Online Appointment Scheduling: Four Cool Services for Service Industries

Last Updated Oct 4, 2010 10:25 AM EDT


If you're a consultant, financial advisor, nutritionist, or anyone else who routinely meets with clients, you know what a hassle scheduling can be -- especially if you're still managing it with pen and paper.

Wouldn't it be great if your customers could hit a Web site, check your availability, and schedule their own appointments -- no receptionist required?

I've rounded up four online-scheduling services designed for exactly that purpose. They let you post your available time slots and clients choose the ones they want. Some of them can even accept payment in advance, and some will send out reminders to help reduce missed appointments.

All four services offer some kind of free account or trial so you can test the waters; I've included pricing information for their premium options.

Acuity A Professional account costs $10/month and includes credit-card processing, an optional online store, and unlimited clients and appointments. It supports a single user; a multiple-user account costs $19/month.

BookFresh Formerly HourTown (I liked that name better), the site charges $19.95/month and includes PayPal payments, Facebook-powered lead generation, and unlimited clients and appointments. It supports multiple users.

Genbook Also $19.95/month, Genbook offers credit-card capture (but not processing), a "book now" button for your Facebook page, and unlimited clients and appointments. It supports a single user; a multiple-user account costs $39.95/month.

OpenCal The new kid on the online-scheduling block, OpenCal charges $19/month. Features include a drag-and-drop calendar, client booking history, and unlimited clients and appointments. It supports a single user; a multiple-user account costs $39/month.

Have you tried these or other online-scheduling services? If so, which one(s) did you like best? I think Acuity offers the best bang for the buck -- unless you have multiple staffers who need scheduling, in which case BookFresh is the bargain to beat.
  • Rick Broida On Twitter»

    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.