There’s no denying it. We live in an ever-more digital world, and it’s becoming even more so in light of Coronavirus.
During the lockdown, perhaps you took an online yoga class with your instructor or had a consultation with a health practitioner? Now that lockdown is easing up in many countries, small and large businesses are having to rethink how they do business.
The use of digital marketing tools is helping them to adapt, for example, many barbershops, which might have previously relied on customers simply coming in off the street, are now making appointments mandatory for their customers.
A key part of this evolution is and continues to be, scheduling apps. So if you don’t have an online appointment booking system in place, then now is the time to get set up with one.
If you’ve made it here then you’ve already put the wheels in motion. So, let me take you through the pros and cons of using each of the top scheduling apps on the market and when to use them.
I assure you that by the end of this post you’ll have the perfect solution for your business, thus making it more resilient and successful in the digital age.
Though each industry is not equal in terms of the rate of digital transformation, generally speaking, any small to medium-sized business will need to have (minimum) a website and a listing on Google Maps (Google My Business).
It’s also likely that your competition has at least those two things as well. So, in order to stay ahead of your competitors, you’ll need to find new ways to reach potential clients whilst also streamlining your customer’s journey.
A scheduling app will help you to:
All sounds pretty good, right? Now all you need is the perfect appointment scheduling software to get started.
But I imagine you’ll need a little more information in order to make your decision. I’ve dissected each of the booking tools in detail below. Jump to the reviews by clicking here.
The great thing about appointment scheduling software is that it takes care of tedious tasks like canceling and rescheduling appointments for clients. Not only will it mean more appointments scheduled, it’ll also mean more time for you and your staff to focus on more hands-on tasks.
But, of course, you’ll need to make sure the scheduling app you choose has all the necessary features.
Here are some things to look out for:
Customization: The app should be flexible in that it allows you to customize the booking experience depending on your needs. For example, a personal trainer’s scheduling app won’t look the same as that of a freelance photographer or a sales agent.
Aside from selecting the time and place, your customers might need to specify the reason for their appointment or answer a quick survey in the case of first-time customers. A good scheduling app should allow you to do all of this and more.
Payment Processing: Having the ability to take payments online ahead of time is crucial for many businesses – especially since many customers are trying to avoid cash in times of Coronavirus. It can also mean you don’t lose out on revenue from last-minute cancellations.
Calendar Syncing: This is key. No one wants to have to put in information twice. You should be able to sync the software up your Google, iCloud or Outlook calendar so that public holidays, days off, store closures and appointment clashes are visible on both ends.
Compatibility: You’ll also want to make sure that your clients can schedule appointments from a variety of points. For example, on your Facebook page, website or via a link. The app should therefore come with a multitude of options.
Device: Depending on how you work, you might be more comfortable or find it more convenient to use a particular device. Whether you prefer using a mobile app, desktop computer or iPad, make sure that the appointment scheduling software you choose supports the devices you need.
1- SetMore – Free plan without limitations
2- SimplyBook.me – Modern design options
3- Calendly – Unlimited appointments
4- MeetFox – Generous free plan and in-built video software
5- Cogsworth – Affordable paid plan
6- Square Appointments – No limit to what you can do
7- Squarespace Scheduling – Language features
8- Appointlet – Create more than 1 booking page
9- 10to8 – All major calendars but not that intuitive
10- SavvyCal – Simple but effective
|Available on||Calendar Syncing||Payment Processing||Access Points||Price|
Stripe (paid plan)
Premium from $25/mo
|Over 40 including PayPal Square Stripe||Facebook Instagram
Paid plans from$9.90/mo
|Stripe (paid plan)
PayPal (paid plan)
Paid plans from$10/mo
|Stripe (5% transaction fee on free plan)
|Website (WordPress plugin available)
Paid plans from$15/mo
||Paid plans from $9/mo|
Paid plans from $50/ mo
|Paid plans from $15/mo|
|Stripe (paid plan)||Facebook
Paid plans from $10/mo
Paid plans from $12/mo
|Processing with Stripe coming soon
||Paid plans from $12/user/mo|
The great thing about SetMore’s scheduling software is that you don’t need to have any technical experience whatsoever, you can get set up in no time. However, that’s not to mean it’s not powerful, just the opposite.
Pros to using SetMore
This software is really easy to use. Its set-up wizard makes sure you don’t miss a step and its clean interface makes it easy to navigate.
A unique feature of this tool is the desktop app, which lets you see your appointments even if you're offline. None of the other providers offer this feature.
Thanks to its many integrations with website builders, CRMs and newsletter tools (Mailchimp and Constant Contact) it’s easy to display your booking service, manage your contacts and incorporate them into your email marketing strategy.
SMS reminders aren’t included in the free plan, but hopefully email notifications are enough for you.
Though you have a range of customization options in terms of booking details, the booking landing page (hosted on SetMore) doesn’t have any design customization options.
When to use SetMore
If you’re looking for a free but generous provider then SetMore is an excellent choice. You’ll find you can do practically everything you need in this booking app, plus the fact that you can access it on your desktop offline might be appealing for some.
Free for 1-4 staff logins and calendars, automated emails, unlimited bookings and you can accept payments with Square.
Paid plans start at $25/month for up to 20 user accounts, SMS reminders for your clients and 2-way calendar syncing (to combine your personal calendar with the app’s calendar).
Founded in 2008, SimplyBook.me has been around for some time. Its extensive list of features, like membership options and a website builder, secured it a place on this list of the best scheduling apps.
Pros to using SimplyBook.me
Its plans are generous and very affordable. Even the Free plan comes with a range of really nice-looking, fully responsive booking website templates. It’s super simple to set up, all the work is virtually done for you!
SimplyBook.me’s membership feature allows you to offer both discounts and treats to your members, as well as lower recurring payments if they become members (recurring membership payments work with Stripe everywhere except within the EU).
Use the SMTP email custom feature to integrate with transactional services such as Mailjet or Sendgrid.
I had some issues with the dashboard freezing when I tried to navigate between different options.
Unfortunately, this app is only available in English. If you need multi-languages, you should take a look at Appointlet, which supports a number of languages, including Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian.
When to use SimplyBook.me
If you need a simple booking website you can customize then SimplyBook.me is a good choice. It’s also very affordable.
Free for 50 appointments per month, automated reminders and 1 custom feature (e.g. payment processing). Paid plans from $9.90/month for 100 appointments, 3 custom features and POS system.
Calendly, which is based in Atlanta, is a popular scheduling app, especially among startup companies. It allows for unlimited appointments and has a well-designed interface that’s really easy-to-use.
Pros to using Calendly
You can use it with Google, Outlook, Office 365 or iCloud and allow your customers to schedule directly from your website. Automated event notifications are included even on the free plan, making no-shows less likely.
The automated workflows are really helpful as you’ll no doubt save a ton of time having these set up! You can also create your own workflow if it doesn’t appear in the templates provided.
SMS notifications and direct integrations with email marketing and payment processing tools are only available on the most expensive Pro plan ($15). This means that you won’t be able to take payments through the free app – if you’re looking for a service that does allow this, check out SetMore. I'd also recommend checking out these Calendly alternatives if you have multiple users and want to avoid paying extra.
When to use Calendly
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced solution with unlimited appointments.
Basic: Free for 1 user. 1 calendar. Calendly branding
Premium: $10/month per user/month. 2 calendars/user
MeetFox claims to have over 20,000 happy customers, so let’s see what makes this a great scheduling app and whether it’s right for you.
Pros to using MeetFox
MeetFox’s free plan comes with unlimited meetings and payment processing, which is more than most. You’ll only need to start paying if you want to send SMS reminders (as opposed to email), conduct video calls using its in-built software or add your own logo.
You can embed a nice-looking custom booking page into any part of your website, or you can go for a pop-up widget or button. Those who use WordPress will be pleased to hear that MeetFox offers a WordPress plugin to facilitate this.
Ease of use is a big plus with this tool; the interface is really well-designed, and you are guided through the steps in an intuitive way – there’s no chance of you feeling overwhelmed or confused. Also, the fact that the app generates invoices automatically (if you wish to do so) could be very helpful for freelancers.
Be aware that the free plan will charge you a 5% transaction fee on payments processed through the app (paid plans won’t charge you anything extra).
Unfortunately, MeetFox doesn’t have a mobile app or desktop version.
When to use MeetFox
MeetFox is a great scheduling app for all business sizes. With such a generous free plan and excellent user experience, I’d recommend this tool to anyone looking for a simple solution for booking appointments.
Free with unlimited meetings, email reminders and payment processing.
$15/user/month for a Pro account with SMS reminders, integrated video calling and customization options.
$42/user/month for a Premium account with domain customization, group calling & recording and multi-party bookings.
Cogsworth is another scheduling app to consider for your business. Users seem to be very happy with this service due to the look and feel and the time it saves them. Though there’s no free plan, $9/month is pretty reasonable, so let’s take a look at all it has to offer!
Pros to using Cogsworth
Setting up your account and services is made simple with the set-up wizard. I have to say that the booking experience it gives users is really nice; it’s clean, quick and feels very natural.
A cool feature is that you can build an email signature with your booking button to add to all your correspondence, making it even easier for people to book time with you. Cogsworth also supports 25 languages.
There is no free plan, and the price of the most affordable plan quickly rises if you need to purchase SMS credits, additional user accounts or want to take online payments.
If you want to test out the software, you’ll need to pay $2 – we very rarely see providers charging for a trial account.
When to use Cogsworth
Cogsworth is a good option for those who want to show their booking page in other languages. If you don’t need any of the paid add-ons, it is a pretty affordable solution for small businesses.
Plans start from $9/month and allow for unlimited bookings. You can also offer as many services as you like. You’ll need to pay extra if you want to send SMS notifications, add more users, use a custom URL or take online payments, all of which will push your monthly subscription up quite a bit.
If you have an online store then you’ll no doubt have heard of Square, which allows you to accept payments securely on your site, as well as in your brick and mortar store. Square Appointments uses this same technology to facilitate paid bookings (and free ones too, of course).
Pros to using Square
With Square Appointments, you can set up an entire customer booking website for free. It’s really easy to do so due to an easy-to-navigate interface and step-by-step checklist.
The software really helps you to automate the whole process; you can activate automated text and email reminders, set the times you’re available, charge cancellation fees for no-shows, and accept payments all on the same platform.
Its widget can be added to your site and social media profiles, making it super simple for customers to schedule an appointment with you.
Funds are sometimes frozen while they investigate potential fraud. This could leave you in a sticky situation if you’re relying on that money for immediate use. It’s also not the cheapest option.
When to use Square
Because Square has so many solutions – employee payment processing, apps for restaurants and retail, the ability to send and receive invoice payments – it’s a very attractive option for small to medium-sized businesses who want to thrive in the twenty-first century.
In terms of industry, it isn’t limited to just one. So whatever your business, you’ll find that Square can accommodate your needs.
Free for individuals. $50 per month for 2-5 users or $90 / month for 6-10 users.
Find out about Square’s fees for all services here.
Squarespace Scheduling supports over 50,000 businesses and major corporations worldwide. A unique feature is the “Make me look busy” option, which automatically hides some available times so you appear in high demand.
Pros to using Squarespace Scheduling
The paid plans allow you to sync with all the main calendars: Outlook.com, Exchange, Office 365, iCloud and Google Calendar.
Squarespace Scheduling can translate your scheduling page to French, German, Brazilian Portuguese or Spanish. Or you can translate it yourself using its handy tool. It’s also very easy to set up intake forms for new clients.
Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn't offer a free plan. If you’re looking to start for free, you’d be better off with SetMore.
When to use Squarespace Scheduling
Squarespace Scheduling is a very decent scheduling app with a multitude of features. If you have customers in different countries then you find its translation feature useful. The only time I wouldn’t recommend it is if you’re in need of a free plan.
Squarespace Scheduling Pricing
Plans from $15/month with calendar syncing and email marketing integrations.
Using Appointlet is a simple affair due to its clean interface. It has enough customization options to satisfy even the most complicated of workplaces, for example, it comes in several languages and comes with unlimited form fields.
Pros to using Appointlet
Its forever free plan includes unlimited bookings, meeting types, and form fields, making it one of the most generous free appointment scheduling software. If you need booking reminders and want to remove the Appointlet branding, the paid plan is very affordable at $10/month per user.
Appointlet lets you create more than one booking page, where you can customize all the details such as location, price, etc. This is really useful if you have a number of very different services. In terms of integrations, you can connect Appointlet to Zapier, which supports pretty much any newsletter service or CRM.
Appointlet sadly doesn’t currently have a mobile app available, which some users will miss.
You are required to sync with either Google Calendar or Office 365 calendar, so if you’re not currently using either of these calendars and don’t want to switch over then this isn’t the tool for you.
You’re also not able to take payments online on the free plan.
When to use Appointlet
If you have a lot of appointments coming in but can do without automated reminders and online payment processing then the Free plan is really worth checking out!
Free with unlimited bookings. $10/month per user for automated and customizable booking reminders, Zoom and Stripe integrations.
10to8 is a UK company that has been around since 2014. It serves businesses of all kinds, including private surgeons, financial consultants, complementary health therapists, beauty therapists, tutors and music teachers.
Pros to using 10to8
10to8 makes it possible to two-way sync with Google, iCal, Office 365 and OutlookExchange – a wider variety than most of the other solutions on this list.
Color coding for different appointment types makes it easy to get an idea of your schedule at a glance.
The Free plan boasts a native Zoom integration. If you want to integrate with your email service provider you can do so via Zapier.
The Free and Basic plan ($12/month) both limit you to 100 appointments so if you’ll be generating more than that a month then you’ll be looking at paying $25/month for 300 appointments.
The interface isn’t quite as clean as SetMore or Square, for example.
When to use 10to8
10to8 is perfect for coaches, counselors, massage therapists, etc. who have fewer than 100 appointments a month as they won’t have to pay anything. 10to8’s Bigger Business plan ($50/month) complies with HIPAA Privacy regulations, making it a good solution for healthcare institutions.
Free for 2 staff logins and 100 appointments. Paid plans start from $12/month.
After finding out that SavvyCal was set up by the co-founder of the successful email marketing software, Drip, we were keen to test it out for this article. See how it did below!
Pros to using SavvyCal
The setup process is pain-free and fast; you’re given the opportunity to integrate with your Google, Outlook, or iCloud calendar, as well as Zoom, the video conferencing software.
The dashboard is simple and in no way overwhelming, so great for those looking for a simple solution. You can embed your scheduling links on your website as a lightbox or a chat widget, and you’ll get unlimited everything on the Basic plan.
A big disadvantage is that you’re not able to take online payments with SavvyCal, which may well be a dealbreaker for many. The Basic plan features SavvyCal’s branding, and in general, I found the knowledge base to be a little thin.
When to use
Considering there’s no free plan, it’s a bit difficult to recommend SavvyCal over the competition. However, if you’re looking for a simple, well-designed scheduling app, and don’t require payment processing, then you might like to try it out for free for 7 days.
Basic plan costs $12/user/month and comes with unlimited scheduling links, unlimited calendars, unlimited events. Premium will cost you $20/user/month, with the added benefit of removing SavvyCal branding from your links.
If you pay annually, you’ll get 2 months free. Students or nonprofits get 25% off.
Get the first month of a paid plan completely free with the link below!
Scheduling app free software is available with almost all of the scheduling apps mentioned, but as you’ve seen, some freemium plans are more generous than others.
SetMore is by far the best one to go for if you don’t want to spend a penny nor miss out on features. For absolutely nothing, you’ll get up to 4 staff logins, automated emails, unlimited bookings and you can accept payments with Square! MeetFox also offers a very generous free plan, complete with unlimited meetings, email reminders and payment processing.
Though SetMore is an excellent scheduling app, once you move onto the Premium plan things can get quite pricey ($25/month). As a small business, I’m sure you’re interested in keeping costs low, which is why you should take a look at SimplyBook.me ($9.90/month).
You can set up a simple but attractive website with them, accept payments from a wide range of payment processors and book up to 100 appointments.
To be honest, any of the apps listed in this article would work well for salons. Though I imagine you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to under 100 appointments a month and you’d want to take online payments ahead of time to avoid losses. I’d recommend you take a look at SetMore, its Free plan is the best deal for sure.
All of the services mentioned are cloud-based, meaning you won't need to download any software to your computer. Some also come with a mobile app.
So, there you have it, the best appointment scheduling software for your business. As you’ve probably already worked out, SetMore’s Free plan is my top choice! But that isn’t to say that the other apps on this list don’t deserve a look in. In fact, I found all of the tools really easy to use, which is a breath of fresh air, and great news for non-techy small business owners.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. Let me know how you get on using your chosen app!
18 Oct 2021 – Added MeetFox
31 May 2021 – Added Cogsworth
27 May 2021 – Acuity Scheduling changed to Squarespace Scheduling
12 May 2021 – Added SavvyCal
04 May 2021 – Updated table design
07 Sept 2020 – Added Calendly