How to schedule meetings using Doodle or it's alternatives
One of the biggest pains I ever have to face is sometimes scheduling a meeting for a few people, some in my organisation, and some outside. The emails go back an forth trying to arrive at some compromise, and if the meeting has to move, it all starts over again.
So after looking at freeRSVP (managing invites to one date that you set) I thought I'd have a bash at seeing what is available for scheduling meetings for multiple people. Well, it was not so easy especially if you want to do it for free. What did start to clarify is the types of things to consider when choosing a tool. I approached from the point of not buying a tool though so yes the paid version may well give a lot more.
It became clear at the start that Doodle seems to be the Slack of meeting schedulers. So let's start there:
1. Doodle - has no options for places to choose from (you need to have a venue in mind), has integration for O365, GCal, Outlook and ICS format. Can provide multiple date/time slots for invitees to choose from. Has Android and iOS apps. The Private paid version is $39pa and includes seeing who is missing, request additional information, sending reminders, sending messages, and loses the adverts. See https://doodle.com/.
2. Vyte - touts itself as "the best alternative to Doodle", has multiple place options as well as dates/times, no Outlook integration but integrates with O365 or GCal, has ready to use Slack integration. Attendees don't have to register to respond, and they can also suggest alternative times and places.. See http://doodle-alternative.vyte.in/. Payment of $96pa gets you webhook integration, team branding, own page backgrounds, assistant's access, setting default availabilities and default venues with buffer times between meetings. For individuals, the free option will probably work just fine. Vyte has webapps that work on mobile as well as a Chrome extension.
3. Xoyondo - no registration needed at all to use it, but it also means an invitee could vote/respond many times, no place options, invitees can comment, and can be anonymous (with associated problems mentioned earlier like multiple voting). With this option, you can set a maximum number of attendees and just publish a link, or you can opt for specific invites that are e-mailed directly from Xoyondo. This service probably has the most options and controls over the event, apart from multiple venues/place selection. The admin can also add attendees manually, say for those who do not work online. See https://xoyondo.com. No paid option.
4. Need2Meet - free version says no comments but I was able to comment as an invitee (this may have been because it was a trial version - no commenting can make it difficult to get feedback or consensus though), no calendar sharing, no Outlook integration, attendees can't follow the meeting for automatic changes on free version, only one place can be used. See http://www.needtomeet.com. Paid option sare $12pa or $19pa and will give unlimited timeslots and attendees, commenting, syncing of contacts, and on the Premium plan also sharing calendars and Outlook integration. Has Android and iOS apps.
5. FreeBusy - only a single date/time can be booked so it is really attendance not without options to choose alternatives by attendees, has good integration with GCal, Exchange, iCloud, Zimbra, Outlook, ownCloud, Facebook and others. See https://freebusy.io. Paid version stats at $48pa with unlimited linked calendars and sharing of free/busy time in real-time.
6. Rally - I liked the way this open source option worked except it only selected days to choose from and no time slots at all. If they added that it could be pretty well worth considering. See http://rallly.co.
7. Meeting for Good - another open source solution handling multiple times and timezones. Has GCal integration but seems to require a Google account to authenticate and log in. It summarises the "times that work for everyone" as they respond. The "grid approach" is a bit clunky unless you check first how it works, but is more flexible in that you can select multiple ranges of available time slots per day. No ability to comment though and also single venue/place. See https://meeting.freecodecamp.org/.
So there are some quite usable options to consider for free.
||Doodle: easy scheduling
Doodle helps you to schedule meetings and other appointments. Doodle is simple, quick, free and requires no registration. Simply set up a poll, send a link to all participants, watch progress online, and finally choose the most suitable date.