a whole tool chest of features and a massive client marketplace over the last decade and a half.

Booker, headquartered in New York City, was originally founded in 2007 as SpaBooker, a spa service booking platform, and ultimately became “Booker” in 2012. It has set the standard for form and function of salon and spa software and laid the groundwork for many of the newer competitors we see today. It was purchased by Mindbody in 2018, and many features and business functions have since become standardized across both platforms.

The Vagaro vs. Booker Comparison in a Nutshell

Alright, let’s boil down this Vagaro vs. Booker showdown to just a few words. Honestly, just like our Vagaro vs. Mindbody comparison, I see these two as a battle of “value vs. pedigree.”

If you are a cost-conscious solopreneur or have a small team, you might consider Vagaro an attractive option.

This all-in-one software company has a ton of features to support your salon, spa, or fitness business: from POS, online appointment scheduling, advanced business reporting, email/SMS marketing, and credit card processing to memberships and subscriptions, eCommerce, payroll, a website builder, and even video streaming.

Booker is a mature piece of salon and spa software whose features are primarily oriented toward businesses with simpler operations than those that may choose its sister software, Mindbody.

Booker does not feature any of the more advanced fitness and class scheduling features that Mindbody or Vagaro offer, which makes it an even less favorable contender in comparison due to the fact that it has the exact same pricing as Mindbody.

Booker also has a significant advantage over most salon and spa management software because it is available nearly worldwide through their parent company. Vagaro is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.

It’s difficult to summarize what makes each of these software suites unique in just a few sentences. So, to help you find the best salon software for you, let’s examine these two platforms more closely.

Vagaro vs Booker

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

Vagaro

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.

$120 per month
$450 per month

Who is it for

For cost conscious solopreneurs or smaller teams who are looking for an all-in-one software, with a lot of features, to support their salon, spa, or fitness business.
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

3
4

Customer Service

3
3.5

Countries

U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK

Available almost worldwide

Key features

  • A client marketplace where they can browse and find your business
  • Very comprehensive marketing suite.
  • Vagaro branded POS hardware
  • Support for classes (as also used by fitness businesses)
  • 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: Vagaro vs. Booker

Let’s take a closer look at each competitor in the Vagaro vs. Booker guide.

Vagaro At a Glance

Vagaro, headquartered in the US, is one of the most popular salon software options. It is a complete system for salons, spas, barbershops, health, and fitness businesses.

It’s one of the most feature-rich platforms on the market and comes with POS, online appointment scheduling, email/SMS marketing, credit card processing, subscription payments, video streaming, website builder, eCommerce, payroll, hardware, and advanced business reporting just to name a few.

Despite the large amount of built-in features, it’s one of the cheapest platforms on the market. So if you want to spend as little as possible for as much as possible, Vagaro could be the right platform for you.

Pros and Cons

  • Rich in features
  • Affordable price
  • Client marketplace that could help you attract more new clients
  • Integrations with other software (QuickBook, Xerox, Facebook, Zoom)
  • Pages could load faster, and you may find some glitches as you use it
  • Clients need to create a Vagaro account when booking, which some find annoying
  • There is a slight learning curve in the beginning, as a lot of features

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

While both apps offer a more simple and streamlined experience, Vagaro distinguishes itself with its additional affordability and comprehensive feature set. Its pricing reflects a great value, surpassing other software suites in its sheer number of features per dollar, making Booker look a lot less appealing in comparison.

Both Vagaro and Mindbody provide robust client marketplaces and impressive new client acquisition and revenue growth opportunities. Vagaro boasts that 35 million appointments are booked annually through its marketplace, while Mindbody reports that an impressive 93 million appointments and classes were scheduled via the Mindbody Marketplace in 2022.

Much of my criticism of the Mindbody app holds true for Booker as well. Booker’s interface looks pretty much exactly the same as it did when I was using it in my salon in the mid-2010s. Booker is technically the older piece of software (although not by much), and it really feels like it when comparing the two side-by-side.

Booker’s user experience still feels a bit clunky and looks outdated by modern standards, whereas Vagaro has some of the visual and user experience niceties that newer software suites offer salon and spa owners.

Again, the real kicker here is that Booker offers many, but not all of the features that Vagaro does and comes in at a significantly higher price point, making it a tougher sell unless you live in a territory where Vagaro currently doesn’t offer their services (i.e. outside of the US, UK, Canada, Australia).

Vagaro vs Booker

Let's weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each software.

Vagaro

Booker

Ease of use

3
4

Design

3
3

Customer service

3
3

Pricing

5
3

Calendar and appointment management

5
4

Online booking

5
4

Point of sale and check out

4
4

Client data

5
4

Client communication

4
4

Inventory management

4
4

Team Management

3
4

Payroll

4
4

Marketing support

5
5

3rd party integrations

3
4

Mobile and tablet apps

4
2

Let’s Talk Features: Vagaro vs. Booker

Both Vagaro and Booker offer marketing tools, including an email builder and client marketplace. The Mindbody Marketplace is a much larger platform than Vagaro’s. Vagaro has support for classes and allows you to host video content online – features that Booker does not offer (but its sister software, Mindbody, does).

Vagaro vs Booker

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

Vagaro Booker
Online Booking Vagaro 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

Very limited: Change accent color but all else is Vagaro standard.

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
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

Both Vagaro and Booker offer third-party integrations. Not all salon and spa software do. You’ll notice Vagaro gives you slightly more options to choose from.

Vagaro vs Booker

These platforms both offer third-party integration.

Vagaro 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

  • Gusto
  • Quickbooks
  • Zoom
  • Xero
  • iCal
  • Google Calendar

Pricing: Vagaro vs. Booker

Vagaro offers a huge assortment of features, all included at a low price. Booker’s lowest-tier plans are relatively affordable compared to the competition but are still more expensive than Vagaro and also lack many of Booker’s better features.

If reducing costs is important to you, then you will probably be better suited with Vagaro or another low-cost alternative on our top salon and spa software list for 2024.

Vagaro vs Booker Pricing

Vagaro is more attractively priced than Booker.

Vagaro Booker
Average Price
$120 per month
$450 per month
Trial Options
30 day free trial
No free trial
Minimum contract length
Cancel any time
12 months
Plans
  • Monthly subscription fee starts at $25 for individuals
  • $10 for every additional user
  • Everyone after the 7th user is free
  • Multi-location businesses require Vagaro’s enterprise platform with personalized prizing.
  • 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
  • Monthly subscription fee starts at $25 for individuals
  • $10 for every additional user
  • Everyone after the 7th user is free
  • Multi-location businesses require Vagaro’s enterprise platform with personalized prizing.
  • 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 text marketing: $20/month
  • Website builder: $10/month
  • Forms: $10/month
  • Cloud storage: $10/month
  • Check-in app: $10/month
  • Additional visibility at the Vagaro client marketplace: $10/month
  • Branded app: $200/month
  • SMS marketing: $20/mo for 500 sms and they offer plans up to $400/mo for 20,000 sms.
  • Email marketing: 1000 emails/mo are included in your plan. If you need more, you pay $10/mo for 5 000 emails up to $90/mo for 100 000 emails.

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

Add-ons
  • Automated text marketing: $20/month
  • Website builder: $10/month
  • Forms: $10/month
  • Cloud storage: $10/month
  • Check-in app: $10/month
  • Additional visibility at the Vagaro client marketplace: $10/month
  • Branded app: $200/month
  • SMS marketing: $20/mo for 500 sms and they offer plans up to $400/mo for 20,000 sms.
  • Email marketing: 1000 emails/mo are included in your plan. If you need more, you pay $10/mo for 5 000 emails up to $90/mo for 100 000 emails.

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

Credit card fees
  • Small merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.75% per swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  • Multiple merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.5% + $0.10 per swipe, 3.5% +$0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  • Large merchants (more than $4000/month): 2.2% + $0.19 per swipe, 3% + $0.19 per keyed-in transaction. Monthly cost $10.

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
  • Small merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.75% per swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  • Multiple merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.5% + $0.10 per swipe, 3.5% +$0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  • Large merchants (more than $4000/month): 2.2% + $0.19 per swipe, 3% + $0.19 per keyed-in transaction. Monthly cost $10.

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?

You’ve read my opinion on these two systems. Now, let’s see what salon and spa businesses have to say.

Vagaro vs Booker

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

Vagaro Booker
4.7
4.1
4.4
4.5
3.7
4.4
1.7

What Vagaro & Booker Alternatives Should You Consider?

Vagaro and Booker are two great options for many businesses. However, you may wish to check out the other platforms below.

Mangomint is the highest-rated software for salons and spas. If you have a team and want the absolute best customer service available, check out this option.

GlossGenius is my recommended alternative for independent professionals who have lean operations and want to keep their costs down.

Mangomint vs GlossGenius

A quick comparison of the two Vagaro 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 Vagaro vs. Booker is helpful in your search for the right salon and spa software for your business.

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

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