In this article we'll show you how to use a single email calendar to manage bookings across multiple Appointlet 'members' -- this can be used for centralizing your staff's meetings in a single calendar. Or it can be used to manage non-human resources like equipment rental, access to a space, seats in a computer lab, or curbside pickup/dropoff locations.
At a high level, you can use a single calendar in the following way:
Choose an email account that will act as your anchor
Set up sub-calendars for each of the staff or resources you want to manage
Invite the email account into Appointlet several times, using email aliases for each of the staff members / resources
Accept each of those invites from the email account to activate them
Once the invitation process is complete, your staff / resources will be registered in the Appointlet organization. Any bookings that these members receive will be placed into your integrated email sub-calendar of choice.
Step One: Choosing a dedicated email account
Our system was built around the idea of humans meeting with humans. So whenever a member is added to an Appointlet organization, they are invited via email.
Now when it comes to resource scheduling, your "attendees" are reserving access to a thing instead of scheduling a meeting with a person. Resources don't typically have their own dedicated email address, but sometimes they do. Let's take a look at both scenarios so you can decide which fits your use case.
If your resources do have their own email address, you can skip this step. Companies sometimes establish dedicated emails for major resources like rooms in their building. The email administrator may have set them up as email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. If you have dedicated email addresses for each resource, then you will not need to choose a single dedicated email account.
On the other hand, if your resources do not have a dedicated email then you will need to choose one that your Appointlet admin can easily control. For example, a library with a collection of computers probably does not have a unique email address devoted to each station. To manage all of these, we would recommend the librarian choose an email that all of the computer stations can be anchored to.
If you are using a single email to invite all of your resources into Appointlet, you will do so through an alias technique. This is explained in Step Two of this article.
Setting up a dedicated subcalendar for each resource
If you decide to use a single, dedicated email calendar for all of your resources, then it will be important to create a sub-calendar for each one. This will ensure that a booking with one resource does not block availability for the others.
Creating sub-calendars in Google Calendar
For Google Calendar, open your calendar and navigate to the Other Calendars section on the left navigation menu and click the plus sign. Select the Create new calendar option and give the calendar a name based on the resource.
Let's take a concrete example. A computer lab that's renting out a set of computers would create one Google sub-calendar for each computer seat. So the name of the resources would be something like Computer 1, Computer 2, etc.
Repeat this process for as many resources as you plan to support. When you're done you can move forward.
Creating sub-calendars in Office 365
If you're using Office 365 to generate sub-calendars for your resources, start by selecting Add calendar in the left navigation menu.
Select Create blank calendar in the left navigation menu and then type in your resource name. If you were scheduling computers in a computer lab, then each sub-calendar would be named accordingly. So in this case, we might have Computer 1, Computer 2, and so forth. Save after each blank calendar has been created and when all of your sub-calendars are generated, you're ready to move forward.
Step Two: Inviting your resources into Appointlet
To get started inviting your resources into the app, click on your admin name in the upper right corner and select the Members option:
Next you will click the green button to add members to your organization:
If your resources each have their own dedicated email addresses, then you will simply invite them using those emails as shown below. If not, keep reading for the email alias workaround.
If you will be using a single, dedicated email address to invite all of your resources into Appointlet then you will need to use aliases. If you're not already familiar with the concept of an alias, it works by adding a "+" symbol before the "@" symbol, followed by some set of characters.
So for example if my dedicated email address is "email@example.com" and I want to invite a few aliases to the organization to cover the different resources, it would look like this:
Keep in mind that you can add any text between the + and @ symbols. It's okay that "firstname.lastname@example.org" does not actually exist. The alias notation is a workaround is supported by all email providers and is designed to help you set up multiple accounts using a single email as an anchor. Pretty cool!
When you're ready, hit the blue Invite Members button to continue.
Step Three: Accepting the invitations for each resource
Once your invitations are submitted, those invited email addresses will show up in the Invited tab as shown above. To activate them, you will need to follow these instructions:
Navigate to the invited email account
Open the invitation email
If you invited multiple aliases, then your email service provider will usually consolidate them into a single email chain.
The email title will say You're Invited to Appointlet. Here's what that consolidated email chain looks like in Gmail when a set of aliases are invited:
Now, for the final (and most redundant) part of this process. Click on the blue accept invitation button in the email. This will take you to an Appointlet sign up page, where you can register the name of the resource. We currently require a first and last name field, so you will need to enter some text into each field. The email field will be automatically populated with the correct alias as shown below:
When this Sign Up phase is complete, you'll need to connect an email calendar for that resource. This is how our system guards against double bookings.
Connecting an email calendar for each resource
Click on your resource name in the upper right corner of the app and select Calendars from the dropdown menu.
Connect your Google or Office 365 calendar, depending on which one you used to set up your resource sub-calendars (as described previously in Step 1 of this article).
Below the calendar connection area, you'll find a Settings section. This is where you will configure the new subcalendar you've created within your calendar account. In the upper area, click the Change button to expand a list of calendars associated with your Google or Office 365 account. Select the one you'd like Appointlet to write calendar events to. In this case, we've selected our new "Computer 1" calendar. Any bookings made through Appointlet will now be added to this calendar.
In the lower area, select the Change button to choose which calendars are checked for availability. We're selected only the new "Computer 1" calendar here. This means Appointlet will only check this calendar for busy events and will display your availability based on the free time in this calendar.
You will find an identical interface for Office 365 calendars as the one shown above.
Configuring your meeting types for each resource
Once your resources have been successfully invited and the calendars are set up for each of them, you'll just need to configure your meeting types accordingly.
Generally speaking, a single resource tends to be scheduled by a single person. So you will most likely want to create one-to-one meeting types (not group) that are configured for Single Member or Pooled Availability. Don't let the word member confuse you here - the word member simply refers to your resource.
You would use the pooled availability option if you want the first available resource to be assigned and if there are no special conditions that differ from one resource to the next. If on the other hand you have special instructions for each resource type, the "single member" option will be your best bet.
For more information on how to assign hosts to the appropriate meeting type, please see this article.