Professionals spend an average of 50 percent of their week in meetings. When simply searching for a meeting room can take upwards of 30 minutes, that’s a lot of time that could be better used. Room booking software allows employees to plan their meetings in advance, knowing they have the space and equipment they need ready and waiting. Let’s take a look at how using a meeting room booking system can benefit your business — and how to choose the best one for you.
What is a meeting room booking system?
A meeting room booking system is an interactive software solution that allows users to view and reserve available rooms in the office. Users can make bookings using a computer, on the go from their smartphone, or even on smart display panels outside the meeting room itself. By allowing users to see availability at a glance, they can better plan their schedules based on when the space they need is available.
Users can then go back in and make amendments to their booking or release a room when they don’t need it anymore, all without having to set foot in the office. This helps businesses ensure they are effectively using their space and facilitates collaborative working among employees without the stress of finding a room.
Meeting room booking systems can help:
- Prevent double-booking — no more unclear, outdated booking systems that allow for double booking or don’t alert you when a room is no longer needed. Instead, meeting room booking systems show availability in real-time.
- Boost collaborative working among employees, especially when they are attending the office mainly to meet colleagues. The meeting organizer can ensure they book a room with all the facilities they need in advance.
- Reduce the cost of unused meeting rooms by improving utilization — reduce the cost and frustration of booked meeting rooms going unused. Facilities managers can rely on a meeting room booking system to release unused rooms, notify users watching spaces that they’re available again, and more to help improve workplace utilization.
- Make rooms available automatically. A good meeting room booking system reserves and releases rooms as soon as the meeting organizer makes or cancels a booking.
- Keep everyone informed about scheduling and meeting changes — send notifications and emails to everyone included in a room booking if times, dates, attendees, or rooms get changed last minute.
How to choose a meeting room booking system for your offices
Know what problems you want to solve
You can’t choose the best meeting room system for your needs if you don’t know what those needs are. So, the first step is determining what you want your meeting room system to be able to do and any current pain points you have that you’re looking to solve.
At this stage, it’s best to involve all key decision makers, including space planners, facilities managers, and senior management, to kick off the search. But don’t forget to survey employees about what’s working and what isn’t in your current system and any problems they regularly face. It’s also a good idea to take a look back through any recent employee complaints about meeting room struggles to see any commonly recurring issues.
Here are some questions to get you started narrowing down your needs:
- Are people not booking rooms in advance and scrambling to find space at the last minute?
- Do you want more data about how your meeting spaces are actually used?
- Do you want to eliminate double bookings or no-shows?
- Do you need digital signage for your meeting rooms?
Once you have an idea what problems your meeting room booking software needs to solve, make a list of your must-haves and anything you’d be willing to compromise on.
At this stage, it’s also important to determine your budget. If you fall in love with a system during a trial, but it’s more expensive than your company can afford, you’ll end up disappointed.
Do your research
There are lots of systems out there that could help transform your meeting processes. Now’s the time to do a deep dive into all the possible solutions available and match up their features and offerings with your must-have list.
Eliminate any that don’t meet your needs or can’t support a business of your size. Keep a “maybe” list for software that could work, but you’re not sure about. And for any super promising solutions, add them to the top of your list for the next step.
Trials and demos are your friend
When bringing in a new tool, it’s always important to try things out. Demos and trial periods are a great way to get a sense of how a meeting room booking system could work in your organization. Demos work best when the demonstrator knows the problems you’re looking to solve and the features you absolutely need, so be sure to share your list before any demonstrations.
If you like the look of a demo, move on to a trial period. Start small by having a few people test things out. Make sure this group of people are heavy meeting room users — they’ll be best placed to see how well each software addresses your requirements. Also, keep in mind how well you think the system will scale across your company. If you run into issues, bugs, or you don’t love the user experience, those issues will likely get magnified when you do a broader rollout.
Get to know the company behind the software
You’ll probably have a good idea of which system you like most now. Here it’s essential to dig a little deeper into the company offering the meeting room software you’re leaning towards.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- What kind of onboarding do they offer for new customers?
- Do they offer ongoing support?
- How long will it take to implement the new system?
- What are their payment terms, license fees, and implementation costs?
- Is there any wiggle room on pricing, especially at scale?
Once you’re satisfied that your chosen system will be well supported and meets your needs and budget, it’s time to make your final decision!
6 Top meeting room booking system features
Not sure which features you should look out for during your search? Here are a few of the most important:
Having all the tools you use in your business “talk to each other” makes them effective. Your booking software should be able to sync up with employee email and calendar programs.
Great integrations help meeting coordinators arrange times that best suit attendees and automatically send email notifications and calendar invites to each meeting attendee.
- Mobile App
With hybrid working, people often work on the go and rely on mobile versions of their work tools to communicate with colleagues and stay productive. A great meeting room booking system should be easy to use from a smartphone and shouldn’t give mobile users any less functionality than desktop users.
When choosing booking software, look for one that offers an accompanying Mobile App and the option of sending notifications to your device.
- Smart Room Displays
Smart display panels outside of each meeting room can help you maximize utilization.
They quickly update if no one “checks in” to say they’re using the room, releasing it for use by another employee or team. You can also use smart displays to make quick updates, like letting passersby know the meeting is running over or finishing early.
Also, let’s face it, they’re much more attractive than a paper list taped to the door.
The success of a meeting room booking system depends on knowing how people use it.
When choosing software for your business, you want it to simplify lots of data and give you useful insights about how employees use your meeting rooms.
This valuable data helps inform your space planning and readjust accordingly as you create flexible office space to suit the individual needs of you and your employees.
- Automatic Space Recovery
We all know how frustrating it can be when you need a meeting room and can’t find one while you can see rooms that are “booked” sitting empty.
A great meeting room booking system will release spaces if people don’t show up after a set amount of time. This automated approach to booking helps mitigate human error and can make your meetings and spaces more efficient.
- Attendance Management
Room booking software can help you with all the administrative and housekeeping tasks of planning meetings. This is especially important when arranging something that requires keeping track of attendance for large meetings.
The best meeting room booking systems will let you set capacity levels and time limits — no more overcrowded, late-running meetings.
You should also look for a system that sends notifications to attendees to remind them of upcoming meetings and can record any “maybe” or “declined” attendees.
Smartway2 by HubStar helps businesses and employees work better together
We couldn’t make a whole guide about choosing a meeting room booking system without throwing our own hats in the ring! At Smartway2, our meeting room booking software facilitates successful collaboration by helping employees schedule meetings quickly and easily from wherever they are. Our robust usage analytics and reporting makes it easy to see what’s working and what needs to change. And we integrate seamlessly with the tools your business already uses, making adoption and implementation simple and painless.
For more information on how Smartway2 can help you transform your meeting room bookings and processes, get in touch for a demo today.