Our marketing manager stopped by one day to discuss the upcoming town hall meeting. She really wanted to put a meeting invite on everyone’s calendar without them having to accept it. Sort of like a silent invitation to block the time on their calendars and present a reminder when the time came. She also wanted the ability to update it silently–to add the WebEx information at a later date. Then when she was ready to announce the meeting, she could just send a standard e-mail and the date and time would already be scheduled on everyone’s calendar.
I had never done this before, so I did some research. And sure enough, there is a Direct to Calendar feature in Exchange Online. Here is how I set it up. (Click the pictures to make them larger.)
With the Direct to Calendar feature in Exchange Online, administrators can configure mail flow rules (also known as transport rules) that allow designated users to add meetings to calendars.
The benefits of Direct to Calendar are:
- The event is automatically added to the recipient’s calendar without any action from them. If the user received the meeting invitation, it’s on their calendar.
- The sender doesn’t need to deal with Out of Office or other unwanted response messages that result from sending meeting invitations to a large number of recipients.
- No meeting-related messages are seen by attendees unless the meeting is cancelled.
Direct to Calendar requires two mail flow rules with specific conditions and actions.
- One mail flow rule turns regular meeting invitations into Direct to Calendar meeting invitations.
- One mail flow rule prevents Direct to Calendar meeting invitations from appearing in the Inbox of recipients.
- Select Apply this rule if > The sender > is this person. Select the shared mailbox that will send Direct to Calendar meeting invitations.
- In Do the following, select Modify the message properties > set a message header. Enter the following values:
- Back at Mail flow > rules, click New () again, and then select Create a new rule. Click More Options. Enter a name for the rule.
- Select Apply this rule if > The sender > is this personSelect the shared mailbox that will send Direct to Calendar meeting invitations.
- Do the following > Modify the message properties > set a message header Enter the following values:
- Set the message header X-MS-Exchange-Organization-CalendarBooking-TriageAction
- to the value MoveToDeletedItems
To verify that you have successfully configured Direct to Calendar meeting invitations, use the designated sender mailbox to send a test meeting invitation to a small number of recipients.
Verify that the meeting automatically appears in the calendars of the recipients, and verify there are no meeting-related messages in the Inbox (the second rule should automatically move these messages to the Deleted Items folder).