Spabooker now has Google Calendar sync — or does it?

spabooker and google calendarIt look them forever — approximately 3 years — to listen to user requests to create some kind of friendly, automatic Google Calendar sync.

The first request was  made by Florida Rolfer Ari Globerman back in December of 2009. Spabooker finally started a Google Calendar sync in August of 2012….but how good is it? The feature was released with much fanfare as part of their version 8.3 release.

 A collective sigh of relief went out over the internet. In the first few days, though, the shortcomings became very clear and remain very clear.

Here are the three major issues that make Spabooker’s Google Calendar Sync a total joke.

1) It’s not a full two-way sync. Spabooker lets you “subscribe” to your Spabooker calendar. That means anything you do on Spabooker goes to a calendar that Google Calendar can then read and display.

From Google Calendar, you CANNOT make any changes to your schedule at all. If you want to block time on your schedule for a networking meeting or just some much-deserved time off, you need to login to Spabooker.

This is a one-way sync, and since logging into Spabooker adds so much time (given their slightly slow and clunky interface) to simple scheduling tasks, this can get old really fast.

As if that’s not bad enough, the sync is not instantaneous. How long does it take for changes to show up in Google Calendar? It varies. It could be minutes; it could be hours. This is not entirely Spabooker’s fault as several other online booking companies over the last 3 years have had problems figuring out how to get the Google Calendar sync to be instantaneous.

However, Full Slate and BookFresh solved this problem two years ago when users were begging for a fix. It’s clear that there’s a solution to the problem, but Spabooker didn’t do their homework and doesn’t even acknowledge it as a problem.

2) You only see the current week. You read that right. The one-way sync they have built in ONLY SYNCS THE CURRENT WEEK. I have no clue how anyone in their development team thought this was a good idea.

Anybody running any kind of massage or bodywork business will want to be able to look ahead in their calendar to see what’s coming in the week and month ahead. Also, you may want to look backwards in time to see when the last time was a client was in.

If you rely on Spabooker’s sync, you’ll be able to whip out your smartphone calendar, scroll back a week or two and see — absolutely nothing. If you want to see the past or future, Spabooker still forces you to log in to their clunky calendar.

3) Names don’t appear in the calendar.

Let’s say you’re at home having just finished dinner. You want to see who’s coming in tomorrow. You open up your Spabooker-synced Google Calendar and see a full day. Glorious! Except you only see service names.

You click on the little rectangle and — voila! — you only see the description of the service. You have no clue who you’re actually seeing. Want that information? You are forced to log in to Spabooker again.

If you’re a Rolfer or bodyworker looking for a straightforward system that actually has a functioning, useful Google Calendar sync, I’d still strongly recommend checking out Full Slate.

If you’re an ABMP member, you still get a hefty discount off their normal rates. If you aren’t an ABMP member, you can get a discount if you click this link.

If you appreciate the time I put into this review and do choose to use Full Slate, please feel free to let the Full Slate team know that Matt at websites4rolfers sent you!

4 Responses

  1. Matt,

    Thank you for your feedback. Some of you suggestions we will certainly take into consideration for future releases. I would like to point out one key difference between SpaBooker and simple scheduling systems like Full Slate and Bookfresh, and that is that our target market tends to be larger Spas and Salons that specifically requested that the Calendar Synch be limited in functionality.

    One of the reasons the synch is limited is due to businesses not wanting their staff to see complete customer details. Additionally, the reason the synch is not 2 way, is that in many cases, businesses limit the permissions of their staff and actually do not allow them to make reservations.

    Finally, we do have a mobile app that not only enables scheduling and access to your customer list, but also enables payment on the device, so that you do not need to log into the full SpaBooker system except for when its convenient.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can provide any additional information.

    Best regards,

    Daniel Lizio-Katzen
    daniel (a)

  2. Matt

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your personal reply. I think the difference you point out is crucial, and all the reasons for setting up synch the way you did makes sense from the perspective of larger spas and salons. For smaller operations, the way synch is set up is unfortunately not very convenient at all, and that’s why — despite spabooker’s great bookkeeping and POS features — I think Full Slate’s often a better choice for Rolfers.

    It’s great you guys are trying to make things a little more mobile friendly. I’ve played with the mobile scheduling in the past, but the slowness of the interface made flipping through my schedule and setting things up take too long. That could be a problem with my phone as well.

    Thanks for listening. It’s always nice to know that a company is paying attention to feedback!

  3. As if every company is supposed to revamp their software every time someone makes a suggestion.

    Seems a little dumb to expect every company to make a change each time a single person makes a request. Takes lots of money to change things.

  4. Matt

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’ve had many, many colleagues complain about the lack of synch over the years, and you’ll find threads about it in the Spabooker support forums as well — as Daniel notes, mostly from smaller operations. From Daniel’s response, it doesn’t seem like a synch that’s friendly for a smaller operation is in the cards (for good reason for their larger target clients). The posts on this site are primarily geared toward smaller one and two person operations, for which a true GCal sync can be VERY important. For those operations, the current synch method just doesn’t really cut it, and that should be made clear from the outset. Does that mean I don’t like Spabooker at all? No. As I’ve posted elsewhere on this site, I still use Spabooker for other reasons for my practice. It’s just not a great fit for solopreneurs who want full GCal functionality.

    As for the sense of frustration that the synch took 3 years to implement (which you are suggesting makes me dumb), I actually do understand that software development is an incredible pain in the butt and that dealing with a massive customer base makes it even harder for them to manage changes. However, having actually witnessed several online booking companies implement good Google Calendar synchs in very short time periods (we’re talking months) in direct response to customer requests while Spabooker offered no information about the long-promised feature, the wait seemed quite absurd. With a company with as much funding and as big a dedicated development team as Spabooker has, 3 years to develop a much clamored for synch was an incredibly long and frustrating wait. For many of the smaller operations unfortunately it turned out to not be worth the wait.

    Best of luck at BodyBio.

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