For small and medium-sized business owners, class scheduling software is an integral part of running their operations. Its use is applicable to a huge array of industries and services from B2B appointment scheduling to B2C booking services such as gyms, salons, workshops, tutoring, events, and more.
If you’re just getting started with your service offering or you simply need more time in your day to run your business, scheduling software is a huge helping hand. But what should you look for in scheduling software, what are the benefits of using it, and which is the best class scheduling software? We cover this and more in our full guide below.
What is class scheduling software?
Class scheduling software is a type of software that enables you to schedule and book classes online. While forms of this software vary, generally it’s used for booking online or in-person classes, events, or appointments as well as ticket selling.
Generally, class scheduling software creates a calendar for your business. This allows you to create events, classes or lessons, and for your customers to book an appointment or time slot that suits their schedule and yours.
Why use class scheduling software?
For small businesses and organizations, class scheduling software is a must-have. Some of the main perks include:
Reduce admin time
By having all your classes, attendees, and payments stored in one place, there is a large reduction in the admin work necessary to manage your classes, events, and bookings. You can create a booking website in no time, accept online appointments and send email notifications to your clients without lifting a finger. Your class scheduling software automates all of this.
Even better, you are free of the social media drudgery, too. Most of these tools have automated sharing features that allow you to promote your event across social channels without having to copy/paste and click around.
So, your scheduling software becomes a one-stop solution for calendar management and marketing. Your availability will also update in real-time, ensuring that your customers are always booking based on your current schedule.
No calendar clashes and more time to focus on your workshop or upcoming class!
Make bookings easier
Software integrations and add-ons can make managing your classes even simpler. These can include online payment management, integrations with your accounting software, and social media plugins.
Integrations with Google and social media platforms such as Facebook help your customers book easily without having to hunt for your website and booking page.
Look out for software that allows clients to access your calendar and book on all devices — smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.
Drive repeat bookings
Class scheduling software can give you the biggest competitive advantage of all — the power of follow-up.
Some of these platforms enable you to send automated emails to each customer who has attended your event. Invest a bit of time to personalize these follow-ups and you’ll drive repeat bookings. Not to mention that you’ll also open up a lot of upsell opportunities.
Make your workflow easier
Scheduling software often has super user-friendly features and interfaces, making it easy to learn and use. These apps generally focus around a calendar with daily, weekly, monthly views, allowing you to see your appointments at a glance. There is also a back-end CRM that gives you an overview of your customers.
Keep your customer data safe
Scheduling software usually automates the data collection for each of your clients and keeps it secured safely for you. This saves time searching for booking data, email addresses, and phone numbers!
And it also saves money. Typically, CRM systems (customer relationship management systems) cost thousands of dollars a year which may be too big a price tag for small businesses and self-employed business owners. A class-scheduling platform with a CRM module gives you the advantages of using a CRM with none of the extra expenses.
Who should use class scheduling software?
While the term “class scheduling software” may sound limiting, these are often multi-purpose apps that will work well for lots of different industries. Class booking software is commonly used for:
- Online education for schools and universities
- Creative classes and workshops
- Life coaching
- Business gurus and entrepreneurs
Let’s explore the needs and use cases for each of these industries.
In this case, we’re talking about schools and universities. Online classes for other sectors will come up shortly!
With the COVID-19 pandemic, operations quickly shifted from in-person to remote teaching for staff and students across the globe. At the time, lesson timetables for older children remained largely the same with virtual learning using teleconferencing programs such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Younger children, however, were more likely to have a combination of videos to watch, catch-up sessions with their classmates, and remote learning.
Class scheduling software was (and still is) the perfect solution to this problem. Teachers faced demanding logistics when it came to remote lesson planning, sharing resources, and timetabling each of their classes. This type of software allows teachers to add their timetables, invite learners to each class, run online lessons, send automated reminders, and share resources with their students.
Online and in-person tutors and tutoring centers
Similarly to the education sector, tutors and tutoring centers often face demanding logistics. These range from no-shows and organizing repeat lessons to managing all aspects of payments.
Class scheduling software is the perfect solution to address all of these issues for online and in-person tutors and tutoring centers. One of the main advantages of it is the scheduling, where it’s easier for parents or children to reschedule their learning sessions, create block bookings and integrate with both the tutor’s calendar and the student/parent’s calendar.
Wellness organizations for meditation and therapy
Whether it’s a 5-day trip to Bali or a lakeside wellness weekend, meditation and therapy retreats are another prime candidate for booking software.
Not only does scheduling software help you manage bookings, but some options allow you to track customer data and progress through various appointments or treatments. If your software has social media and email integrations, there are options to automatically publish and share these with your followers.
Creative classes: art classes, dance workshops, and cooking
Creative classes are the ideal candidates for class scheduling software. Whether taking place online or in person, the software will allow clients to book in advance and get all the details of your classes without your intervention.
If your workshops run over the space of a few days or weeks, this can easily be scheduled into the software from the get-go, making clients aware of the length and commitment level before booking.
Online webinars, workshops, and events
For businesses that run any type of online event that requires booking and ticketing, class scheduling software is a lifesaver.
These can be very admin-heavy with lots of promotion needed to fill the booking. Class scheduling software takes away a lot of administrative resources by offering simple ways to book and handling online payments securely. Automated email marketing and reminders are a great way of keeping attendees informed and attendance maximized.
Coaches & gurus
Coaches spend a large portion of their working days coaching. However, they’re also busy running free webinars, generating leads, and working on their content. Coaching is also far more effective when customers are truly bought in and ready to commit, so by using scheduling software, clients can book their sessions on a time and date that suits them (and you!)
What should you look for in scheduling software?
Flexible scheduling features
The number one priority for booking and events management software is its scheduling features. This comes in the form of a calendar where you want to be able to manage your availability and days off. While you don’t have to use the features that allow your customers to book themselves in, having a calendar with all upcoming classes will be critical to managing your time effectively.
Besides this, some class scheduling software allows you to share and publish upcoming (open) events or bookings in multiple places, just by adding them once to your calendar. For ongoing workshops or weekly sessions, you can duplicate and bulk schedule events to save on admin time.
One of the most useful features of class scheduling software is third-party integrations. For smaller businesses, marketing is very often done using social media. So, by using scheduling software that integrates with Facebook, for example, it becomes even simpler for your customers to book an experience with you. Integrations with email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp are also a big time-saver, allowing you to automate booking confirmations and reminder emails.
Arguably the most important part of integrations is the payment management systems. Processing one-off or regular payments, issuing refunds, creating invoices, and integrating with your accounting software will save an extraordinary amount of time! Make sure to look out for software with third-party integrations that have these features to make your life easier.
It’s important to choose a class scheduling platform for your business that scales as you do. That means if you hire a new staff member or circumstances change and you need to add more events quickly, that your software doesn’t prevent you from doing this. That’s why we recommend choosing a provider that allows unlimited monthly events, staff, and bookings.
Similarly, if you need some time off or a break, you don’t want to be paying for a service that only suits your business when it’s running at full capacity. This may mean wasting money on a solution that’s too big for your needs.
When your entire business runs on a piece of software, it’s crucial that you have the support you need if anything happens. We can’t stress enough the importance of choosing booking software that has fast and exceptional customer service to help you if you find yourself in a pinch.
As we mentioned above, one of the most admin-heavy tasks is chasing payments or assigning bank transfers to customers. And many business owners find themselves using several different systems to do it.
So, a booking system that allows customers to book and pay online is key. Whether this is a built-in feature or an integration with third-party payment software, it’s important that it’s able to take and schedule a range of payment types. Consider options for your clients such as deposits, paying in instalments, and the choice of payment methods including Mastercard, AMEX, and VISA.
An integrated scheduling system that aligns payments with your calendar will also help in the event of refunds, recurring payments, or cancellations.
What is the best software for scheduling?
Occasion is the ideal pick for private, public, or group sessions. It’s not built with a specific sector or industry in mind which makes it a very flexible piece of class management software. Occasion also handles events, bookings, and ticket sales.
Occasion is a good choice for anyone looking for flexibility and scalability. The platform has a wide range of integrations with social media and your other marketing tools which increase the level of automation available. With its basic (and only) paid plan including absolutely all features and unlimited events, bookings, and customers, you won’t need to worry about exceeding your monthly limits. Don’t let the booking fee put you off — 91% of Occasion customers pass this cost on to their clients.
- Unlimited appointments, clients, and services
- Create and organize events, including multiple venues and/or multiple days
- Add your booking calendar to any website
- Accept payments online from credit card or check
- Track and manage payments in installments such as deposits and balances due
- Auto-publish events to Facebook, Google Search, Google My Business, and Google Maps
- Abandoned cart and booking reminder emails
- Customer rewards including referrals, coupons, and gift cards
- Client customer database and customer profiles
- Accounting and marketing reports with export options
$19 a month flat fee and 2% per booking
Glofox booking app
Created with gyms in mind, Glofox is a good choice for fitness centers with its innovative gym and studio management software. This software always works well for less frequent classes such as weekly yoga.
Glofox is a piece of software designed mainly with gyms in mind and has a range of useful features. However, with the relatively high monthly cost, some businesses might find this an expensive option.
- Host online and onsite classes
- Build an online community of clients
- Create automated and target communications via email and text
- Fully customizable calendar and booking system, allowing members to schedule themselves in to classes
- Data analytics to track revenue and membership growth
- Apps for both members and staff
- Payment processing and barcodes to check-in
From $100 – $190 a month
Website-creator giants Wix have created online scheduling software, Wix Bookings, to work seamlessly with their own website builder.
Wix Bookings is easy to use and has all the bells and whistles of a great class scheduling platform. The Business Unlimited plan, which starts at $23, has most features that would entice you to choose this solution such as secure online payments, removing ads on your calendar and a decent amount of video and data storage. Their most basic plan simply lets you connect a non-Wix website with your Wix scheduling software and, at the cost of $3 a month, will show Wix ads on your booking calendar.
- Common third-party payment solutions such as Wix Payments, PayPal, and Stripe
- Reports & analytics
- A mobile app with customizable options
- Calendar options for clients
- Staff management and scheduling
- Sell packages and memberships
- Waiting lists and custom booking forms
- Integrated with Zoom for delivery of online services
From $3 – $32 when paid annually
Hailed as the scheduling software with the cleanest interface, Acuity Scheduling is easy-to-use calendar management and booking software.
While Acuity is sleek and straightforward to use, many of the features they sell themselves on are only available for businesses that pay $45 a month for their Powerhouse annual subscription. The limits on number of staff and locations are suitable for small one-man-band businesses, but in order to scale up, businesses face a price hike from $168 annually to $276 annually.
- The ability to manage multiple locations and employees
- Privacy features to keep bookings confidential
- Automated email reminders
- Cancellations and rescheduling for both client and business owner
- Secure client information storage as required by HIPAA
- Online payments from Stripe, Square, or PayPal
- Offer gift certificates, packages, memberships, or group classes
- Video conferencing integrations
- customizable calendar
From $14 – $45 monthly when paid annually
Created with salons, spas, and fitness centers in mind, Vagaro has all the basic features you’d need to run your business more efficiently.
Overall, Vagaro is a good choice for beauty and fitness services such as salons, chiropractors, or gyms. It is more expensive than the other comparable options but does offer a customizable app for clients which is a big plus.
Vagaro does have a lot of optional upgrades such as the branded app, online shopping card, customer website, or customer forms. All of these come with additional monthly costs from $20-$200 a month, quickly adding up throughout the year. They also encourage businesses to use their small merchants credit card processing, which costs 2.75% per swipe and 3.5% per keyed-in transaction.
- Easy-to-use calendar function
- Online booking, social media, and review website notifications
- A customizable app with push and in-app notifications
- Customer tracking including SOAP notes
- Automated email and text reminders (although text marketing comes at an additional cost of $20 a month)
- Staff management including payroll, commission, and clocking in/out
- Online payments and POS (point of sale) processing (extra cost) with a free mobile credit card reading to take in-person payments
From $25 – $85 a month
While Vcita offers a range of solutions for SMEs, we’ll focus on their online scheduling software for now. Their service is designed to be super-simple and easy to manage, without a focus on any particular industry.
Vcita includes everything you’d expect from simple online scheduling software. Their calendars are customizable with your logo and brand colors, and sync into both WordPress and Wix websites. There are also options for integrating with Zoom, charging upfront for services, and the ability to create rescheduling and cancellation policies and rules to prevent last-minute no-shows.
- Calendar function with services and availability
- A scheduling button that can be added to your website, Facebook page, emails, or Google My Business listing
- Functions to let clients schedule either online meetings using Zoom, a phone conference call, or a face-to-face meeting
- A landing page service for businesses without a website
- Employee calendars with the ability to assign staff to services or appointments
- Automated booking confirmations and appointment reminders via email
From $12 to $239 a month
WellnessLiving is an “all-in-one software solution” with over 10 million users. Their main business types served are those working in health and fitness, as aestheticians, and for activities or tours.
WellnessLiving serves their intended markets well, but unfortunately, many of their USPs require additional monthly payments. For example, the Basic ($59) and Advanced ($99) monthly packages both require $19 a month additional payments for the “Book A Spo”’ function. Both options also don’t include email and SMS marketing or check-in apps. Crucially, FitVID and Zoom integrations will cost you, too. This means that you’re looking at the upper end of this scale for a comprehensive and fully integrated service from WellnessLiving.
- Clients can book classes, private sessions, or equipment
- Zoom integration for video meetings
- Video streaming options using FitVID on Demand
- Integration with ‘Reserve With Google’ on search engines with schedule and upcoming events automatically synced
- Let clients book spots or rooms (applicable mainly to gyms and fitness studios)
- Customer app to book on-the-go
- Customizable widgets for Facebook and your website
From $59 – $259 a month
Built in 2006 to serve businesses and organizations with complex appointment scheduling needs. TimeTap works with 1,000s of businesses and has 4,000,000 appointments booked so far.
TimeTap offers plenty of accessible features for businesses with one member of staff working from one location. Its big drawback is that adding additional staff (5 at a time) comes at an extra cost of $15 – $25 a month. This makes the software tricky to invest in if you’re thinking of expanding or scaling up your business any time soon.
- Online booking and calendar management
- Accept and manage online payments
- Customizable booking forms
- iOS & Android apps
- Multiple staff calendars
- Unlimited appointments, clients, and services
From $24.95 – $74.95 monthly
Best Class Scheduling Software Comparison
|Scheduling Software||Free trial length||Payment integrations||Extra costs for some features?||Pricing (monthly range)|
|Occasion||90 days||PayPal, Square, Stripe||No||$19 a month + 2% per booking|
|Gloflox||Demo only||Stripe, GoCardless||Yes||$100 – $190|
|Wix||No||Affirm, Afterpay, PayPal, Pinwheel, Sezzle||Yes||$3 – $32|
|Acuity Scheduling||7 days||PayPal, Square, Stripe||Yes||$14 – $45|
|Vagaro||30 days||Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Vagaro Merchant Services||Yes||$25 – $85|
|Vcita||14 days||PayPal, Square, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay||Yes||$12 – $239|
|WellnessLiving||Demo only||WellLiving software only||Yes||$59 – $259|
|TimeTap||30 days||PayPal, Square, Stripe, Authorize.net, Cayan, E-Xact||Yes||$24.95 – $74.95|
In essence, all kinds of businesses can benefit from and thrive with class scheduling software. The low monthly costs add tremendous value to your business while saving extraordinary amounts of admin time. Their integrations, payment options, and automations also help businesses to promote and engage with their customers. The use of class scheduling software generally leads to:
- Fewer no-shows and higher levels of attendance
- Happier customers
- Less administrative resources
- Simpler and more frequent promotion of your event, class, webinar, or workshop.
After testing the options available on the market, we think that Occasion is the best class scheduling software available currently. The low price, scalability, volume of features, and ease of use are a great combination. Of course, your pick can be different so we recommend trying out these solutions yourself.
References and further reading
- Occasion Booking Software
- How To Sell Out A Workshop Even In Lockdown
- The 8 Best Tactics For Promoting A Workshop Like A Pro
- Best Email Marketing Platforms