If you've scheduled anything via email over the last few years, you've received or sent a Calendly link. In the face of dozens of back-and-forth emails, Calendly streamlined the scheduling process by creating a simple and professional way to share availability—without exposing your whole calendar to the world.
Recent debate on the power dynamics of the Calendly link aside, it's a supremely popular and valuable meeting scheduler app. But it's not the only app on the block, and one of the most popular Calendly alternatives is Doodle.
I've used both Doodle and Calendly before—including to write last year's version of this article—but in order to do an in-depth analysis, I spent a full day retesting each app. I tried out their comparable features, dug into what had changed since I'd last spent time with these tools, and figured out where each one shines—and doesn't. Here's the breakdown:
Calendly is built for business
Both apps do group scheduling well, but differently
Calendly offers a more generous free plan
Calendly offers more business-centric integrations (but both integrate with Zapier)
Doodle vs. Calendly at a glance
If you're looking for the quick version of Calendly vs. Doodle, use this comparison table or skip ahead for our summary of who should use each app. Otherwise, you can keep reading below for a more detailed look at both tools and my experience testing each one.
Business features and customization
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Built for business with a slick, professional design and extensive controls
⭐⭐ Pivoting toward a business market, but lacks the professional interface of Calendly
⭐⭐⭐⭐ In development and shows a lot of potential
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Core feature with clear visualizations
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Nearly 30 native connections plus Zapier integration, API, and revamped Developer Portal
⭐⭐⭐ A few native connections plus Zapier
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free tier available for 1:1 scheduling; paid plans start at $8/seat/mo
⭐⭐⭐ Free tier for group scheduling with ads; paid plans start at $6.95/user/mo
Calendly is built for business
Many of the major features across Calendly and Doodle are the same. They make it easy toschedule meetings and appointments with other people by quickly sharing your availability and automatically creating new calendar events. They send out notifications and reminders to keep invitees in the loop and minimize no-shows.
The biggest difference comes down to this: Calendly is built for business.
While Doodle seems to be pivoting toward the business space (especially with its 2022 visual rebrand), the app was initially developed with the education and consumer audience in mind. That's led to some less tangible differences—like Calendly's slicker, more professional-looking interface. But it's not just about design: Calendly also offers a number of features and controls you need for business scheduling and team management that Doodle just doesn't.
Calendly gives you serious control over who can book meetings with you and when, including the option to set any of the following:
Maximum number of bookings per day
Time padding before and after meetings
Minimum amount of notice before scheduled events
Booking links that expire after one use
Universal "working hours" that serve as your default availability
You have more options for sharing your availability, too. You can share the link to your booking page(s), embed the booking flow onto a web page, or even paste specific times into an email. With the Doodle scheduler, you're limited to sharing via link or email.
New browser extensions, inbox plugins, and apps further streamline the Calendly scheduling process and ensure that Calendly fits neatly into just about any tech stack.It's also added a number of powerful new features designed for business teams and enterprises:
Round robin booking allows you to randomly assign new bookings among a pool of hosts.
Routing forms use predefined logic to route invitees to a certain booking page or team member based on their answers on a tailored intake form.
Managed events allow admin users to lock settings and templatize event types, then push them out to the whole team.
Calendly analytics pull your scheduling data into a customizable dashboard to help optimize scheduling processes.
Data deletion and governance controls help you comply with data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA and regulations like HIPAA.
And once someone books a meeting, Calendly offers full customization over the notifications and reminders you send. Doodle only allows you to control whether or not to send notifications at all.
You can even set up Calendly to accept payments along with bookings. The list of features just continues to grow.
Both apps offer excellent group scheduling, just with different angles
If you've ever encountered Doodle before, chances are it's because of the group scheduling features—that's the core, OG feature.
With the app's Group Poll, you can choose a number of specific time slots to offer and send them out to a group of people. Each person in the group then marks each time slot as "yes," "cannot attend," or "if need be." Once everyone in the group has responded, the visual chart makes it easy to see which times work for everyone. If the column is all green checks, you're good to go.
From there, it takes one click the Book it button to schedule the event and send a confirmation to everyone.
One thing to note: Doodle has recently started showing ads (including auto-play videos) to both free users and their invitees. If you're using the free plan, it's a super distracting and unprofessional experience.
Calendly, on the flip side, was originally designed for 1-to-1 meetings. The team is still beta testing the Meeting Poll feature to facilitate group scheduling and compete more directly with Doodle. The workflow to create a poll is even simpler and more intuitive than in Doodle, as is the interface for respondents. But there are two drawbacks to Calendly's group scheduling:
Respondents can only designate a time slot as yes or no—there's no maybe option like Doodle's "if need be."
The results in Calendly aren't as digestible as they are with Doodle. The app highlights top times, but it doesn't have the same visual impact as Doodle's colored chart.
That said, Calendly users can create a new Meeting Poll directly from the Gmail, Chrome, and Firefox extensions, making it super quick and easy to do. Plus, you have the option to temporarily hold all the time slots on your calendar until the chosen one is officially booked.
Again, Calendly is still beta testing this feature, so we'll continue to see how it develops and improves.
Each app's free plan reflects its core features—but Calendly's is more generous
At first glance, the free plans that Doodle and Calendly offer are pretty similar. Both limit free users to one booking page or event type and one calendar connection per user. The main difference reflects the core feature differences I've already covered:
Doodle's free plan is geared toward the Group Poll feature and doesn't include 1-to-1 scheduling (a feature not without its own issues with a clunky UI).
Calendly's free plan includes access to most individual-level features (now including unlimited Meeting Polls!), but doesn't include most of the team management and enterprise-level features.
Calendly's free plan just gives you more features, too, including data deletion, additional integrations, and native workflows.
Other differences are small. For example, Calendly's free plan technically allows you to create as many event types as you want, but you can only have one active at any given time (so you can toggle between which type is active as needed).
Both apps integrate with Zapier; Calendly has more native integrations
When it comes to syncing your calendar, you can't go wrong with Doodle or Calendly: both connect with the big three (Gmail, Outlook, and iCloud). These integrations are available on both free and paid plans.
Both tools also offer some native integrations. Doodle includes only a handful, while Calendly offers nearly 30 business-focused integrations (with tools like Slack, Salesforce, HubSpot, and payment processors), plus an API and Developer Portal revamped in 2022. Calendly also released a number of extensions and plugins for popular browsers and inboxes, which bring core functionality right into your existing workflow.
That said, whether you choose Calendly or Doodle, they both integrate with Zapier. The integration isn't available on either app's free plan, but paid users can use Zapier to connect with thousands of other apps. Currently, Doodle has 10 triggers set up with Zapier, enabling you to automate actions like posting new Doodle events in Slack, for example, or trigger a workflow in another app when a new Doodle event gets booked.
Calendly's Zapier integration has two triggers and all sorts of popular workflows you can use to automatically create Asana tasks from new Calendly events, for example, or create HubSpot CRM contacts from Calendly invitees.
Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.
Doodle vs. Calendly: Which should you use?
If you need a Doodle alternative, Calendly is a good bet—same goes the other way around. But if you haven't tried either app, here's the general rule for which to choose:
Calendly is best for business use and 1-to-1 scheduling.
Doodle may be better for group scheduling in a casual setting.
If you're just booking time between two people, you really can't go wrong with sharing a Calendly link—and the generous free plan makes Calendly a budget-friendly choice too. It's also going to make a way better impression on prospects and clients. But if your main use case is scheduling with a group, it really comes down to your preference. Give both a try, and see what works for you.
Calendly vs. Acuity: Which should you use?
6 hidden Calendly settings to make scheduling easier
How to send Slack notifications for new Calendly events
3 ways to streamline your appointment scheduling (with any booking app)
The article was originally published in January 2022. The most recent update was in January 2023.