Summary: Microsoft Bookings, Acuity Scheduling (Acuity) and Yocale are scheduling and online booking solutions that allow clients to book your services and pay online. In the case of Microsoft Bookings, scheduling/online booking is only an added feature within the larger Microsoft Business packages whereas this is Acuity and Yocale’s core functionality. While Microsoft Bookings is great for internal scheduling, it lacks the sophistication required for external-based scheduling, which is an important distinction for appointment-based businesses and practices such as salons and massage therapists who require more advanced scheduling capabilities as well as customization.
In the discussion of Acuity vs Yocale, Acuity is a better fit for businesses that need to offer classes as Yocale does not currently have this functionality. However, while Yocale requires somewhat of a larger upfront investment than Acuity, it has functionality like Reserve with Google and Yocale Pay that can not only lead to up to 64% new bookings but also save up to $4,000 in payment processing fees every year. Multiple features are also more advanced than Acuity, including forms, annotations (Acuity does not have this functionality at all) as well multi-location support. With Yocale, it’s also possible to capture automated reviews after each appointment, leading to greater online presence, as well as to create custom invoices. While Acuity does have light Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality, it primarily relies on integrating with other CRMs whereas Yocale has a very robust CRM that does not result in additional cost.
Finally, a common complaint about Acuity is its lack of customer support as you’ll see below. Yocale, meanwhile, offers personalized onboarding for a hands-free setup.
Considering Microsoft Bookings vs Acuity?
More and more businesses and practices are moving toward scheduling and online booking software to allow customers and clients to book online in order to better fill their schedules, reduce administrative time and no-shows all while streamlining operations.
If you’re currently on the market for scheduling and online booking software and are considering your options, this blog post will walk you through an in-depth review of Microsoft Bookings vs Acuity as well as introduce you to a third option that you could be missing out on (that’s Yocale!).
What is Microsoft Bookings Used For? What About Acuity and Yocale?
Microsoft Bookings, Acuity and Yocale are all appointment scheduling solutions that allow clients to book services online.
Microsoft Bookings, in particular, is one feature of the Microsoft 365 Business (Standard) package while both Acuity and Yocale’s core functionality is scheduling/online booking.
Is Microsoft Bookings Still Available?
A popular question that a lot of people ask is whether Microsoft Booking is even still available. As of the time of this writing in November 2021, Microsoft Bookings is definitely still available.
Microsoft Bookings vs Acuity vs Yocale
The biggest difference between Microsoft Bookings, Acuity and Yocale is really in how central appointment scheduling is to the platform, which may be an important distinction depending upon the type of business you have (more on this below).
In the case of Microsoft Bookings, appointment scheduling is really only an added feature in the larger Microsoft 365 Business plan – not one of its core offerings. Put another way, Microsoft was primarily designed for Outlook and not scheduling and online booking.
While Microsoft Bookings is a great option for internal scheduling and being able to schedule internally, Microsoft Bookings lacks the sophistication required of external-based scheduling. This means that, unlike Acuity or Yocale, Microsoft Bookings is unable to factor in resources, length of services and so on.
Because externally-facing scheduling requires more logic. With Acuity and Yocale, you are in charge of your availability, which takes numerous things into consideration.
Both Acuity and Yocale have other offerings like client management (although Acuity relies on more of a third-party integration), form-builders and so on that may also be beneficial for appointment-based businesses.
In terms of scheduling-related functionality, Microsoft Bookings allows you to offer online booking, send automated reminders and accept payments. You’ll also get access to Microsoft Teams and reporting functionality.
In addition to all of the above, both Acuity and Yocale also offer form-builders (so you can automate your paper-based forms) as well as CRM and marketing features. Acuity, however, has a much more light version of the CRM when compared to Yocale.
With forms functionality, forms are presented at the time of booking (intake, direct billing, consultation, waivers, COVID-related, etc.) and clients can complete them with their booking. Businesses and practices save a lot of admin time instead of going back and forth with clients. Forms get tagged and stored as part of their client record automatically.
A CRM like Yocale allows you to see each client’s journey; you can store client details as well as notes, forms and so on, and get an overview of the metrics associated with each client.
In terms of scheduling/online booking functionality alone (and not other features like form builders for which Acuity and Yocale are known for), Yocale’s Essential Plan is entirely free and is, therefore, the least expensive option on this list. Microsoft Bookings is offered in the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan at $12.99 USD while Acuity’s cheapest plan begins at $14.00. All plans are per user.
It should be noted that while Microsoft Bookings and Acuity allow you to also accept payments in their base plans, you’ll have to upgrade to Yocale’s Pro plan ($40) in order to do this.
Microsoft Bookings: Users find Microsoft Bookings easy to use and that it fulfills its scheduling and online booking functionality. However, there is an overall lack of flexibility and some find it expensive for what’s being offered.
Compared to Microsoft Bookings, Acuity offers a higher degree of customization (and, of course, greater functionality overall).
However, there is a learning curve, and a common complaint that Acuity receives is its lack of customer service. Customer support is only available during business hours (and by email only).
Yocale: Yocale also offers a high degree of customization when compared to Microsoft Bookings. One of the benefits is that it’s generally easy to use and intuitive, but because it’s continually expanding its functionality, users might not always have a sense of what is actually available. Compared to Acuity, customer support is not an issue (customer success managers are available 365 days a year by email, phone and chat). It also offers a personalized onboarding experience wherein customer success managers will walk you through the software. This personalized experience can offer competitive advantages.
If you’re looking for basic scheduling and online booking functionality, particularly for internal use, and have no need to send forms, manage your clients or anything else, Microsoft Bookings may be enough for you. However, if you only need to do scheduling (without the need to accept payments), Yocale’s Essential plan will give you free access. You’ll also have an opportunity to grow.
That said, if you’re an appointment-based business or practice, Acuity or Yocale are likely a much better fit for you overall than a more basic option like Microsoft Bookings due to the fact that it lacks flexibility and functionality that is beneficial to these specific types of businesses and practices.
More on Acuity vs Yocale below!
Acuity vs Yocale
If you’ve decided that a solution with scheduling and online booking at the forefront of the platform may be the better fit compared to Microsoft Bookings, the next question you may be asking is what’s the difference between Yocale vs Acuity?
Both Acuity and Yocale have many of the hallmark features you typically find in scheduling and online booking software. This includes email and SMS reminders, the ability to accept online payments, client management and the ability to send forms at the time of booking.
But there are also several areas where they differ:
In summary, Acuity has the ability to offer classes and workshops while Yocale does yet offer this functionality. Acuity also offers gift card and membership management which Yocale does not yet offer, either. In this way, Acuity may be a better option for fitness studios and other businesses that rely on group bookings. That said, Yocale is known for being very open to feature requests from its customers.
However, Yocale also offers certain functionalities that are not available with Acuity. This includes Reserve with Google (get booked straight from Google Search and Maps), inventory management and the ability to create custom invoices with the option to add a pay button.
Reserve with Google is particularly important for new businesses or those struggling to keep full schedules as it’s responsible for generating up to 86% more new bookings.
Overall, Yocale is also richer in terms of scheduling and availability (and its smart functionality). This is especially true of its multiple location support. For instance, staff can have different schedules at each location. Instead of having to check each location separately, business owners can simply see availability at once. They can also have access to as many schedules as they like.
Yocale also has a lot of customization in terms of its booking widget (colors, language and so on).
Yocale will also automatically send clients a review to complete after their appointment. These reviews are placed on a public booking page, which gets picked up in Google search. For businesses without a website, this page acts like a mini-website. Acuity, in contrast, does not have this feature (you can include links in your email to a third-party review site like Yelp, etc.).
Yocale also offers Yocale Pay, with potential payment processing savings of up to $4,000 every year.
Perhaps a minor point, but you also cannot email clients forms within Acuity.
Package Pricing (Best Value):
Acuity’s Emerging Plan vs Yocale’s Essential (Free) Plan
Summary: The question of which plan is right for you depends upon your needs. Both plans offer appointment bookings and email notifications/reminders.
Differences in Plans: With Acuity, you can pay $14 a month, per user, and get the ability to accept payments, send marketing email blasts via MailChimp (and others) as well as reporting functionality when compared to Yocale’s Essential (free) plan. You’ll also be able to send forms with appointment bookings as well as integrate with various video conferencing platforms like Google Meet and sync your calendars with Google Calendar, Outlook and so on.
In contrast, you can get appointment bookings as well as a light CRM when using Yocale’s free plan (with Acuity you’ll only primarily integrate with Pipedrive). You’ll also get an SEO-optimized booking page that gets picked up in Google search when using Yocale.
However, scheduling will be much more advanced in terms of smart functionality and able to take numerous factors into consideration when booking with Yocale.
Acuity’s Growing Plan vs Yocale’s Grow Plan
Summary: Acuity and Yocale’s mid-tier plans are both fairly comparable in terms of price ($23 and $25 respectively). Both plans allow you to book an unlimited number of appointments, get email and text reminders/notifications and integrate your appointment calendar with Google Calendar and Outlook.
Differences in Plans: In addition to the above functionality, you’ll be able to set up calendars for up to three more staff members when using Acuity (six and three staff respectively). Yocale, however, will give you access to Reserve with Google as well as its comprehensive CRM.
Acuity’s Powerhouse Plan vs Yocale’s Pro Plan
Acuity’s and Yocale’s more top-tiered plans come in at $40 and $45 respectively. Yocale’s Pro plan also enables payments, forms, marketing and reporting functionality, none of which will come with additional integration fees.
Differences in Plans: Acuity also offers custom API access, which is only available with Yocale’s most expensive plan (more on this below). In short, though, Yocale goes beyond scheduling and online booking toward more advanced functionality like a CRM and annotations, to name a few.
*Unlike Acuity, Yocale also offers a fourth plan (Ultimate) for $80, which includes custom API access, a dedicated customer success manager to help your business and access to its integrated video conferencing tool, Yocale Meet.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is Acuity Scheduling Worth It?
A common question people ask is “Is Acuity worth it”? The answer is, “It depends.” When compared to Microsoft Bookings, there is no question that Acuity will be a much better choice for appointment-based businesses that need a lot of customization and additional functionality like forms, client management and so on.
However, the question becomes a bit trickier when you compare Acuity to Yocale (unless you need to offer classes or workshops). For class-based businesses, Acuity will likely be a better fit at this time. However, if you do not offer classes or appointments, Yocale generally requires a slightly larger upfront investment but also comes with greater functionality like Reserve with Google and Yocale Pay, with the potential for greater boosts to revenue. Yocale is generally easy to use and offers great customer support. You also get a lot of bang for your buck.
Does Acuity Integrate with Microsoft Teams?
At the time of writing, Acuity does not integrate with Microsoft Teams.
Wrapping it Up
In the discussion of Microsoft Bookings vs Acuity vs Yocale, the right fit likely depends upon your type of business. If you’re not an appointment-based business, Microsoft Bookings may be enough if your scheduling needs are internally-based.
If you’re an appointment-based business that offers classes, Acuity is likely the better choice. If you fall outside of these two categories, though, Yocale comes with key functionality (Reserve with Google, Yocale Pay) that far surpasses its cost. It also does not lack customer support. Yocale also offers personalized onboarding and training for a totally hands-free set-up so you can forget about setting up your entire business.
Remember: at the end of the day, the wrong appointment booking experience can hurt your business so you’ve got an important decision to make!