Something is wrong with your room booking process. Your employees are wasting time finding the right room, your kitchen ends up fulfilling orders for meetings that were canceled weeks ago, and most of your meeting rooms sit empty and unused.
On this page you’ll find everything you need to choose the room booking system that solves your problems and fits the needs of your organization, as well as a handy tool to calculate how much you could gain by implementing a more efficient booking system for your meeting rooms.
When you look at a new booking system for your meeting rooms, there’s a good chance every supplier will tell you that their system is the best one on the market. And they are probably all telling the truth in one way or another.
The challenge for you is to figure out which system is the best one for your organization. Because there’s a big difference between needing to manage a couple of meeting rooms, that are used by a few dozen employees, and then needing to handle dozens of meeting rooms, used by hundreds or thousands of employees.
The first question you should be able to answer is about the amount of meeting rooms you have. If you only have 2-3 rooms you could potentially get away with handling all your room booking in Outlook, but the more rooms or different types of rooms you have, the bigger and more complex of a solution you’ll need.
Just like the amount of rooms you are managing will affect your solution needs, a high booking frequency and meeting turnover will too.
Does meetings in your organization include specialty equipment like projectors, smart screens or translation services?
If they do, consider whether you can add that information to the room booking flow, as this will decrease friction during booking.
Creating the foundation for a good meeting isn’t over with the room and the participants. And especially for larger organizations there’s a need for booking add-on services like catering or cleaning services. If that is something you need, it might be a good idea to look into a booking system for your meeting rooms that can handle add-on bookings, notifications and billing too.
After you’ve outlined what your needs are, you need to figure out what your budget for a new solution is. Hopefully your needs match your budget, but you need to remember that the cost of a solution isn’t just what’s listed on your supplier’s pricing page.
You need to look out for hidden costs related to implementation, not just in terms of billable hours from your solution provider, but also in terms of training your employees to use the new booking system.
On the other hand, not upgrading your booking system for meeting rooms might also contain hidden costs in terms of productivity loss.
When you start to consider upfront costs vs. long-term value, scalability, pricing models and hidden costs related to both changing and not changing. The matter can quickly become a little complex, which makes arguing for an increased budget if you need it all the harder.
To help you show the potential gains related to upgrading your booking system for meeting rooms we’ve created a calculator which lets you compare the productivity gains related to our system with the pricing of the system itself.
While some features, like catering, billing and compatibility with multi-company setups are features that are very specific to the organizations, there are a couple of things you should look for no matter what your organization looks like.
This might be self explanatory, but the easier a software is to use, the lower the adoption cost will be and the bigger the chance of the system seeing use is.
If booking a meeting room is too complex, or requires employees to change between three systems and send out two emails manually, to make sure they have a room, register visitors with the reception and order catering, there’s a good chance they will abandon the process.
What you need from your booking system for meeting rooms will be very dependent on the employees who use it. What most companies need, though, is a high overall customizability.
For instance, a law firm would likely need a way to set up booking options so certain rooms, equipment or catering items are only available to certain employees, whereas a marketing agency might have a bigger need for the ability to easily add custom resources to the booking flow.
Whatever your case is, a little customizability goes a long way.
Systems bloat can be a real threat to the productivity of any company, which is why it might be worth it to look into how well a system integrates with the calendar system you use in your organization.
If you can make your entire room booking flow work directly from the Outlook calendar appointment, for instance, you won’t need to spend as much time teaching employees how to use the new system, as it will just be an extension of the system they already use.
One of the big issues with simpler booking systems for meeting rooms is that they don’t always reflect the real time availability of your rooms.
This is most often the result of spontaneous bookings, where two employees need a short meeting and instead of booking through the system they simply open the door to a meeting room and walk in.
While this does present a small problem, it is easily solvable either by integrating the system with booking displays that allow employees to book the room through a tablet on the wall next to the door, or by integrating with occupancy sensors. Both of which can update the room status in your booking system, making sure users get an accurate overview of room availability.
While analytics modules might not be the first thing you think of when you think of booking systems, making sure that you get access to accurate booking data can make a pretty big difference in the long run, especially when you need to consider expanding or reducing your office size.
Providers are often quick to sing the praises of their products, but the best way to get a feel for a product (aside from actually using it), is to listen to what other users and customers say about it.
How did the product help them? How did the product affect their work and their budgets?
Solution providers are often able to give you contact references, but you will likely get more accurate information by looking at video interviews with users or by looking them up on review sites.
After considering what your needs are as an organization and what your budget is, you need to find out if the solution you are looking at lives up to your requirements:
Is it within your budget?
Is it customizable enough to meet your needs?
Does it integrate with your other systems?
Does it provide you with usage data, so you can monitor if the investment was worthwhile?
While you can answer some of those questions beforehand, it’s impossible to know for sure if a solution is the right one for you before you hand it over to your users. And at that point it’s important to remember that dragging out a decision might actually increase the overall cost, especially if you are currently using a solution that doesn’t meet your needs.
Facility managers are perfectly positioned to impact the profitability of an organization