Using overlapping appointments and double booking in Acuity Scheduling

Having more than one appointment at the same time is called double booking. Acuity prevents double booking by default, but you can choose to allow it with the appointments per time slot scheduling limit. 

Use the appointments per time slot scheduling limit to decide how many appointments can happen at any one time. Overlapping appointments can start at the same time, and clients can book appointments that start during an existing appointment.

Tip: Even if you have overlapping appointments turned on, Acuity won’t let clients book appointments for times that you offer a group class. If you have multiple calendars, clients can book on other calendars at those times.

Enable overlapping appointments

How you find this setting depends on how your availability is set up.

  • If you have one calendar and don’t have availability by appointment type enabled, you have one overlapping appointments setting for all of Acuity. 
  • If you have two or more calendars, you have an overlapping appointments setting for each calendar. 
  • If you have availability by appointment type enabled, you have an overlapping appointments setting for each appointment type group.

To edit the overlapping appointments setting:

  1. In Acuity, click Availability.
  2. Click Edit availability/limits for one of your calendars or one of your appointment-type groups. If there's no Edit availability/limits button, go to the next step.
  3. Click Calendar scheduling limits.
  4. Enter a new value in the Appointments per time slot section.
  5. Click Save limits.

Availability by appointment type affects overlapping appointments

If you enable both availability by appointment type and overlapping appointments, after one appointment is booked into a time slot, clients can only book overlapping appointments from the same appointment type group.

For example, suppose you can handle two appointments at a time, offer hot stone massage from 8 AM to 5 PM Monday to Friday, and offer reiki massage only from 2 PM to 5 PM on Thursdays. If you use availability by appointment type to make reiki massage available only from 2 PM to 5 PM on Thursdays, after a client books a reiki massage at 2 PM on Thursday, Acuity will only allow another reiki massage appointment to be booked at the same time.

Avoid partially overlapping appointments

Limit yourself to completely overlapping appointments by setting specific start time intervals or by listing only specific start times in your availability. This avoids staggered start times between appointments. 

Force partially overlapping appointments

To enable appointments that only partially overlap, use negative padding. This can be helpful if you need to get a client set up when they arrive, but don’t need to supervise them the entire time. Negative padding can be different for different appointment types.

For example, if you've assigned -20 minutes of padding after an appointment, clients can schedule an appointment that begins 20 minutes before the preceding appointment ends. So, if the first appointment runs from 9am to 10am, the second appointment could begin at 9:40am.

To enable negative padding:

  1. In Acuity, click Appointment types.
  2. Click Edit for the appointment type you want to give negative padding, then click Block off extra time before or after...
  3. Enter a negative value in the field for padding before or after an appointment, then click Update appointment type.
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