(This post was originally published on nookcalendar.com. Want to try our new app? Download Bloks for free. )
Interest in meeting scheduling software surged to previously unseen heights over the past two years and continues to grow in popularity.
With most deskbound workers still confined to their homes, tech conglomerates and a cottage industry of upstarts have risen to the occasion. They continue to create new meeting scheduling tools and enhance existing ones to help us stay connected.
One of them was Calendly. Founded in 2010, the appointment scheduling software grew its userbase over the past two years as everyone from sales teams to senior management grappled with booking a time to chat with people inside and outside of their organizations.
But a recent viral tweet reignited a fiery debate about the inherent shortcomings of Calendly, making some question: “what else is out there?” And, “Is there something better than Calendly?”
Whether you're new to meeting scheduling software or simply want to find a better alternative to Calendly, look no further.
Our guide to meeting scheduling software offers a breakdown of the important meeting scheduling tool features. It also provides suggestions on what to look for when choosing an easy meeting scheduler.
But before we dive into things, let's define meeting scheduling software for the newbies and explain some of the benefits.
What is meeting scheduling software?
Meeting scheduling software helps individuals and groups of users determine the best time to schedule a meeting together. Scheduling software helps users share availability by connecting to a user's calendar, displaying their free and busy times, and generating a booking form or link that can be shared with other users who select their preferred time to meet.
Meeting schedulers are often designed to eliminate back-and-forth emails when determining the perfect meeting time. But that isn't always the case. Sometimes, they have the opposite effect and can lead to even longer conversations and more confusion when booking a meeting.
Benefits of meeting scheduling software
It's Easier to Stay Organized
Online meeting scheduling apps make it easy to keep track of meetings without searching through multiple calendars and can sync across multiple devices, so you always know what's next on your schedule (even if you're away from your computer).
Fewer No-Shows or Forgotten Meetings
Scheduling software reduces the likelihood of someone forgetting about a meeting. Meeting scheduling apps put events front and center in your calendar. They'll often send automated reminders and notifications in the event you or the people you're meeting with forget about a meeting or appointment.
Easy Access to Calendars
Online meeting apps that help you schedule meetings will allow recipients to conveniently select a time at their leisure, so you don't need to wait around for a response and manually add it to your calendar.
Alright, now that's out of the way…
What to Look for in Meeting Scheduling Software
1. Calendar App Synchronization and Third-Party Software Integrations
Integrations are essential to meeting scheduling software. Without the ability to see availability, create an event in a calendar, or video conferencing software to facilitate a meeting, it's impossible to know when someone's free and book a meeting.
When selecting meeting scheduling software, check to see what calendar apps the software can be integrated with, such as Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook (many providers only sync with one or the other and not both).
Also, check which communications software the app supports. Popular video meeting and calling software include Zoom, Webex, and Google Meet, among others.
2. Customizable Meeting Scheduling Booking Forms
Customizable booking forms and availability settings are the second most important factor when deciding which meeting scheduling software to choose.
Meeting scheduling software should have ample capabilities and settings when it comes to blocking off certain days, adjusting meeting lengths, adding buffers (such as blocked time slots and predetermined start and end times), and factoring in time zone changes. Users can share the times that work best for them while also creating boundaries to prevent overlap with other events.
3. Easy Booking Link Creation
Scheduling software should also provide users with the ability to select their preferred dates and times and share availability directly with recipients—either through direct links or embeds in messages—to reduce any further back-and-forth conversations. From there, any selected times are immediately added as an event in each person's calendar.
Although uncommon with some meeting scheduling software, Nook Calendar offers dynamic availability. Links aren't permanent, and as preferred meeting times are selected by invitees, available times are dynamically updated to reflect real-time availability and prevent double bookings.
4. Automated Meeting Reminders and Notifications
Booking a meeting is great and all. But what's the point if no one shows up or attendees are late to the meeting?
Automated reminders like emails, SMS messages, and push notifications alert recipients to meeting start times and reduce the likelihood of no-shows.
5. Mobile Friendliness and Ease of Use
Recent months have seen a shift towards hybrid and flexible working arrangements. That means, although many still work from home, people are increasingly away from their computers. They may be heading into the office, picking up their kids from school, or running errands while they work.
Meeting scheduling software should be easy to use for both the event organizer and the people responding to the request to meet, so creating shareable links or selecting a time to meet is simple even when someone's on the go.
Many booking software providers only offer web interfaces. Consider broadening your search to Calendly alternatives that are mobile-friendly and offer easy-to-use interfaces and are accessible whether someone is using an iPhone or Android.
6. In-Depth Meeting Analytics
The majority of our everyday activities are now digitized, and the last thing you probably need is another set of data to dig through that ends up distracting you from your actual work.
But meeting scheduling software can sometimes surface relevant insights—about repeat no-shows, meeting locations, and time spent in meetings—that can help you better plan your days.
Although accessing meeting analytics isn't necessary, they're certainly nice to have and becoming more common in the emerging scheduling software market.
Last but certainly not least, you want to consider the overall cost of using meeting scheduling software.
For teams that want to propose meeting times more easily, Nook Calendar helps sync your calendar and set up meetings quickly and easily.
Meanwhile, organizations with larger teams can expect to pay anywhere from $8-16 per user for a service that offers paid plans like Calendly or another alternative.
What's the best meeting scheduling software?
There are a lot of options. But the answer to "what's the best software to schedule meetings" isn't so cut and dry. Some people are content with free meeting scheduling software while other individuals or teams with many team members (such as a sales team) may need more bells and whistles.
This guide is simply a starting point. That said, we know it'll provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision when choosing a Calendly alternative or meeting scheduling software.