Looking for an easy to use, affordable online booking system with all the essential features… this is it! Read my TidyCal review for all the details.

TidyCal is an online booking system that allows visitors to book time in your diary. I’ve tested it out to give an honest overview. If you are fed up of paying a monthly fee for a booking system read on…

Summary

In summary, for a one off payment of $29 I think it’s a steal! You can get it here on AppSumo (affiliate link*)

All the Details – the full TidyCal Review

What is TidyCal?

TidyCal is an online booking platform that let’s visitors to your booking page select an appointment date and time and make a booking. This can be free or paid and following the booking it will send a confirmation email to both of you as well as a couple of reminders nearer to the event. You can send visitors directly to the booking link or embed it into your website. It’s a great way to save the back and forth that often comes with trying to book someone in via email and is easier than someone picking up the phone to make a first connection with you.  While not essential I would highly recommend all small businesses that offer introduction sessions think about having an online booking platform. 

Why am I testing TidyCal?

I use a booking tool called Book Like A Boss (affiliate link*) which I got on a Lifetime deal a few years ago (you pay once to use it forever). While I’m generally happy with it I don’t love it enough to recommend it.

But as I get asked for recommendations for a booking tool All The Time I’ve purchased TidyCal to take for a spin. I don’t like recommending things I haven’t used so I emailed my lovely subscriber list and offered a number of free 15 minute chats and some paid Power Hours to see whether there were any issues. I have only used TidyCal for a little over a week but I’ve had 28 bookings including 2 paid bookings.

I had 2 glitches in the bookings, one where the Zoom link didn’t create but the meeting did. This was easily resolved by sending a new link and while not ideal wasn’t a deal breaker.

The other glitch was when someone cancelled or rescheduled I got an email notifiying me but the original booking wasn’t always removed from my Google calendar. Again not a deal breaker and now something I’d now look out for. Of the 6 rescheduled or cancelled bookings this happened twice. Book Like A Boss does odd things pretty regularly too so paying more doesn’t guarantee it’s not going to have it’s moments. If either of those things were a deal breaker for you then no need to read on and enjoy your day!

What can TidyCal do?

TidyCal isn’t the most sophisticated of online booking tools but it does do all the basics pretty well. I tested the paid for version (a one off cost of $29 or about £25) which includes:

Integration with your main calendar (Up to 10 calendars can be connected).  You can connect Google Calendar, Office365 ( exchange account) and Apple Calendar. When a booking is shown it checks if you are free in your main calendar before showing the booking times. Setting this up is key to getting a booking tool to work so make sure you do this! 

– Unlimited booking types so you can have a free consultation, a paid hour, free hour, one for podcasts etc etc. 

– Integrates into your meeting software including Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. If you select that a meeting should be online and the platform then when someone makes a booking the meeting details are automatically generated and sent to both parties.

– Integrates with Stripe and PayPal to take payments for bookings BUT only one per booking type. 

– Allows you to import from Calendly if you already have it set up… I did test this but I only have a demo Calendly account. The booking types were all pulled over so even if I needed to do some formatting that’s a big timesaver if you are thinking of migrating.

– Connects to Zapier too if you have a different platform you would like to trigger actions in. (see later for an example).

– Allows personalisation. You can personalise your booking page (that shows all your appointment types in one place), your booking pages and the reminder emails. You can also send people to your own confirmation page which is a really nice touch.

– Configurable bookings. Choose the duration, padding between, how far ahead you can book, how many you offer per week for each booking type. You can also set different availability for each booking type i.e. you just offer free chats once a week but your paid service can be booked every day that you are free. 

– You can ask questions when people book. Ask a range of questions as people book so you can save time in the meeting as you already know them.

– Group bookings. You can set a limit for the number of people who can book a session at once, perfect for both online workshops or in person sessions.

– Private bookings. You can share a page which offers all your booking types but also hide specific bookings, perfect for those bookings for just VIP or established clients.

– Date polls. Ask people when they are available for an event. I didn’t use this as it’s not something I need but I had a quick play with it and it’s a nice extra feature. 

What I loved about TidyCal

It was really easy to set up. Unlike some of its competitors it was quick to get going with and I had it all set up in about 30 minutes.

It clearly shows your time zone on booking (though this doesn’t always mean people will set it correctly!) This is really important for people working globally.

Clients can reschedule and cancel their own bookings. You can set parameters for this so they give you appropriate notice of any changes.

The price has to be my favourite thing… it’s currently $29 on Appsumo (see below for more about Appsumo). The free level is also very generous, letting you have unlimited booking types with the likes of Calendly doesn’t but for the price I’d say go for paid. You have far more customisation options and you can take payments. 

A nifty email embed tool. This is a little bit of my inner geek coming out but you can share specific appointment times with people via email really easily. It’s such a neat way to personalise your invitation to someone to book and I really love this feature.

What’s not so good

You only get 2 reminder emails. On the paid plan you can customise these but there will still only be 2. I’d love to see a follow up email option too but again this isn’t possible.

No integration to add people to your email list. While this isn’t possible I’ve set it up nice and easily using Zapier to create the connection. Not a deal breaker.

It doesn’t offer text messages. Book Like a Boss sends text messages as well as reminder emails and I know people are more likely to remember to turn up because of this. 

If there are no slots available this isn’t 100% clear. You can get round this by putting a little message in the text saying if you can’t see a slot then they are all full.

The packages option is quite limited. You can offer the option to book more than one appointment as a package but they all need to be booked together which is limiting 

No coupons. You can’t share a discount code for paid bookings to reduce the cost. This can be managed by creating a separate booking type with a lower price and sharing that link but isn’t as sophisticated as other tools.

You can’t completely remove the TidyCal branding. This doesn’t bother me particularly but might be a deal breaker for some people.

Doesn’t auto show a sorry no availability message. This is a tiny nit picky point but if there are no bookings left in the period shown then it doesn’t say sorry no availability which can lead people to think it’s not working. This wouldn’t be a problem if you have a lot of slots available or alternatively you can just pop a message in the text saying if you can’t see any appointments then all availability is gone.

Would I recommend TidyCal?

If you are on a budget or don’t take lots of bookings then 100% yes. It’s $29 one time payment and if you don’t like it you have 90 days to get a refund. You buy it via a platform called AppSumo (details below) which you can get to buy clicking the big pink button!

What is AppSumo?

Appsumo is a an online marketplace that offers lifetime deals on software (and a few other things but mainly software). Often the businesses offering these deals are looking for an injection of cash or to quickly increase user numbers ahead of seeking investment and you can get some real bargains if you choose a tool that you end up using regularly. 

However, like all these things I encourage you to exercise caution. Treat it as an experiment and accept that some of the things you buy won’t be right for you or the business won’t go the way they had planned and the tool may end up being discontinued. You do get a 90 day refund period though so if you are prepared to give something a trial then you are well protected. 

TidyCal is actually created by Appsumo and they offer it permanently unlike most products that have a limited offer time. They use it almost like a lead magnet, getting you to sign up so they can tell you about all the other offers they have on. You can obviously unsubscribe from these if you choose (or if you are a sucker for these deals like me so you don’t collect lots of software you never actually use!)

* What’s an Affiliate Link?

Links with an * after them are affiliate links. Some companies offer a reward to people who share their products and services when someone makes a purchase. This is known as an affiliate fee and the link that’s used to share a tool for a potential reward is called an affiliate link. I’m recommending tools here that I use myself, I don’t recommend things I don’t use and I may get a small fee if you buy. You are always free to go and find the tool directly and you’ll never pay more because you used my link. 

 

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