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Calendar Sync via Email Invites

CoachAccountable calendar sync now has a big leg up for those clients who just can’t be bothered to actually set any of it up.

For a long time now, it’s been the case that both coaches and their clients can sync their calendar of choice (be it Google, Outlook, or Apple) with CoachAccountable.  This enables CA to automatically add whatever appointments get scheduled to the calendar of choice and, in the case of coaches, read their availability for the sake of avoiding double booking.

This is great for both parties, and, on account of the whole double-booking-avoidance thing, is especially a win for coaches.

But sometimes clients can’t be bothered.  For some it’s an extra step that they just don’t (or won’t) get around to.  For others it might be concerns over security, sometimes based on corporate IT policy or the like, that make full-on calendar sync a non-starter.

As an alternative to full-on calendar sync, CA has long supported the ability to subscribe to ICS calendar feeds.  But that too puts the impetus on clients to actually set it up.

Enter calendar invites via email

As a solution to the hurdle of clients needing to actually do something for your coaching appointments to appear in their calendar, CA now provides for a robust (yet totally passive) approach.  Clients can now receive calendar invites by email for all appointments you schedule with them, meaning those appointments will be automatically added to their calendar as those email notifications are received.

Likewise, calendar invites can also describe (and affect) changes to previously scheduled appointments, namely rescheduling and canceling.

Calendar Sync Options for Clients

The addition of email invite-based calendar sync means your clients now have three options to choose from.  Your clients will find these when logged in under My Account >> Calendar Sync:

By default, this is about what they’ll see: email notifications turned on, and 2 other approaches they can opt for as well.

Let’s consider closely the new settings clients have about the email notifications they receive:

Include calendar invites in appointment notification emails allows clients to opt into getting those calendar invite attachment files at all, receipt of which generally has the effect of automatically adding appointments to a related calendar.

In addition to notifications about newly scheduled appointments, these invites will be attached to notifications of rescheduling and canceling, meaning those calendar entries will be updated (and removed) as needed, too.

Email me a confirmation about appointments I schedule allows clients to opt into getting emails about things that they themselves just did.  If not for the calendar-syncing aspect, these emails are largely redundant: client schedules an appointment, they can see from the app UI that they did so, and then an email announces essentially “hey, you did the thing you just did”.

BUT this becomes really handy when that email contains an attachment that automatically adds the newly-scheduled appointment to their calendar.  In that case, it serves as far more than a recap of what just happened.

These confirmations of client activity extend also to rescheduling and canceling: each action will trigger a corresponding email confirmation, and if including calendar invites are opted for (that first check box), then the attached invites will also have the effect of updating (and removing) appointments from their calendar.

Note that these email notifications for calendar sync are enabled by default for all new clients.

What about your clients that have been around prior to this addition?  If they’ve setup for themselves a direct sync, these will be turned off (so it’s business usual for them).  For those who haven’t synced their calendar, this email notification-based sync has been enabled.

You as coach can see and set the Email Notification settings for your clients.  Find these in the Client Manager, under Settings >> Appointments:

The note about your client’s direct sync status is a handy hint.

From here you can see whether or not your client has already setup their calendar for a direct sync.  If they haven’t, it’s probably a good idea to have both of those check boxes checked.

When Notifications are Sent

If receiving calendar invites via email is the main mechanism for your client to keep their calendar in sync, it’s suddenly very important that they get an email notification for every appointment that gets scheduled (plus any and all rescheduling or canceling thereof).

Again, when client opts for the “Email me a confirmation about appointments I schedule” option, they’ll get suitable emails whenever they do the scheduling, rescheduling or canceling.  But what about when you as coach do those things?

When you schedule, you also has the option to send a notification to your client, like so:

The default, do send a notification and do so by email, is usually the right choice.

With notification emails now serving as a common way to get your appointments into your clients’ calendars, you’ll generally want to send the notification, and do so via email.  You retain the ability to deviate from that, just be aware that doing so can undermine that calendar syncing behavior.

The same applies for when you as coach reschedule or cancel an appointment with your client: you’ll have the option to notify your client of the change up via email, and for the same reasons doing so is highly recommended.

Appointments for Offerings

The same “auto add to calendar by email”-behavior applies now to any appointments scheduled by way of signing up for an Offering.

As always, with Offerings you can opt to have a Confirmation Email sent when someone successfully signs up for it:

Offering Confirmation Email

Generally a fine idea.

If you opt for this email to be sent, AND the Offering entails scheduling an Appointment, that email will automatically have a suitable calendar invite attached (thus automatically adding it to your new client’s calendar).

And if you DON’T have a Confirmation email set?  In this case, CA goes a little off script and sends a standard Appointment Notification email (with the calendar invite) instead.  The verbiage for this email is taken from your Appointment Notification email template, so it’ll still be on brand.

Also note that with the addition of email invites for Offerings, including the [appointmentAddToCalendarButtons] magic tag in the Confirmation Email is now far less important.

Many scheduling apps still have such buttons in emails that also have the calendar invite attachment, no doubt a sort of “make sure it gets in their calendar at all costs”-sort of shotgun approach.  So you too can include or exclude those add to calendar buttons consistent with your taste, sensibilities around clutter, and how much you do or don’t trust your clients to show up like responsible adults (in some contexts I appreciate full well that this can’t always be taken for granted!).

Email Invites for Group Appointments

Just like with one-on-one appointments, when you as coach schedule (or reschedule, or cancel) your Group Appointments, the notification emails that you can (and probably should!) opt to send will similarly comes with suitable calendar invite attachments, allowing all client members (who are included in that Group Appointment) to have that appointment automatically added to their calendars.

One caveat to this: the system will NOT email newly added group members that happen to be auto-added to future Group Appointments.  That could be a surprising gotcha, and generally speaking CA avoids sending emails to clients on your behalf without some form of your express intent to do so.

Email Invites for Appointment Series

As always, you as coach can schedule a series of Appointments with your clients or groups:

When you do so, the notification email body (that your clients will read) will contain details only about the first one.  BUT the email invite attachment will include information about the whole series, meaning each appointment in the series will get added to your client’s calendar.

Getting Caught Up or Re-syncing

Perhaps your client wants all their future appointments with you added to their calendar now.  At anytime they can visit their My Account >> Calendar Sync page, and if they have future appointments they’ll see an “Email me an invite…” button like this:

Just a click and CA will send it all.

Clicking that will cause CA to email them an attachment with a calendar invite file containing data for all of their future appointments, allowing them to quickly get those appointments into their calendar by this calendar invite mechanism.

You too, as coach, can have this email sent to your client.  For a client that has one or more future appointments, you’ll find the button to do so among their calendar sync settings (again, you’ll find this in the Client Manager, under Settings >> Appointments).

One gotcha to this: it can be fun to try deleting an appointment from your calendar and then sending this email to enjoy seeing it magically re-appear.  The problem with that is many email calendar systems will keep note of the fact that you specifically removed an appointment already, prompting it to NOT re-add it when it arrives again via email.  So delete appointments added in this fashion at your own risk: the calendar invite approach may not be able to restore it!

In Summary

The addition of these calendar invites via email is kinda a basic feature: it doesn’t make possible anything that wasn’t already, BUT from the “remove all the friction from your clients experience” angle it’s a wonderful boon to how things get done, especially at the get go.

Yes, the direct sync is more elegant and robust, allowing your client to skip the clutter of extra emails that might be largely redundant.  But this way your clients can have those appointments with you appearing in their calendar from day 1, with no effort on their part required.  And for those who want the elegance of direct sync later, they can do that as a separate step whenever they feel so inclined.

Overall it is my hope that the addition of these invites will make things run more smoothly at that most critical juncture: when you’re just getting started with a new client.  Enjoy!


  1. Patrick O'Reilly

    John, THANK YOU for adding this. It’s a huge improvement.

    December 8, 2021 @ 11:56 am

  2. John Larson

    Hi Patrick,

    You’re most welcome! I’m really glad to hear that’s a win for you and your company.

    December 13, 2021 @ 11:29 am

  3. Twila

    This is great! One question – if the client deletes an appointment from their calendar – does the coach get notified? They may think they are cancelling by doing that.
    Thanks again,

    January 17, 2022 @ 11:20 am

  4. John

    Great question! Unfortunately the answer is no: things that folks do in their own calendars are not known to CA, and thus won’t have any effects of either changing things in CA or letting CA notify the other party.

    January 18, 2022 @ 9:09 am

  5. John

    Ah! Allow me to amend that last answer: it turns out actually that some calendar clients WILL email the other party a notice that one party has declined to attend (or otherwise deleted) an appointment event from their calendar, thus allowing that other party to easily remove it from their calendar as well.

    Records in CA still remain unaffected by this exchange (this is truly email to email with no luxuries afforded by direct sync!), but coach will know that client has deleted an appointment from their calendar, and thus be able to update things in CA accordingly.

    Good stuff!

    January 18, 2022 @ 4:07 pm