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Meeting Room Booking Systems

Meeting Room Booking Systems are essential in office environment and for event planners, helping allocate space and resources for upcoming events and meetings.

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Meeting Room Booking Systems Buyers Guide

As the name suggests, a meeting room booking system is a tool that allows for the simple reserving of conference rooms and similar spaces or resources within a shared workplace, such as an office. The software ensures that things like double bookings do not occur since all bookings will be run through a single centralised system preventing miscommunications. It also allows administrators to keep and have access to an accurate and up-to-date record of how those company resources are being used.

The features a buyer can expect to find in this software include the ability to log the resources—including spaces and equipment—at the organisation’s disposal. It should also allow users to book those resources subject to established criteria, such as availability and permission, and provide the functionality to automatically approve or deny any booking requests when appropriate. For example, automatically denying a booking request for a specific room if that room is already booked for that time slot. Meeting room booking systems will typically provide automatic reminder functionality, too.

Probably the biggest single advantage of this type of software is the improved efficiency of resource management within an organisation. Employees with sufficient authority can book meeting rooms and other resources without going through another party. Furthermore, miscommunications are eliminated by the centralised system. Overall, this reduces the day-to-day costs an organisation has to deal with. It also makes it easier to quickly get a detailed overview of resource usage.

This type of software is narrowly focused on using resources such as meeting rooms. This is in contrast to similar categories of software, such as appointment scheduling software, which focuses on appointments, and task management software designed to make booking tasks easier. This type of software can also come in both locally-deployed on-premises software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where the software is provided and hosted by a service provider.

There are several things for an organisation looking to purchase meeting room booking software to consider, not least of which are the features that a given software solution provides. The features included can vary significantly from one solution to another, but will often have the same core elements. Generally speaking, for a solution to be included in the meeting room booking system category, it will include most or all of the following features:

  • The ability to book through the system or online. Therefore, removing the need for bookings to go through an employee or department
  • Support for multiple locations is an essential feature for larger businesses where resources may be spread across several locations, and the software will need to be able to distinguish between those locations to determine what is available
  • Allow for the booking of internal meetings as well events and other booking situations
  • Support for digital signage features, allowing rooms to be tailored to the event in question quickly and easily
  • Provide the ability to create comprehensive utilisation reports so an organisation can see what is happening and what resources are used

What is Meeting Room Booking Systems Software?

Meeting room booking systems software makes booking rooms much easier and less prone to errors and other complications. These systems are built to remove some human elements from the booking process. This allows customers and internal bookings to be processed automatically through the software, which can also refuse a booking if it fails any critical criteria, such as the desired room or equipment not being available on the requested day.

Booking systems like this also allow organisations to maximise the utilisation of their resources since a range of details about a given room—such as occupancy limitations—are factored in. This can allow a booking to be moved to a more appropriate room if, for example, the attendance of a given meeting or event ends up being much lower than the capacity of the room. It also allows externally organised events to be booked by the organiser online, removing the need for employees to handle those bookings.

Businesses that benefit the most from this type of software tend to regularly rent out rooms and other types of venues to external parties. The type of event is not necessarily important—though some event organisers may wish to find more specialist software. Whether booking out meeting rooms for seminars and training programs or recreational facilities for sporting events, meeting room booking system software should be able to accommodate it. This type of software should also provide an overview of the available conference rooms (or whichever rooms are available), as well as any scheduled meeting times and other relevant details.

What are the benefits of meeting room booking systems software?

The benefits of meeting room booking systems primarily focus on booking out rooms and related resources as simple and error-free as possible. The main way to achieve this is through automation of tasks and centralisation of data, reducing the work involved in booking out rooms and removing the likelihood of mistakes being made. Some of the more specific advantages of meeting room booking systems include:

  • Avoid booking mistakes through centralised data: Having multiple people taking bookings in a traditional system that involves physical booking sheets or spreadsheets is prone to mistakes. This type of software avoids this by having the booking information centralised. This way, whether a booking is being handled by an employee or by an external organiser directly, the system can ensure that the booking does not conflict with other bookings.
  • Reduce work involved in booking out rooms: Those traditional methods of handling booking rooms also involved having someone—or a team of people—responsible for handling the bookings. Using this type of software, the vast majority of bookings—whether internal or external bookings—can be handled entirely by the software, reducing the cost of offering this service.
  • Get quick and clear overviews of rooms and bookings: A beneficial feature of this software is the ability to get a clear overview of the available rooms, the current bookings, and any other relevant information. These reports can be attained with a single click, making it much easier to gather the necessary data to make decisions on things like expanding capacity.
  • A better experience for customers: While software can be used for internal bookings, it is often used by companies that rent out meeting rooms and other types. Booking rooms through an online portal available around the clock and giving immediate approval (or denial) offers a much better customer experience for those external bookings.
  • Maximise the utilisation of space: Rooms are not always booked in the most efficient manner possible. With this software, an organisation can get the most out of the available space by monitoring bookings and attendance. In some cases, moving a meeting to a smaller room due to a lower than expected attendance, freeing up the larger room for a more suitable booking is recommended.
  • Automate basic booking checks: Many of the checks that need to be performed when making a new room booking can be carried out automatically by the software. Things like whether the room is available or if there is a room with sufficient capacity. This means that, in the majority of cases, a booking request can be handled automatically at that moment, rather than waiting for confirmation from a human.
  • Digital signage management: Another useful and time-saving feature of meeting room booking systems is integration with digital signage. This can be used to provide a clear indication of whether a room is currently occupied, show the current meeting or event that is taking place (making it easier for attendees to find) or even display information in the room itself.

What are the features of meeting room booking systems software?

The features of meeting room booking systems tend to consist of a core set and a commonly available set. Core features should be found in almost all meeting room booking system solutions, whereas common features will appear in many solutions but not all. The complete feature set of a solution can vary substantially from one to another. Here are some of the most common features of meeting room booking systems software solutions:

  • Automated booking approval: Many checks that need to be run when determining if a new room booking can be granted are checks that can be done automatically. For example, checking if a room of the right specifications is available. Or checking if a specific room that was requested is available. This software can perform those checks automatically, allowing the software to approve or refuse a booking request instantly.
  • Centralised data storage: Having the information for room bookings stored in a centralised single point of authority system ensures that things like double-bookings are practically eliminated. As long as the software is for all booking-related actions, it should be impossible to double-book any resources.
  • Online booking portal: Whether a company is offering meeting room facilities to the public or just to internal staff, an online booking portal makes the process much more professional, efficient, and accurate. Event organisers can see what they are booking, get immediate feedback in most cases, and receive an automated confirmation when the booking has been successful.
  • Digital signage integration: Digital signage is another innovation that saves time and money for businesses with many rooms with shifting purposes. One of the most common uses for digital signage is to have a sign above the door that can display the current meeting, making it easier for attendees—some of whom may not be familiar with the larger building—to find the room they are looking for. Software of this type can often integrate with that digital signage, allowing some degree of automation regarding what the signs are showing. For example, automatically changing the meeting name above the door when the next meeting’s time slot has begun.
  • Quick reporting tools: A critical aspect of this type of software is the ability to create detailed reports from the wealth of data that is collected. These reports can be created easily through the software and allow an organisation to make informed decisions about potential changes, such as office layout and design.
  • Desk booking capabilities: Office work is becoming an increasingly flexible environment. As such, things like hot desking are used more and more. Because of this, many meeting room booking system solutions will include the ability to book desks and rooms.
  • Check-in functionality: Keeping track of attendees is a vital aspect of offering meeting rooms for booking. Many software solutions will not only facilitate attendee tracking but will also support touchless methods, such as the ability to directly update the system via scanning QR codes. This method can also keep track of resources, such as by affixing QR codes to bookable resources that can then be scanned in and out.
  • Equipment booking: Following on from that last feature, the ability to track and book out equipment and other resources is another feature that should be available in many meeting room booking solutions. This works in essentially the same way as room bookings.

What should be considered when purchasing meeting room booking systems software?

When purchasing meeting room booking systems software, it is critical to consider a variety of factors and to remember that not all meeting room booking systems are equally created. There are also differences in software deployment to consider, such as locally deployed software that is installed and run from local hardware or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which is hosted by a remote service provider and accessed via the web. Finding the right software solution will largely depend on the size of the business, any concrete future goal, and the features required. Below there are listed some of the more specific considerations that an organisation should consider before settling on a particular software solution:

  • What are the key features of the solution? The main factor when considering a software solution should be whether that software solution has the features the buyer needs. A business that wishes to track equipment through its meeting room booking system will need to ensure that feature is supported in the software they choose. Similarly, a business that doesn’t need that feature may want to consider an alternative that doesn’t offer it for cost reasons.
  • What is the cost of the system? The cost of the software solution will naturally be an important consideration, though the biggest aspect of this consideration is becoming less of a concern. Traditionally, the software would be purchased as a one-off license and deployed locally to a business’s servers. The popularity and effectiveness of software as a service have made this mode of software deployment considerably less popular—though not completely obsolete. SaaS solutions take much of the cost and maintenance of the customer's plate and tend to be a better product overall. Locally deployed solutions give the business complete control over their software.
  • Will the solution will improve the organisation? A big factor to consider—and one that often gets overlooked—is whether the proposed software solution will improve the business as a whole. It is worth weighing up the advantages of the software against any disadvantages, such as the cost of migrating data and training staff. For companies moving from old booking systems, it is likely to be worth the investment, but for companies already running a cloud-native booking system, it may not be.
  • Is the solution suitable for the size of the business? Up to a point, the size of an organisation is not important to booking software. Beyond that point, it is critical to ensure that the software can handle the needs of the business. For example, a business with multiple locations will need a software solution that can factor in those locations. Otherwise, there may be situations such as equipment being booked out for a meeting on the other side of the country.
  • How does the solution handle customer data? The way customer data is handled is a very contentious issue in this day and age, and one that comes with a lot of regulatory obligations. When dealing with software-as-a-service, it is usually safe to assume that data storage will be safe and meet legal requirements (though research should always be done). When dealing with locally deployed software, the integrity of that data will be the sole responsibility of the business, so it’s important to make sure it is being handled properly.
  • Is the solution compatible with other software? Sometimes, a meeting room booking system must interface with other software, such as event planning software or inventory management software. If a business needs to make this kind of connection, it will need to ensure the potential software solution is compatible with whatever software is already in use.
  • Is the user interface friendly? For companies that provide meeting room booking to external parties, it is necessary to ensure the user interface those external parties will be using is visually appealing and easy to use. This will essentially be the store-front for this service, and a difficult user interface may put customers off.

Meeting room booking system software will likely be subject to the impact of many trends going forward, mainly because of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to the way people work. Some of the most relevant trends within this field include:

  • More focus on flexible working: It has already been mentioned above that meeting room software can sometimes include the ability to handle desk bookings. This is a trend that is likely to continue. As many businesses see the advantages of allowing their employees to work remotely, practices such as hot-desking are likely to become more common. As a result, more emphasis on those practices is likely to feature in meeting room booking software.
  • An increase in demand for meeting rooms: In addition to the remote working mentioned above, many smaller businesses are learning to be smarter with their money and, in doing so, concluding that it’s not always necessary to rent offices to do business. Despite this, it is still occasionally necessary to gather everyone into one room to talk about important matters. Because of this, there is likely to be an increase in the demand for meeting rooms.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) integration: Meeting room booking systems are already taking advantage of things like QR codes, and this is a trend that is likely to continue in the future. It allows businesses to accurately track their equipment and attendee numbers and, in a post-COVID world, reduces the need for visitors to physically touch things.