Microsoft Bookings is a calendar and appointment application that seamlessly integrates with the Outlook calendar. It makes it easy for people to make an appointment with you via a simple web interface and add those appointments to your Outlook calendar. It is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite.
To get started login to your Office 365 portal at https://portal.office.com. Once logged in you can just search for Bookings or click the grid icon on the top left and then select Bookings.
Click on the blue “Create” button to create a Bookings calendar. You can create a page from scratch or use an existing page (that you have access to) as a template. When creating a page from scratch, the first step is to enter a business name, which should include your name or important descriptor. Do not make it something generic such as “appointments” or it may be difficult for others (and you) to find later. You can also enter in your general business hours, though those can be changed later.
In Step 2, you can invite other faculty or staff if this will be a shared calendar, and then Step 3 sets up a generic 30 minute appointment on the calendar. All of these settings can be customized later on. The final Step 4 is where you will set who can book appointments. For advising appointments for Trinity students, it is recommended to leave this as “people in my organization.”
After the Bookings page has been created, the customization options will be see on the left as shown below. The Business information button is where basic details can be entered, including your email address. You have the option to set your availability here under “Business hours,” or if you will only make your calendar available for certain days (for advising appointments for example), you can set custom dates and times later on that will override the information on this screen. Make sure to always click “Save” at the top when you are done.
Setting up Services (types of appointments)
The next step is to set up one or more services using the Services link in the left hand navigation menu. Think of this as an appointment slot. For example you may want to have a 1 hour slot for longer meetings and a 20 minute appointment slot for an advising appointment. When someone makes an appointment with you they can choose which service they are requesting. Since Bookings created a service by default, you can edit that one by clicking on it, or delete it and add a new one using the “Add new service” button on the top of the page.
When adding a service there are a number of options you will want to set by clicking on “Edit service.” This will pull up an editing box as shown below:
Options include the following:
- Basic details: This would include the name of the service, a description, time duration and a default location (such as an office number or a Zoom personal meeting room link).
- Availability options: As described in the section below, here is where you can set customized hours and dates for a specific service, such as advising prior to class registration. If you want to use the default scheduling policy that is set under the Booking page information, check the box on the left.
- Assign staff: Make sure to assign yourself to the service, plus different users can be assigned to different services if you are creating a shared calendar.
- Custom fields: You can add custom fields if you would like to request more information from the person booking the appointment. People will have to enter their name and email at a minimum but you may also want to ask about the purpose of the meeting request.
- Notifications: Here you can customize reminders and confirmations. You can set when emails will be sent to remind people of the appointment plus also customize the contents of the email. You may want to enter the location here but that isn’t necessary if you entered the location previously.
If you want this service (appointment) to be available whenever you are free within the hours shown in the Business Information section, you don’t have to change anything else here and can jump ahead to the Booking Page section to publish your schedule.
Limiting Dates of Availability (optional)
If you just want appointments to be available for a certain time period, during advising week for example, you will have to enter those details.
You can set specific dates/times at the service level or for all bookings. If you want your overall availability to be limited do this on the Booking page. If you want to set specific dates for specific services such as office hours vs advising appointments you can do it by editing the details for the specific Service.
For a specific service, click on Edit Service, and then choose “Availability options” as shown below. Make sure that “Default scheduling policy” is not checked. You can set the time increments shown on the calendar, the lead time for appointments (how far in advance someone must book an appointment) and the maximum lead time (how far in the future someone can book an appointment).
To set the specific dates and times you want to be available, change general availability from “Bookable when staff are free” to “Not Bookable.” (Note: do not do this if you want to be bookable whenever your calendar is open, only if you want to set certain dates and times).
Next click the link “Set different availability for a date range.” Choose the date or date range you want to set up and then choose “Custom hours (recurring weekly).” Even if you are only setting up one day or one week, choose this option. The dates and times that are initially displayed are taken from whatever was set up in the Business information section at the beginning. You can change this and set time ranges for each day to meet your needs.
In the example below, a two week date range is set from 10/16-10/27, and two time slots have been set for Monday and two for Tuesday within those two weeks. You can add and remove days and time slots to customize the availability however you want.
You can click the link “Set different availability for a date range” to add another date block as necessary. Be sure to click “Save changes” when done.
Booking page (publishing the scheduler)
The final step is to make your Bookings calendar available via the web. Click the button for the “Booking page” in the navigation menu on the left.
Options on this page include limiting appointments to people with a Trinity account, plus setting a default scheduling policy. If you do not customize your availability within a specific service as described in the section above, make sure to select the option to use the default scheduling policy, and then modify that here under the Booking page. You can also customize your page with colors and a logo, and set a default time zone.
Once you have worked through the options, click “Save” at the top of the page when you are done. The link that begins with “https://outlook.office365.com…” is what you can share with people, or post in Moodle, so students and co-workers can schedule an appointment with you. Bookings integrates with your Outlook calendar, so if an unexpected meeting crops up, that time will not show as ‘available’ in the calendar.
If you have any questions about using Bookings, or would like help in getting started, please contact your instructional designer.