The best appointment scheduling and booking software in 2021

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imageManaging your business’s appointments is more than just keeping your staff’s calendar up to date and allowing clients, customers, and patients to book online.In reality, you have to accommodate emergency bookings, reschedule someone on short notice, rearrange calendars to manage no-shows, and more.Throw a global pandemic, constantly-in-flux regulations, and remote everything into the mix, and booking can quickly take over your day-to-day.Appointment scheduling apps remove the manual, repetitive work associated with managing schedules and let you focus on growing your business.The best appointment scheduling and booking software – for customization – for free booking software – for international businesses – for managing customer relationships – for optimizing your schedule – for managing your entire business What is an appointment scheduling app? Appointment schedulers are business tools that allow clients to book, reschedule, and cancel appointments through a web interface.When clients want to make an appointment, they go to your business’s website, Facebook page, or anywhere else the booking software is supported, and choose an available date and time.On the backend, you enter parameters about when people can book certain services, based on business hours you set as well as the times and dates that your staff or other resources are available.

The app also prevents double booking and over-booking, and gives you the flexibility to block off times when certain services may be unavailable.Say you run a pet grooming business and your poodle cutting specialist takes a two-week vacation.You can enter her days off in the appointment scheduling app ahead of time so that your clients won’t be able to book any poodle grooming time during the days that she’s gone.

What makes a great appointment or booking app? Booking apps [do more](/blog/small-business-scheduling-tips/) than simply give clients a list of available times when they can come in for a meeting, treatment, or service.They also let your clientele cancel and reschedule appointments without having to contact you.

Additionally, they make it easy for business owners and managers to do their jobs, allowing you to streamline communication, centralize payments, and manage your staff.Here’s what you should expect from the very best appointment scheduling apps: Flexibility.Your business is one of a kind.The best appointment scheduling apps know that different kinds of organizations have different needs.

Therefore, they let you deeply customize how your bookings work.A small gym offering one-on-one training sessions should have a different booking experience than a community workshop that rents gardening equipment.Do you want your clients to be able to choose from a menu of services? Should they be able to specify the location for their appointment, such as for services offered at their home? Though there are some great niche options out there (like [Vagaro] for salon, spa, and fitness businesses), the best appointment scheduling apps let you customize these aspects.Calendar syncing.Nearly all appointment scheduling apps let you sync with a calendar.Some even require it.That way, you can see your business’s scheduled appointments alongside other important information, such as when you’ll be closed for holidays or renovations.Plus, the app can cross-reference your availability with the events on your primary calendar.

Payment processing.The best appointment scheduling apps let you collect a payment at the time of booking.That way, you can take a deposit for an appointment or have clients pay for their services upfront.If a client doesn’t show up, your business isn’t at a total loss.Multiple points of access.Once you set up an appointment scheduling service, how will your clients access it? The best apps give you options.Likely you’ll want to embed some code into your website to display the appointment scheduler, but you might also prefer a custom URL with all the booking tools in one place.Maybe you have a Facebook business page but no other website.

In that case, you’ll want to be able to integrate the booking tools on Facebook.Whatever your situation, the more options the better.Standalone functionality.There are hundreds of apps that work as add-ons for WordPress and other platforms.

But the very best booking apps stand on their own, making it easy to support the flexibility and multiple access points you’re looking for.We tested each app from both the business- and client-side—because a great booking app should be simple and easy for your customers to use, too.One final consideration in choosing the best appointment schedulers was to avoid confusing them with [meeting scheduling apps](/blog/best-meeting-scheduler-apps/) .Meeting schedulers share some similarities with appointment software.

The key difference is that meeting apps are specifically for meetings, whereas appointment scheduling apps are for a variety of appointment types that may or may not include a menu of services but almost always require payment at the end.Best appointment scheduling app for customization Acuity Scheduling (Android, iOS, Web) Now a part of Squarespace, Acuity Scheduling is the appointment scheduling app to choose when you need to customize your booking process to a fine degree.When you design your booking page, you can allow your clients to choose recurring appointments, if it’s applicable, complete an intake form, and pay in advance for services.You can also offer coupons and give clients the ability to add on services when they book, such as adding a 15-minute foot massage to a pedicure.

On the backend, the level of detail for customization continues.You can choose to let clients reschedule or cancel their appointments—or not.You can change the interval for start times of appointments, which is by default every 15 minutes.You can put a limit on how far in advance or with how much short notice clients can book an appointment.

And you can even enable an option called “Make me look busy,” which automatically hides some available times so you don’t seem desperate.

When you’re ready to make your booking page live, you can share it via a direct link, embed it into your website using a few different options (including an easy embed option for Squarespace sites), or create a booking button, booking bar, or QR code.Acuity also has mobile apps to access your account from the business side, letting you update your availability from an Android or iOS device, and a client app for mobile booking.In addition to offering so much customization, Acuity Scheduling is easy to use.It goes a long way toward making your business run smoother.You can even integrate Acuity Scheduling with Zapier , which lets you connect Acuity to other business tools you use.Here are some examples of how you can automate your scheduling-related tasks.Supported Payment Systems: PayPal, Square, or Stripe; with additional options to use two services: Stripe and PayPal or Square and PayPal Supported Calendars: Google Calendar, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com; with the option to choose between 2-way and 1-way syncing Acuity Scheduling Pricing: Paid plans from $14/month for 1 staff member and location, payment processing features, and more Best free appointment scheduling app Picktime (Web, iOS, Android) If you’re looking for a booking app that’ll get you client-ready—in a hurry and for $0—you can’t go wrong with https://www.picktime.com/ .

The app’s free plan is the most generous option we found, including unlimited appointments, three team members, two locations, and a number of useful native integrations.Open the sidebar menu and select Calendar to view your full schedule of booked appointments, classes, and resources.Select Online Booking to customize your booking page, scheduling rules, and booking questions.Picktime isn’t the most customizable when it comes to your booking page, but what it lacks in customization options it more than makes up for with setup speed.The default booking page is slick and professional-looking and allows you to get up and running in a matter of minutes.Plus, with pre-built widgets for Facebook, Google Maps, and several website builders, you can let clients book from nearly anywhere.We also love the streamlined Overview dashboard inside the app.

You can find it by opening the sidebar menu and selecting the first option.There, you can see all the important details at a glance, including total appointments, confirmed, projected, and total revenue, and what’s coming up next.

Supported Payment Systems: PayPal, Stripe Supported Calendars: Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange Picktime Pricing: Free for up to 3 team members and unlimited bookings; paid plans start at $9.99/month and include additional team members and locations, payment processing options, integrations, and more.If you’re looking for a super simple and streamlined scheduling app, Appointlet is another great option with a very generous free plan—Picktime just edged it out for us this time with a few of its features.Best appointment scheduling app for international businesses SimplyBook.me (Android, iOS, Web) Because of how many languages and international payment options it supports, https://simplybook.me/en/ is the best appointment booking app for international businesses.SimplyBook.me’s booking pages are available in 32 different languages, from Arabic to Greek to Icelandic to Ukrainian.It also offers integration with more than two dozen payment processing services so that you can offer a system that works for your customers.

The setup process couldn’t be any more lovely, as clear instructions walk you through your options for creating appointment types and add-on services.You can choose a color theme and background for your booking page website, and specify how many service providers and services your business offers.

As an added bonus, SimplyBook.me automatically identifies the features most relevant to you based on the information you added about your business category (for example, if you select “Gym,” SimplyBook.me highlights selling memberships, offering classes, and including multiple locations).And because SimplyBook.me is so conscious of the global business community, it only makes sense that it offers Facebook and Instagram integrations, too, for people who do most of their business through the social network.SimplyBook.me also offers a dashboard and reports so you can monitor your business.You can see how many bookings have been canceled, workload per employee, online reviews of your business, as well as all the text message reminders that have gone out from your account.Plus, you can connect your booking software to all the other apps you use for your business with SimplyBook.me’s Zapier integrations .Do things like automate and customize your booking confirmations, add appointments to all your calendars, and more.

Supported Payment Systems: 2Checkout, Adyen, Alipay, Asiapay, Authorize.net, Blockchain, Borgun, Braintree, CCAvenue, Dwolla, ECPay, GoCoin, Korta.is, Liqpay, Mollie, NewebPay, Pagar.Me, Payfast, Payfort, PayGate, Paymentwall, PayPal, paysafecard, PayTabs, PayU Latin America, Pin Payments, Robokassa, Skrill, Square, Stripe, Swish, TapPay, Worldpay, and Zozo.Supported Calendars: Google Calendar, Outlook SimplyBook.me Pricing: Free for up to 50 bookings per month and 5 providers; https://simplybook.me/en/pricing from $8.25/month, including additional monthly bookings and providers, a client app, and more.

Best appointment scheduling app for managing customer relationships vcita (Web, iOS, Android) vcita is a whole suite of cloud-based tools for businesses, and it includes two that are for booking and managing appointments: Client Portal and Scheduling.It’s very easy to get started with vcita, though slightly more difficult to customize the app deeply to your needs.In addition, it offers billing and invoicing, lead generation, and marketing campaign tools for email and SMS.One of the selling points of using vcita for appointment scheduling is that it helps you develop relationships with customers.

Some of the tools aren’t strictly unique to vcita, as other appointment scheduling apps allow you to keep notes on your customers.But vcita lets you upload attachments, view your history with the client, and even import your client list from another app.vcita also gives you an inbox where you can interact with customers about rescheduling appointments, cancellations, and other details.You can write emails and text messages to go out as a campaign to your client list to promote new services, offer existing special deals, or simply nudge them to schedule their next appointment.

After an appointment takes place, you receive an email from vcita asking if you’d like to take any of the following actions next: set a new appointment with the client, send a thank-you message, or log it as a missed appointment.These prompts help keep you engaged with customers and active in running your business efficiently.You also have the option to create a secure client portal where your regulars can log in to manage their information and appointments.vcita works with QuickBooks, Weebly, Wix, WordPress, Zoom, and other tools, but if there are other business apps you’d like to integrate, you can do that by connecting vcita to Zapier .Here are a couple examples of how you can automate your booking workflows, but Zapier supports thousands of apps, so you can customize your automation.Supported Payment Systems: PayPal, Stripe, Square Supported Calendars: Google Calendar, iCloud, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo vcita Pricing: $19/month when billed annually for scheduling only and 1 team member; full-featured plans from $45/month when billed annually Best appointment scheduling app for optimizing your schedule Genbook (Web, iOS, Android) Appointment booking app Genbook sets itself apart from other apps in its class in one major way: it’s the only service listed here that offers a “Last Minute Bookings” feature, designed to help you optimize your schedule.When you enable this feature, Genbook automatically fills your empty and expiring appointment slots with paying customers by offering last-minute discounts.You have full control over the discount amount and can specify whether the discount is valid “today only” or over the next 24, 48, or 72 hours.

Genbook will then promote and highlight this last-minute availability in the Genbook booking app and your booking webpage.Genbook also offers a handful of small but unique features.block your calendar or indicate that you’re offline or away by hovering over the appropriate day and time on your calendar and clicking your status (block, offline, or away).This is in stark contrast to other apps that typically make you manually create a “blocked” appointment or click into the details of each day.You can also enable a waitlist and create a priority reservation window for waitlist customers, so they can book an appointment before you open up your schedule to everyone.Customers can schedule an appointment via your online booking page, the Genbook app, Facebook, and Instagram.

You can also embed a “Book now” button on your website.Once the appointments start rolling in, the Analytics tab gives you a high-level overview of revenue and appointments by service or staff as well as a more granular view of revenue by daily averages, appointment averages, and more.

Supported Payment Systems: Stripe, Square Supported Calendars: Google Calendar, iCloud, Microsoft Outlook Genbook Pricing: From $25/month when billed annually for the Solo plan (1 user) Best appointment scheduling app for managing your entire business in one place Timely (Web, iOS, Android) With features to build a “mini website,” allowing clients to create an account and log in, plus the option to sell products and create a rewards program, Timely is much more than an appointment booking app.So if you’re looking for a one-stop shop to run your business online, it’s a great option.The mini website option makes it easy to upload all the details your customers may need—simply hover over Setup in the main menu, look under the Promote section, and select Mini website.Then you can edit each page to enable and customize it.The app then transforms it into a simple website, complete with navigation, a booking button, and even a contact form.Clients can schedule appointments there or right from Facebook or Instagram via a booking button.Timely makes it easy to earn more money with the option to let customers buy products and packages, and it offers marketing features like a rewards program, vouchers, discounts, and promo codes.Then the app’s analytics and dashboard help you keep a pulse on the business by tracking appointments, sales, clients, average appointment value, and client retention.

You can view analytics overall or by staff member and even set targets to keep your staff motivated.Plus, Timely integrates with Zapier , so you can connect all your apps and automate even more business tasks.

Supported Payment Systems: PayPal, Windcave, Stripe, Eway, Pin Payments, Authorize.net, Square, TimelyPay Supported Calendars: Google Calendar Timely Pricing: From $15/month for 1 bookable person and basic features Whether you run a client-based business on your own or with the help of many staff members, you can find the right app to help you manage your client appointments.Using a full-featured appointment booking tool can also cut down on the number of no-shows and late cancellations, and it can help you recoup cancellation fees easily by securing a credit card hold at the time of booking.And when you [automate your booking software](/blog/automate-scheduling-booking/) , you can use your energy to focus on the work that matters most.Originally written by Emily Irish and published in 2017, this article has had contributions from Jill Duffy and Kiera Abbamonte..

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