Best Appointment Schedulers and Booking Apps 

 When it comes to online appointment scheduling for your business, you need an appointment scheduling app that's as dynamic and professional as you are. Whether you're a fitness studio booking classes or a solo entrepreneur scheduling remote calls, all the tasks that make up booking management can easily eat into your precious work hours. 

I've used several appointment scheduling apps through the years to book discovery calls and client meetings. In my experience, there may be many solutions to choose from—but they don't all stack up.

Focus on the meeting, not the scheduling, use Desk Flex

The best appointment scheduling software can handle short-notice cancellations and reschedule requests, take payments, and integrate with your tech stack. I considered and tested dozens of booking apps to find the ones that will free up your time to focus on the work that matters.

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The best appointment scheduling and booking software

  • Acuity Scheduling for tech newbies
  • Picktime for free booking software
  • for international businesses
  • TimeTap for customization
  • Zoho Bookings for managing your entire business
  • vcita for managing client relationships

What is an appointment scheduler?

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?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. 

The best booking apps do more 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. The best appointment scheduling apps know that different kinds of organizations have different needs, so 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. For our tests, apps were only considered if they offered syncing with Google Calendar and at least one other popular calendar—and priority was given to apps that offered two-way syncing. 
  • 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.
  • Integration with third-party tools. Your appointment scheduling tool absolutely needs the ability to connect to the rest of your tech stack. If the app can't integrate with tools like Slack, Mailchimp, and Zoom (or at least let you set up your own connections with Zapier), it has no business being on this list.
  • Professional presentation. Your appointment scheduler should be an extension of your brand. Whether customers are making bookings or an industry peer is scheduling a Zoom call with you, the appointment scheduling process should be streamlined, glitch-free, and aesthetically pleasing. It should also be flexible, with multiple points of access like a widget on your website, a Facebook Business Page, or a custom URL. For this reason, I tested each app from both the business and client sides.

I excluded any online booking system that didn't have standalone functionality. For instance, there are plenty of WordPress plugins that let your website visitors book appointments, but that could be a list in and of itself, so I didn't consider those options.

One final consideration in choosing the best appointment schedulers was to avoid confusing them with meeting scheduling 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 often require payment at the end.