Category Archives: Reviews

GetTimely–good start, still not perfect, looks not much used

I recently stumbled upon this new on-line booking system – GetTimely.com. According to their blog, they started just few months ago but the founders claim to have over 10 years of experience with booking systems. Let’s see if that shows in the final product.

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The homepage looks nice and clean (maybe a bit too much text and too many columns, but way above average), prices are a bit steeper than expected. What they offer for $19/month is not hard to find for free. Still, so far so good.

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During sign-up I felt I need to fill in too much – it is a minor complaint, granted, but who wants to be stopped and returned to the form (and fill the password again) just to add their time-zone, especially since the country has only one time-zone? Ridiculous. But again, that is only a minor, fixable detail.

 

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Sadly, this trend continues throughout the system. You are always asked to fill in more than you want. You are constantly stopped because you didn’t fill-in enough information. It is my reservation, for Pete’s sake! I want to fill in what I want to fill in, right?

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Calendar

The calendar looks nice, useful and clean. Too bad it suffers from the same mistake (or unfortunate feature) as other booking systems do: it asks you every single time weather the time you are booking is a booking indeed or an “busy time”.

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Personally, to me this is almost a deal-breaker. I understand why they did it, but it never stops annoying me. The other complaints are minor: settings too complex and non-intuitively structured (again, it is hard), wizard so-so, opening hours not as flexible as one might like.

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Lastly, it seems that after few months, GetTimely has les than a hundred users, which to me would be a warning flag. But again, everybody has to start somewhere. Maybe in few months GetTimely might be decent option. Right now it is just another booking system, nice design but annoying bugs/features.

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Groupon Scheduler–how Groupon plans to survive

I guess it would be futile to introduce Groupon, the daily-deal site that changed the service market all around the world only two years ago. Well, since the business is not going so smooth after all, and many who tried Groupon have some complaints, it makes sense that Groupon tries to take advantage of their tremendous sales-presence in so many US cities by introducing new services for their target group – the businesses that offer services.

So here comes Groupon Scheduler – branded OpenCal with Groupon behind the wheel. We tried it as soon as we could.

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You cannot choose any county outside the US for now, and Groupon Scheduler is only available for some cities. In order to test it, we had to make stuff up…

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The system is basically a nicer version of OpenCal – clean, mac-like graphics, simplified user interface, lots of white space and sort of smallish buttons.

 

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In order to solve different style of businesses in one package, Groupon Scheduler distinctly distinguishes between classes (group appointments where capacity is at stake) and individual appointments. It does so in an OK way, might be very confusing to somebody who never thought about it, though.

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There is not much settings (which is probably a good thing) and the calendar looks fairly bland and washed-up. Usability is fairly basic: no drag&drop to start a booking, for example (which is sort of annoying since that is, in my opinion, the easiest and most common way to enter new events into the calendar). Also, the views of the Calendar are really basic and might not suit everybody. For example: there is no way of viewing the weekly calendar while seeing appointments of more than just one staff (you need to filter them in the left panel).

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Overall, Groupon Scheduler is a nice start with clean interface, but might annoy you with the things that it just doesn’t do, doesn’t allow. Groupon is a big company with prime business elsewhere, and this is still a sort of BETA, so trying it won’t hurt, but think carefully before switching your business to this completely…


Using Google Calendar as Booking System through Appointment Slots

Google has recently introduced a new feature in their favorite Google Calendar app. Originally, you could only use Google Calendar as your personal journal of what is coming. Google than added features allowing you to share calendars, so you could, for example, let your family or colleagues know what are your plans.

Now Google introduced new (so far experimental feature) I stumbled upon just the other day. It is called Appointment slots and at the first look it seems like a simple booking system.

How to create an appointment slot

In Google Calendar, you have now two options when creating new appointment: event and appointment slots.

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By selecting appointment slots, you are directed to further options. Here you can set how long the appointment will be, whether it is one session or session consisting of many parts, bookable separately.

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You can also set Repeat for repeating bookings, like consultation hours or office hours, perhaps.

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How can people book your appointment?

You are given an (incredibly long) link that leads to your booking page. Unfortunately, only people who are using Google Calendar can book your appointment slots. Others will be shown a log-in/sign-up screen.

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Appointment slots are really just a basic feature, and while useful for infrequent users, it is far, far from ready for business use. The largest limitation being the dependency on users being signed in Google Calendar.


SuperSaaS review– good online appointment system with old habits

As you probably know, the SaaS stands for software as a service. SuperSaaS.com is an appointment scheduling software (as a service) that captured my attention by many languages it supports. SuperSaas also offers WordPress plug-ins, which is a nice bonus for WordPress users like myself.

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The site doesn’t look very modern to me, and it’s quite bland, frankly. The functions seem promising, though.

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You can try a demo of the booking right away, very nice. But again, the looks?

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Hands down, this is the most complicated pricing plan I have seen. Why is it so difficult. How am I supposed to know how many upcoming appointments will I need. I really do not like this.

Registration went OK, SuperSaaS doesn’t need you to fill redundant detail, although it does ask you whether you are an individual or a company.

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Unlike Appointment-Plus, Supersaas has all the countries listed. Good.

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After you finish your registration, you are welcomed by an empty dashboard. The interface seems somehow “work-in-progress” looking, as if it was not yet ready for users. The options are usually described in detail, but you really need to read, read and read to make any sense of it and find the right link.

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You can customize almost anything. But first you need to create the calendars, timetables, users, policies… Because of the versatility and lack of templates, you will need quite some time to set it all up. But that may be a good thing, if you like things just the way you want them.

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SuperSaaS Rating

SuperSaas may look a bit old-fashioned at first but provides you with great set of features. The setting up may be tedious but the result is fine from the perspective of your customer. You can customize all the messages and synchronize your appointments with Outlook or Google Calendar (have not tried yet). The GUI is sometimes counter-intuitive and you have to read a bit, but that may be the price you pay for complete customization, I guess.


OpenCal review–decent option, limitations, just buttons

OpneCal.com has a great, simple look, and all the promises sound, well, promising. On-line booking system with PayPal and SSL for customers, with all the options at hand. Well, we’ll see about that.

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The introduction to the system is well-written and the screenshots are clear and clean. Time to try OpenCal out.

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As with Genbook, only one staff member allowed for the cheaper version. No free plan either, just a trial – you can try 10 appointments for free.opencal-review-online-booking 10

Registration

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Signing up for OpenCal was straightforward and without much hassle. The guide that opens up after you sign-up, however, is not all that helpful. It took me quite some time to figure out what all needs to be filled. Frankly, for many flexible businesses this system is just too rigid, it won’t let you set flexible hours, break in the middle of the day (you can mark times as closed, but probably only one at a time) and the setting up was not as straightforward as I hoped.

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Limitations

Apart from only one staff member for the cheaper plan, this bothers me the most – no option for embedding a calendar into your website, just a button. This is, for many, including myself, a deal-breaker.

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OpenCal rating

OpenCal.com is an understandable tool with nice set of features. The guide for beginners was somewhat helpful, but a bit confusing. Again, only buttons, no embedded. Nice design, so three stars overall, but check other systems before signing up for this one. Luckily, you can try it out for free if you have time.


Genbook review – only for America, few features

Genbook.com is very nice on the outside. Graphics are nice and price is not too bad (no free plan, unfortunately). The site looks attractive and inviting.

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There are only two price plans for this booking system. I find it very restrictive to allow only one operator with the cheaper version, but I guess that is how they make more money so it makes sense (for them). Other features seem nice, only this booking system only gives you a button, so you won’t be able to embed the booking in your own website. Some will be OK with that, some want more.

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Registration – only for US and Canada

21-6-2011 10-03-12Unfortunately, Genbook is available only for US and Canada. This is a major disadvantage for many businesses from around the world,  and certainly for me. But I guess that even if I lived in the US and could call their support regularly, this would still be somewhat less desirable option, because you can’t embed…

Anyway, let’s go on with our registration.

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Inside the system – tidy, but few options

The insides of the system is easily understood, at least when it comes to the calendar. The appointment scheduling is easy, but could be better. Payments are not done very well, but couldn’t actually try it. Suffice to say that spelling out your credit card information over the phone is not the way to go.

See the comments in the screenshots for more details.

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Genbook Rating

Genbook has nice look but lacks some features, like embedding the calendar, offers just a button. It is probably usable if you don’t mind these complications. The price is average, if you have more than one person of you staff, you will need to buy the more expensive plan. No free plan available.


Tymwise.com review – looks nice, but is using flash everywhere

20-6-2011 23-19-08Tymwise.com, an Australian reservation system, looked promising. The homepage advertised 30 day free trial and a phone number to Australia.

The prices seem average for appointment managing system, and the features looked quite good. I would encourage them to go in further details in describing what the features actually mean. Some features were a nice surprise (SMS), you don’t see that every day.

I was thrown off by the lack of current information, the website just looked as if nobody maintains it. Not a good sign, but it turns out it is just an oversight, the system itself is working. They even have an app for iPhone (did not try).

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Registration

This was probably the most tedious registration yet. Why do I need to go through so many steps? Why do you need some of the information? You are probably just supposed to overcome your suspicions and move on.

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Using flash for everything 😦

Well, this is a deal breaker for me. Tymwise.com uses flash for just about the whole system. Even though this can have some advantages in the short run, I despise all such apps that fail to employ more usable technologies. Tymwise.com is not the on-line booking system for me and my customers. I will keep looking.

Here are some screenshots, for those, who can put up with Flash everywhere.

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Tymwise rating

Because of using Flash and only giving you buttons, Tymwise is not an option for me or anyone who wants to work from anywhere. Extra star for OK set of features.