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What is a Meeting Room Booking System?

team meeting, office employees
by
The Robin Team
Published on

Everyone dreads the classic double-booked meeting room situation. Conflicts over shared office spaces, like meeting rooms are downstream of a bigger problem: a lack of simple, usable systems to book and use meeting rooms.

In this article, we’ll explore what a meeting room booking system is, what problems it can solve, and what to look for in a solution. 

What is a Meeting Room Booking System?

The terms "meeting room booking system" and "meeting room booking software" are often used interchangeably, but they can have slight differences based on their contexts.

The term, “meeting room booking system,” is generally more encompassing, referring to an array of processes, policies, and tools (manual or digital) used to manage the reservation and use of meeting rooms. 

Today, these systems are almost always digital tools, but they might also include manual systems such as a physical reservation book or a whiteboard for smaller offices. These systems also include the guidelines and procedures surrounding how meeting rooms are booked, used, and managed.

A meeting room booking solution helps streamline the entire room reservation process for your teams.

What is Meeting Room Booking Software?

As you might expect, “meeting room booking software” is more specific. It refers to the platform or tool that allows you to view meeting room availability in real-time, manage reservations, integrate with calendars/email/productivity tools, and get meeting room analytics. 

Challenges of Meeting Room Management

Office managers and IT teams are often tasked with managing the overall meeting room system and calendar booking processes. In the absence of a robust meeting room booking system, these teams face several tricky challenges, such as:

Underutilization or Overutilization

Some rooms may be constantly booked while others remain unused, leading to inefficient use of space. Additionally, large meeting rooms might be booked for small gatherings, taking up resources that could be better utilized.

Meeting No-Shows

Employees may book rooms and then forget about their reservation or cancel their meeting without updating the booking. Since the available room appears to be booked to others, this leads to idle rooms when they could actually be available for use.

Technology Issues

A meeting room should be equipped with the necessary technology for presentations, video conferencing, hybrid meetings, etc. Technical issues like software updates, hardware malfunctions, or connectivity problems can disrupt meetings and require constant, urgent IT intervention.

The right technology makes it easier for people to locate where meeting rooms are in the office.

Visitor Management

When hosting external visitors for in person meetings, ensuring they have access to the right rooms at the right times, and providing them with necessary amenities can also be challenging. A room booking system that comes with visitor management capabilities can give your visitors the experience you want them to have. 

Access Control

For security reasons, controlling who has access to certain meeting rooms is crucial. Balancing accessibility for staff and maintaining security can be a difficult task. Additionally, some meeting or conference rooms may need to be manager-accessible only. Preventing non-manager employees from booking those rooms can be difficult without a good system. 

Policy Enforcement

Ensuring everyone follows the meeting room usage policies, such as booking procedures, cancellations, and duration of meetings, and others, can also pose a challenge. Oftentimes, policy noncompliance stems from employees simply not being aware of the rules. Training and reminders are a must. 

Benefits of a Meeting Room Booking System

Given what we know about the challenges of meeting room management, how can a robust meeting room booking system benefit an office? Here are three key benefits. 

Improved Productivity

Research from office furniture supplier Steelcase found that 40% of in-office employees waste up to 30 minutes a day looking for meeting space. That’s 10 hours per month wasted. 

A meeting room booking system provides clear rules and guidelines for meetings. It ensures meetings start and stop on time, prevents no-shows from leaving rooms sitting idle, and provides wayfinding so people can go straight to where their meetings are. 

Greater Cost Savings

Inefficient meeting room processes lead to employees spending more time communicating about changing meeting details. For larger meetings, this is a lot of employee time wasted. Atlassian found that companies spend an extra $1,800 per year for each employee due to excessive email communication. 

Since meeting room booking systems integrate with calendars and email systems, any changes to meetings—locations, time, invitees, etc.—will automatically be sent to all meeting participants. This cuts down on unnecessary communication and frustration when trying to figure out how things changed. 

Additionally, these systems help workplace leaders identify underutilized spaces so they can figure out how to improve utilization or repurpose the unused space for something more productive, resulting in better space management.

Better meeting room management not only improves employee experience, it can cut costs for your organization too.

Greater Visibility for Workplace Leaders

Meeting rooms are the centerpiece of efficient workplace collaboration. For workplace leaders that want to assess the progress of their hybrid work strategy in terms of better collaboration outcomes, it’s critical to understand how (and how much) employees use meeting rooms.

A meeting room booking system will provide analytics into meeting room usage so you can track meetings held over time. This will influence your space utilization strategy, as well as give insight into how well your overall RTO/hybrid strategy is progressing. 

Want to dive deeper? Check out our recent article on the seven biggest benefits of a meeting room system

Meeting Room Booking Policies: Best Practices for Meeting Room Management

No matter what software or systems you use for managing your meeting rooms, creating good meeting room policies around the tech will be what makes your initiative successful. Follow these tips to create better meeting room booking and usage policies.

  • Define your objectives. What do you want your policy to achieve? Improved utilization of meeting rooms? Reduced conflicts? Setting clear objectives will align your policies to valuable outcomes. 
  • Establish booking procedures. Create a standardized process that everyone must follow. That can be meeting room booking software, a shared calendar system, or a designated office manager. 
  • Specify room capacities and purposes. Define each meeting room’s purpose, based on size, equipment, and location. This will prevent misuse of resources, such as a conference room being used for 1-on-1 meetings
  • Set time parameters. Set limitations on how far in advance teams can book meeting rooms and how long a single meeting can last. Specify a minimum notice period for cancellations to prevent rooms from sitting empty.
  • Set permissions and priorities. If only managers can book conference rooms, set those permissions in your system before deploying it. Determine if certain teams or individuals will have priority booking for a certain space. 
  • Use the right tech. Equip rooms with the right technology for their intended use, such as video conferencing systems, projectors, speakers, whiteboards, meeting room screens etc. Regularly update and maintain the equipment. 

Beyond these, it’s critical to provide training upfront and occasional refreshers on policy. Keep things flexible in the event of special circumstances and commit to regular reviews and updates based on feedback and meeting room data. 

The Role of Conference Room Displays

Meeting room booking software has a physical counterpart: Conference room displays and wayfinding screens. 

Conference room displays are generally touchscreen-enabled devices placed outside of every meeting or conference room. They display the room’s availability, allow people to reserve the room or cancel a meeting right from the screen, and let people check into meetings. 

Conference room displays help teams locate and reserve the right rooms.

Displays reduce conflicts with room reservations by displaying who’s using the room and when. They also allow employees to manage meetings right from the display, rather than requiring them to open their laptops and change meeting details via a web app.

Digital conference room displays also give you the benefit of managing dozens of meeting rooms from a central location. Since the displays sync with a central management portal, you can get a real-time look at the status of each room, get alerts if employees report technical issues, and also dynamically update all displays from one place. 

Learn more about meeting room displays and signage with our complete guide. 

Finding the Right Meeting Room Booking Software

There are several options out there for meeting room booking software. In this section, we’ll provide a rubric you can use to evaluate different solutions. The more of these boxes your chosen solution checks off, the more likely it is you’ll have success with your meeting room booking initiative. 

Ease of Use

Adoption hinges on ease of use. The software should have a user-friendly interface that's easy to navigate and allows users to book a room with just a few clicks. This will reduce the learning curve and ensure that everyone can use the system effectively.

Real-Time Availability and Booking

The software should show real-time room availability to prevent double bookings, and it should allow users to reserve meeting rooms easily.

Integration with Other Systems

Verify that the software can integrate with other systems used in your organization, such as calendar systems (e.g., Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook), email clients, and communication apps like Zoom and Slack.

Make it easier for teams to coordinate meetings with better integrations.

Adjustable Permissions

Look for software that allows you to set different levels of access with adjustable permissions for individuals or specific roles. This can help you manage who can book certain rooms, ensuring that the most appropriate spaces are used for each meeting.

Hardware Quality

Be sure to verify that the durability and quality of the conference room displays is appropriate for the size of your team and the frequency of usage. The displays should be strong enough to withstand constant use over long periods of time so you aren’t paying for excessive replacement costs. 

Scalability

The software should be able to grow with your company. As you add more meeting rooms, additional services, or even more locations, the software should be able to handle this growth.

Mobile Access

It’s now common for people to do work from their smartphones. That’s why it’s helpful if the software has a mobile app that allows employees to check room availability and book a room from anywhere.

Reporting and Analytics

Software that includes reporting and workplace analytics can provide valuable insights into how your meeting rooms are being used, helping you make informed decisions about space planning and management.

Having insights into how your meeting rooms and wider workplace is being used makes for better space planning.

Customization

The ability to customize room descriptions, bookings, and features can be beneficial in aligning the software with your specific needs and processes. You should even be able to customize the branding and overall look and feel to match your company’s brand, making even your meeting rooms feel like a seamless part of the overall employee experience. 

Deploy Your Own Meeting Room Booking System 

If you’re ready to get a system that solves your hybrid office’s trickiest meeting room problems, Robin is ready to help. Our workplace experience solutions incorporate room scheduling, desk booking, visitor management, and workplace analytics into a single platform. Robin has helped thousands of companies build the best hybrid offices out there. 

Learn how you can get started today

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