Table of Contents
Table of Contents
How much time do you spend every day overseeing your work calendar? It takes time to manage client bookings, schedule meetings with contacts, deal with last-minute customer cancellations and reschedule appointments on request.
Too often, these must-do tasks overwhelm your day and waste valuable time. Ultimately, they limit your ability to bring in new business, meet with additional people and earn more money.
You can take back control of your calendar with a little help from booking software. Today’s online tools for booking appointments automate it all — but the benefits aren’t just for business owners. Clients will love the ease and convenience of being able to make their appointments online whenever they want, too.
What does an appointment booking tool do?
You could stick with an old-fashioned paper schedule book, but online appointment scheduling makes for a more user-friendly customer experience and saves you an incredible amount of time.
Each booking app is different, but they all provide an online portal where your customers, prospects, contacts, patients, students and others can schedule a meeting with you or another member of your staff.
These tools allow you to set and routinely adjust your own parameters for available appointment times, staff and services. In most cases, you can even process online payments through your booking system of choice.
Who uses appointment booking tools?
Successful and efficient companies of all sizes and shapes take advantage of appointment booking tools simply because they save time and money.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs use scheduling software to book important meetings and client appointments.
Recruiters use them to set up and keep track of prospective employee interviews.
Educators and teachers use them to manage student conferences, online classes and office hours with the touch of a button.
Sales and marketing professionals book calls with prospects so they never lose a hot lead.
Customer success managers arrange their check-ins with friendly online apps they can use wherever they go.
What features should you look for in an appointment booking tool?
All service providers offer their own functionality, but the best ones include a combination of the following features:
Business tool integration
To find the tool that’s right for your business, here are some good questions to ask:
Can you publish your booking link in a variety of places, such as your website and social media pages?
Are your customers able to schedule, pay for, reschedule, and cancel their appointments without directly contacting you?
Does the tool allow you to set calendar parameters important to your business, including booking times, duration, service types, staff members, black-out periods and buffer zones?
Does the tool automatically send appointment reminders and other messages via text and email?
Can you customize your booking page and automated messaging to match your brand style and voice?
How many calendar types integrate with the tool?
Will the tool work with your other business applications for a fully integrated business operation?
The 12 best appointment scheduling apps on the market
You likely have specific needs when booking appointments, so it’s important to find the right tool with the right set of features. Here are 12 of the best, according to their strengths.
1. Calendly: Best for ease of use and cost-efficiency
Calendly is one of the easiest online schedulers to use. Simply create your calendar rules and share the link to your scheduling page, and clients can start setting up their appointments. They’ll only see the times you’re available, and only the length and type of meeting you want to have. Because Calendly automates administrative tasks like sending reminder emails and follow-ups, you can focus on the work that builds your business and brings customers back for more.
There’s no more back-and-forth for you or your client. Your schedule fills up efficiently, and everyone avoids excess email exchanges.
For individual professionals, such as recruiters, teachers, salespeople, customer success professionals and entrepreneurs, Calendly is a great way to book your appointments. Later, you can easily expand its use to an entire team, department or small firm.
Calendly works for scheduling one-on-one meetings and identifying collective availability. It also adjusts for users’ different time zones, so all meeting participants arrive on time.
Calendly works with all major calendar tools across devices, and its integrations with Zoom, Salesforce, and hundreds of others via Zapier offer unmatched business efficiency.
Stripe and PayPal integrations enable your clients to submit payment as soon as they schedule a meeting. You get paid on time, every time, without dealing with bills or invoices.
Calendly allows you to maximize your scheduling abilities by:
Incorporating your branding into your scheduling page
Creating buffers between appointments so there’s never an overlap
Defining limits on meetings per day
Setting minimum scheduling notices to reduce unwanted last-minute requests
Sending confirmation and reminder emails and texts
Calendly has five pricing tiers. The prices below apply to accounts with annual billing, which can save you up to 20% per user per month.
Businesses and professionals can choose between three affordable plans:
Basic: Free for 1 calendar/user
Essentials: $8 per user per month with up to 2 calendars/user
Professional: $12 per user per month for up to 6 calendars/user
Teams: $16 per user per month
Enterprise: Custom pricing for larger organizations that need advanced security, control, and support
Calendly’s free trial gives you access to all features for 14 days. Afterward, you can subscribe to any of the paid plans or default to the free plan.
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2. Acuity Scheduling
Acuity offers a reliable automated scheduling tool, and expands its capabilities into business administration like client management, customizable intake forms, and invoicing.
Acuity’s users are interested in replacing multiple existing admin systems with a single cloud-based tool. It’s functionality goes beyond automated scheduling and into accounting and client database management.
Automated meeting scheduling, notifications, and follow ups
Sync with calendar apps including Google, Office 365, Outlook, and iCloud
Unlimited appointments and meetings
PayPal and Stripe integrations
APIs and web forms
iOS and Android apps
Customized branding and templates
appointment packages (including payment plans)
in-app sales of subscriptions, memberships, and gift certificates
If you’re looking for comprehensive software that goes beyond scheduling, Acuity offers an expanded platform. It provides client management, accounting integrations, and invoicing alongside its online scheduling tool.
Acuity’s higher-priced plans offer e-commerce features for service-based businesses, allowing you to receive tips, offer coupons, and even upsell clients with add-ons at checkout.
Acuity’s end-to-end software service packages are helpful if you want to update several business admin systems (or are starting from scratch).
Emerging (1 user): $14 per month
Growing (6 users): $23 per month
Powerhouse (36 users): $45 per month
3. ScheduleOnce: Best for directly booking appointments with prospects
Businesses that rely on large lead pools need a way to directly connect prospects to the right contacts. ScheduleOnce eliminates the typical wait time for a response after someone fills out a “contact us” form.
When using ScheduleOnce, prospects choose the time they want to meet for an introductory phone call or product demo. The app assigns it to the appropriate contacts and notifies them about the appointment.
ScheduleOnce lets individual staff members, teams and whole departments schedule independent or joint meetings.
You choose whether to assign client and prospect booking requests on a round-robin or priority-based distribution. You also determine and incorporate your specific rescheduling and cancellation policies into your scheduling page.
ScheduleOnce integrates with the following calendars:
ScheduleOnce also seamlessly integrates with your website, mobile apps, social media and a variety of other third-party business tools, including:
Video Conferencing: Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and GoToMeeting
CRM: Salesforce and Infusionsoft
Others: Zapier, Gmail and PayPal
Options include the following:
Company-branded scheduling pages and correspondence
Resource pools according to department, skill, territory or other user-determined factors
Lead distribution management and monitoring
These abilities make ScheduleOnce ideal for large organizations that need organizational tools to tailor their scheduling scenarios.
Users can choose from three price plans:
Up to 3 users: $15 per month
4-100 users: $10 per month per user
101+ users: Custom pricing discounted for large teams
4. Bookafy: Best for calendar synchronization options
One of the things that sets Bookafy apart from other booking tools is how it handles calendars between people. You can enable two-way calendar syncing when you want each party to be able to see the other’s schedule. Or, choose one-way syncing when someone needs to view your calendar but you don’t need to see theirs.
Almost every scheduling scenario works with Bookafy. It allows you to set up meetings that are one-on-one, multiple staff with one customer, group events and even one-off and recurring appointments.
You choose how to route customer requests for a meeting. If their situation calls for a staff person with specific skills or knowledge, you assign based on that. If you want the first available rep to contact the person, set up a round-robin distribution.
And it doesn’t matter where meeting attendees reside. Automated time zone detection keeps everyone on schedule.
Bookafy integrates with the following calendars:
For each scheduled meeting, Bookafy generates a unique link for a Zoom or GoToMeeting conference. Also, both Authorize.Net and Stripe payment platforms work with Bookafy to manage credit card payments.
Using APIs and webhooks, Bookafy can integrate other business processes with your scheduling page.
You can apply custom fonts, colors and messaging options to your scheduling page. In addition, you fully control all meeting details by setting the following parameters:
Minimum amount of lead time for meetings
Start day and start time for each appointment
Limits on how far out someone can schedule time with you
Time between appointments
Percentage of your calendar that displays to others
Choose from two plans:
Pro: $7 per month
Pro+: $11 per month
5. SimplyBook.me: Best for international business
If your business spans the globe, SimplyBook.me can schedule appointments in 14 languages to help everyone you do business with easily book time with you. Available languages include:
SimplyBook’s interface displays all of your services, providers and available times. Clients can immediately find what they’re looking for, whether it’s to make an appointment, sign up for a class or enroll in a membership.
With SimplyBook, online bookings aren’t limited to your website. Your customers can just as easily schedule appointments through a link on your Facebook and Instagram pages or on your Google My Business profile.
In addition, clients can add other services to their appointment, pay fees and buy related products, all in one spot.
SimplyBook integrates with Google, iCalendar, Yahoo and Outlook calendars. You can also integrate multiple business functions with SimplyBook to streamline your entire process. It works with:
Clients can pay via multiple global payment options, including Stripe, PayPal, Alipay, Skrill, and Mollie — yet another reason why it’s perfect for businesses working with international clients.
SimplyBook allows you to make your booking site your own with an array of templates. Find one that matches your company brand and further customize it with these scheduling features:
Customer-specific messages, including “book soon” reminders
Deposits for appointments to protect you from no-shows
Tailored client intake forms to be filled out at booking
Coupons and gift cards
SimplyBook offers the following pricing tiers:
Free: Up to 50 bookings
Basic: $9.90 per month for up to 100 bookings
Standard: $29.90 per month for up to 500 bookings
Premium: $59.90 per month for up to 2,000 bookings
6. Appointlet: Best for free appointment scheduling
Appointlet is another scheduling app that lets people book unlimited appointments in a variety of languages. This includes English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian and more. Businesses can book an unlimited number of meetings of various types, all for free.
Appointlet also lets you gather prospect information at the time of booking and take payments.
Publish your scheduling page link on your website, in your emails or on various landing pages. When customers schedule with you, Appointlet automatically updates their calendar and yours.
Appointlet works on any device, so clients can book no matter where they are. If you’re scheduling a long-distance meeting, no worries. The system recognizes and accounts for different time zones
Appointlet integrates with the following calendars:
Does your business use Salesforce or Zoho CRM? Maybe GoToMeeting and Mailchimp are critical business tools for you. Appointlet uses Zapier integration to seamlessly connect with these applications and others.
Users enjoy full control of their calendars with the ability to set available times. Create short breaks or longer vacations on your scheduling page to protect your needed downtime. When clients can see you need to be elsewhere, they won’t try to take those time slots.
Individual business branding is easy with Appointlet. You get:
Personalized scheduling pages
Tailored availability displays: everyone at once or select team members only
Customizable email confirmations and reminders sent automatically
Appointlet’s free plan includes unlimited bookings, meeting types and form fields. For more features and customization options, choose the Premium version at $8 per month per member.
7. YouCanBook.me: Best for messaging options
For businesses that need to regularly send thank-you emails after meetings, YouCanBook.me automatically does it for you. In fact, it streamlines all messaging related to your appointments. This includes initial confirmations, rescheduling or cancellation notifications and time-based reminders.
Once you connect your calendar to YouCanBook.me, you share your available times with clients. They check to see what works best for them. When they schedule an appointment, it goes directly onto your schedule.
If you have different scheduling scenarios, you can create a scheduling page for each one. Pooled availability? That ’s an option, too, making YouCanBook.me useful for large teams.
Sometimes you need to suggest a meeting but aren’t ready to commit yet. That’s not a problem. Just mark the meeting as “tentative.”
YouCanBook.me integrates with both Google and Microsoft calendars. It also integrates with a number of other business functions through Zapier. Specifically, it processes payments through Stripe and automatically sets up Zoom conferencing for every meeting.
From branding to the client experience, customize your scheduling page to suit your needs:
Let clients select from a list of appointment types
Add your logo and colors to your scheduling page
Brand all customer communication
Determine how new events will display on your page
YouCanBook.me offers a flat pricing structure of $10 per calendar per month.
8. Square Appointments: Best for Square payment users
If you’re already using Square to accept payments from your clients, take a look at Square Appointments. It simplifies your scheduling process in the same way that Square simplifies your checkout procedure. It’s easy to set up and offers a lot of features for both you and your clients.
Square Appointments allows your clients to schedule, reschedule or cancel their appointments any time of day or night.
From your side of things, you’re able to completely control availability on your schedule. Display your regular business hours and block out specific times when you’re unable to accept appointments. If you have multiple staff or locations, you can manage them all in one place.
Square Appointments integrates with Google Calendar for scheduling. It also fully integrates with Instagram and Facebook so clients can book, reschedule or cancel directly from your social media pages.
When clients book with you, you can manually or automatically accept them from wherever you are.
Once you set up your scheduling page with Square Appointments, you can brand it by:
Uploading your logo
Displaying a custom button on your website to send traffic to your scheduling site
Using automated SMS and email reminders
Showing all of your available services
Offering electronic gift cards
Requiring full or partial prepayment
Charging a cancellation fee
Square Appointments offers tiered pricing:
Individuals: Free online scheduling site, 2.6% + 10 cents per tap, dip or swipe
2-5 employees: $50 per month, 2.5% + 10 cents per tap, dip or swipe
6-10 employees: $90 per month, 2.5% + 10 cents per tap, dip or swipe
10+ employees: Custom pricing
9. HubSpot Meetings: Best for users of HubSpot’s CRM software
As part of its product suite, HubSpot offers its meetings tool along with its marketing, sales and CRM software. Its most useful feature automatically creates a customer record when a new contact schedules a meeting. This eliminates double bookings and irritated customers.
When you want to give a prospect the option of meeting with more than one person in your firm, you just send a group meeting link. For anyone without a designated sales rep, you can give them a round-robin meeting link to let them schedule a time with the sales rep whose availability best matches their own.
HubSpot Meetings integrates with both Google and Office 365 calendars. As for other business tools, no matter whether you use Gmail, G Suite, Outlook or Windows Office 365, they all integrate as well.
Like many of these tools, HubSpot Meetings lets you embed your scheduling link on your business website.
Further customization is available when the tool is used along with other HubSpot software. For example, the all-in-one sales software lets you create customized email templates to streamline your workload. You choose when to send the emails and how to track their success rates.
HubSpot certainly isn't free, but as part of HubSpot’s CRM software, HubSpot Meetings is totally free.
10. Fresha: Best for salons trying to build a client base
Fresha caters to hair salons, spas and individual stylists. It’s actually a marketplace for the beauty community, offering its members a subscription-free platform for booking appointments, processing payments and promoting their businesses. A Fresha listing exposes more consumers to your beauty brand.
Fresha users enjoy unlimited calendar bookings for an unlimited number of team members and locations. The tool works on both mobile and desktop devices. The built-in marketing promotion, inventory control and reporting tools it offers help you grow and manage your business.
Fresha doesn’t integrate with any third-party calendar tools, but its platform comes with payment processing and a POS system that scans product barcodes and prints customer receipts.
Fresha’s dashboard lets a salon manager view everyone’s schedule in one view, and it facilitates automatic reminders and messages. In addition, users enjoy these options:
Booking confirmation cards
Remote processing of no-show penalty fees
Use of Fresha is free in exchange for listing on the marketplace.
11. Vagaro: Best for beauty, wellness and fitness
For salons, wellness instructors and fitness studios, Vagaro provides 24/7 online booking along with a number of other business functions. This includes a POS platform, marketing tools, inventory control, payment processing and even payroll.
A livestreaming option even gives yogis and personal trainers the ability to teach remote classes.
Vagaro offers more ways to share your scheduling page than a lot of other appointment booking apps. Showcase your scheduling link on your website or social media pages. Publish it on Yelp for even more exposure, or share it on the Vagaro app.
Vagaro doesn’t offer integrations with any third-party calendars, but it provides all the primary business functions needed for beauty, wellness and fitness firms in one platform.
Available features include many actions that help build your brand:
Send targeted messaging through automated customer notifications
Create your own branded app and website
Offer auto-pay memberships
A base Vagaro subscription costs $25 a month for a single employee. Monthly fees go up to $60 a month for 7 or more employees. Additional services like check-in apps, branded apps, and shopping carts incur additional fees on top of the base charge.
12. HoneyBook: Best for those who want all-in-one SMB software
HoneyBook is an all-in-one tool for small businesses – it serves as a project management, internal wiki, CMS, and booking/payment management platform.
HoneyBook’s native scheduling tool includes its own all-in-one tool for invoices, questionnaires, and scheduling. It’s customizable to fit your brand’s aesthetic, and provides a personalized project portal for each client you work with. It also has an integration with Calendly.
Starter Plan: $9/month
Unlimited Monthly Plan: $39/month
Unlimited Annual Plan: $390/year
13. CalendarHero: Best for people who schedule a lot of video meetings
CalendarHero automates remote meeting scheduling, and integrates with all the main video call and webinar providers: Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting.
In addition to the standard scheduling automation features, like custom meeting types, time zone awareness, auto-reminders and multiple calendar integrations, CalendarHero’s “Attendee Insights” feature allows you to prepare with insights and meeting briefings that include attendee details from your ATS or CRM.
CalendarHero recommends their Professional Plan to individual users and their Team plan to anyone who needs to share availability with others.
Team: $12 per user/month
It’s time to try online booking
There’s nothing to lose — and a lot to gain — by incorporating 24/7 online booking into your business. When clients have the ability to directly schedule their appointments at times you’ve designated as available, it takes the work out of bringing business through your doors.
In the time you used to spend making calls, exchanging voicemails and returning emails, you can fit more clients into your daily calendar.
With online scheduling, customers will never again get lost in the calendar shuffle. And you’ll never be surprised or hurt by unwanted last-minute bookings or cancellations.
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