meeting room app
10 min read

Help or hindrance? The case for meeting room booking etiquette

Consider the following scenario…

Say I feel like having my team meeting in the atrium. But I haven’t considered the fact that it’s a premium space in the building for major events.

A few colleagues from hospitality interrupt us half way through our meeting. They’re a little exasperated that we’re in their way, explaining that they need to set up catering for the CEO’s presentation in an hour’s time. Apparently we shouldn’t be here without approval.

‘Who can give us approval?’ we ask. They shrug, ‘Sorry, we have no idea’.

We move on, pacing through the office in search of a free room that can accommodate the whole team. By the time we find one, we’ve wasted a quarter of our meeting time.

Not only that, but half an hour in, we’re kicked out again by another team who booked the room in advance. So we give up and hope next week’s meeting runs more smoothly.

Seems familiar? You’re not alone…

Meeting room rules are good, not evil

Let’s face it – rules, whether we like it or not, are all around us and for good reason. Just imagine what would happen if we didn’t all drive on the same side of the road or if nobody paid their taxes.

Meeting Room Booking Rules can play a significant role in helping your office run smoothly and creating a harmonious working environment. The scenario we described above could be easily avoided by implementing some basic rules.

The key word here is ‘implementing’. Most organisations already have rules, some explicit and others unspoken or implied. However, too often, we see that these rules, guidelines and processes aren’t actually implemented in their meeting room booking systems. This leads to unwanted behaviour; staff book the largest rooms with the best views, unnecessarily hog scarce video conference facilities, or book services at the last minute placing undue stress on your internal service teams.

The challenge is this; how do you communicate and enforce meeting room booking rules in such a way as to be considered helpful by your staff?

The answer? You need a meeting room booking system with a flexible rules engine that allows you to implement highly specific (and sometimes complex) rules that trigger at the right time and provide useful guidance for your staff.

This is where Smartway2 comes in…

Smart way to rule


Say I feel like having my team meeting in the atrium. But I haven’t considered the fact that it’s a premium space in the building for major events.

I open Smartway2 to book the Atrium and … hey, what’s that? The very instant I select the Atrium, a rule triggers and a message pops up letting me know that bookings for the Atrium can only be done via the Facilities team with details of whom to contact.

smartway2 room booking app

I decide I don’t really need the Atrium after all and book a regular meeting room. The meeting goes without a hitch. Everyone’s happy and no time is wasted.

Well, that was easy! Let’s consider some other examples:

Meeting room booking rules… for control freaks

Do you have a department that’s particularly protective of their meeting spaces? It’s common if they’re in high demand.

For instance, HR often needs to keep a close eye on interview rooms to make sure they’re available at the right time. Yet sometimes they might allow others to book them, subject to approval, when they’re free. In this scenario, creating a rule and approval process in Smartway2 keeps everyone happy.

Now when I try to book an interview room, a rule triggers telling me the booking will be subject to approval from HR.

smartway2 room booking app

It can even tell me what the SLA is for them approving it. So I can choose to go ahead with the booking, enter a subject (e.g. ‘can I book this room?’), and choose refreshments and any other options that are available.

My booking goes in. It’s displayed in the calendar as orange because it’s tentative, subject to approval. When the booking turns green I know HR has given me the go-ahead.

Take the pressure down 

Whose song was that again? Sorry, I digress… (and yes, I’m that old)

Say Sue from Account Management is pitching to important clients. She booked the boardroom in advance, but assumed she could worry about catering later.

A couple of hours before the meeting she realises she hasn’t ordered a working lunch. She quickly sends an email to hospitality, then rings them to make sure they got the email.

Chaos ensues when the catering team inform Sue they need at least 24 hours’ notice. They’re already stacked with orders. Soon someone is running out for sandwiches. The pressure is on to cobble something together that won’t leave the clients with a bad impression.

To avoid this kind of situation, Smartway2 allows you to configure available services and refreshments on a room by room basis, together with rules that specify for how far in advance they can be ordered. Furthermore, notifications, reports and digital signage can be used to ensure that the right people are informed with plenty of notice.

Helpful hint: You can use rules to determine what should happen when a user wants to cancel a meeting at short notice and there is an associated catering order.

Meeting room booking rules… for facilities management

Facilities teams can also fall foul of people booking meeting rooms without rules being in place. In some rooms, like the Briefing Room, there might be the option of flexible furniture layouts.

In Smartway2 I can choose from the options available. I can even control the workflow for someone to go and rearrange the furniture.

What if you have rooms with removable partitions down the middle? Say I need plenty of space for my meeting. That means I need facilities to take it down so I can use both spaces.

When I try to book the room in Smartway2, I can see the option to make it a combined request and use the whole space. The system knows which spaces are linked.

smartway2 room booking app

The Facilities team is often burdened with last-minute requests so in this case we’ve configured an approval workflow so they can make sure they have someone available to fulfil the request. When I make my booking I can clearly see it’s subject to approval.

All of this workflow is easy to define in Smartway2 and far from getting in the way, these rules are helping everyone work the smart way.

Meeting room booking rules… for equipment

Have you ever hogged important equipment, without even thinking about it?

Many of us are guilty of booking, say, the video conferencing room simply because it’s the nicest room. Even if we’re not going to use the kit. That’s bad.

But, you guessed it – Smartway2 meeting room booking rules to the rescue!

Now when I try to book the video conferencing room, it asks me to confirm that I’m going to use the VC equipment.


If I say yes by checking the box, the system allows me to go ahead and make the booking.

A simple rule like this can help people think twice about whether they really need a certain space, freeing up your gear for those who need it most.

Desk booking rules

Rules play a significant role in helping your office run smoothly when it comes to desk booking too. For example I can:

  • Set a 21 day advance desk booking window
  • Set a rule so you can’t sit at the same desk for more than 2 consecutive days, to prevent ownership (nesting) creeping in
  • Enforce departmental neighbourhoods, so you can only book desks in your own zone
  • Only allow you to book up to 5 desk days in any 21, to encourage field force to be on the road

Seeking approval

If you’re a superuser with admin privileges, it’s easy to see which bookings are waiting for your approval. With one click you can approve a meeting room booking or desk booking there and then.

Perhaps you get a lot of meeting room booking requests. In that case you might prefer to go into ‘reservations awaiting approval’ and view the queue of bookings in there. You can go in and look at each one and make changes. Or simply hit the approve button and it’ll disappear from the list.

‘Reservations awaiting approval’ and all other reports in Smartway2 can be used on an iPad or other tablet, handy for service personnel that are always on the move. This is particularly useful for things like teas and coffees, as well as the authorisation process on-the-move.

If you’re authorised to approve a particular room, when you try to book it, you can simply go ahead. Any booking you make will automatically approve and by-pass the procedure.

Is your meeting room management system configured the smart way?

“Simple rules lead to complex behaviour. Complex rules lead to stupid behaviour” – Dee Hock

Configuring rules in Smartway2 is easy. Rest assured, no troop of consultants need show up to get it done.

Meeting room booking rules don’t just support the way you work. They enforce a smooth, efficient way of working that instantly becomes business as usual. Just by using the system, everyone naturally rolls with the rules and works the smart way. So you avoid the usual costly pitfalls of poor meeting room management.

Meeting room etiquette to live by

Conference rooms have always been and will continue to be an important part of the workplace. Today they’re still a major asset alongside new concepts like agile workspaces, meaning demand is higher than ever. Now that we have run you through a few different scenarios and how Smartway2 can help transform the meeting room booking process for good, here are a few different meeting room etiquette tips you need to live by: 

1. Don’t double book

If you’re unsure about what conference room you need or what time works best for your team. that doesn’t mean you should book double spaces or multiple time slots as this goes against good meeting room etiquette. In the workplace, every reservation should be respected so other groups don’t book over you. Don’t waste the space on those who actually need it, wait until the details are set before you book a slot. 

 2. Be punctual and make sure you leave on time 

Meeting and conference room booking rules will only work if you are punctual, meaning if you book a room at 1pm then make sure you allow for a few minutes either side to accommodate those who may be coming from ad different meeting or travelling into the office to attend. If you’re going to ensure everyone arrives on time, then you need to ensure everyone leaves on time too, just because there is no one coming into the room straight after your meeting time doesn’t mean you should run the meeting on beyond the booking slot. 

3. Book in advance and if you need to cancel, ensure you do it at the earliest time possible 

Conference rooms need to be booked in advance, just because the room is empty as you walk past that doesn’t mean that it’s not spoken for. Remind your employees that conference spaces are formal and follow a process for reserving them. It is considered good meeting room booking etiquette to get the space book as far in advance as possible. If it’s a last minute, spare of the moment meeting then that’s different, but booking in advance keeps everyone in the loop. 

If you’re going to book well in advance, then try and cancel as early as possible too. If your meeting has been postponed to a different day or was cancelled, then free up that space for someone else to make use of. 

4. Leave the meeting room as you found it

Basic meeting room etiquette is to leave the space as you found it. Meetings can entail a number of different activities such as presentations or lunch-and-learn events, before you leave ensure that the team cleans up and disposes of the trash so it’s as clean as it was for your meeting, for those who plan to use the room next. 

5. Utilise the space correctly 

When working in an open-office space setting, it can be tempting to take yourself off to a meeting room for a call or to get some work done in a quiet zone. While this is ok if your day is packed out with important meetings and on a one-off basis, this doesn’t mean you should be doing it all the time. You could be preventing a team from getting together to collaborate in a conference room setting. Think wisely before you book out a meeting room! 

Prevention is better than cure

Your meeting room booking system should stop problems from occurring, rather than applying sticking plasters. That way you can avoid putting extra pressure on colleagues to fix resource mix-ups and oversights later.

That’s why Smartway2 is designed to stop people wasting time. The system prevents you going down paths that lead to dead ends. Instead, users are alerted there and then, when making a booking. If approvals are needed, or if certain services aren’t available, they know right away.

Rules are enforced in all user interfaces, whether you’re using a web calendar, the Smartway2 mobile app, kiosk, or our Outlook integration.

Rules encourage users to adapt to processes and workflow that make sense for everyone. For example, Smartway2 users will shift their meeting by an hour or choose a different room, to give hospitality time to prepare tea and biscuits. Rather than calling or emailing them with an impossible last-minute request.

These are the small things that make a big difference to a smooth operation. Particularly when meetings are a vital part of your everyday business.

Smart use of meeting room booking and desk booking rules can transform you workplace.


If you’d like to see more feel free to request a demo. We love sharing ideas on how to improve meeting room management in your organisation, so give us a call if you’d like to talk or contact us here.

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Jane Young

Jane Young

Last updated March 26, 2018