Conference and Meeting Room Scheduling Software
Team Collaboration, Space Management and Communication is critical for effective teams, and meetings are essential for effective communication. So scheduling conference rooms, meeting rooms or in general any space by a given date and time, cross sites and locations, should be quick and easy, right?
It’s often not. Between finding an appropriate space, determining who should be included, what resources like equipment’s, catering etc. are needed and who to notify, scheduling dozens of meetings each month can eat into valuable time. If you’re booking spaces for client meetings, lessons or social events, the frustrations are the same.
The best way to streamline this additional task is through automation. This guide is designed to help solution buyers learn the functionality and applications of room scheduling software so businesses and individuals can book rooms quickly and move on with their day.
What Is Room Scheduling Software?
As we mentioned, scheduling meetings involves gathering rooms, resources and people. Inviting visitors, ordering Catering, setting up the room, buffer times, approvals and many more. Room scheduling software is designed to coordinate these various parts – sometimes through different time zones and locations – so planners can schedule with awareness of timing or resource conflicts. Not considering the Video and Audio conferencing like Skype for Business and MS Teams.
No matter what type of room scheduling or reservations you’re making, software makes the process quicker and simpler. This includes
- Booking a meeting room in an office
- Reserving a space for private meetings
- Renting equipment for a conference
- Ordering the catering
- Inviting external guests
- Sending invitation emails
- Tracking the status of recipients reply
- Asking for Approval for certain kind of resources
- Reserving the parking spaces for guests
- And much more..
Quite a lot, right?
Most vendors and room scheduling solution providers in this market space offer similar functionality, so the biggest factors in your decision will include ease-of-use and cost. Technology used, scalability, it matters if you have 5000 or 50000 bookings in your company. Extensibility of the solution, each company has special requirements which might be needed, and the skill set of the administrators who can manage and handle thousands of bookings, workflows and permissions.
We’ll review the common functionality below.
Common Room Scheduling Software Functionality
Allows users to schedule meetings or events with a few clicks, and schedules can be dragged and dropped to switch dates or times. Customizable views (by day, week or month) and color-coded events offer comprehensive views at a glance. This view serves as a dashboard for anyone using the system.
Once an event is set, users can set up and send customized notification emails or texts to attendees to confirm the details of the meeting. Some notifications include registration or confirmation buttons so planners know how many people are attending.
In many cases content approval for all rooms or inly specific meeting rooms are required. Approval Workflows are very common in enterprises. Custom Workflows are needed in many cases. The solution you buy must support custom workflows. Ideal platforms who takes this into account is Office 365, with MS Flow and the SharePoint Workflows.
Business meeting and special event planners often need to reserve equipment in addition to a room. Scheduling software allows users to make sure resources are available on certain days by reserving them and linking them to an event.
Internal and external catering provider must be notified about an event. The need to get emails, or notifications about the details of the event. And even more importantly they need to know it in advance. So access to the catering orders by day, week month in advance must be given.
Conference Room Displays
This type of software is needed. Some vendors include digital signage capabilities—for example, planners can use tablet computers at each room to display important details, such as start time, reservation status, and name of the event, room number or a daily schedule.
Instantly book a free room from the display. Checking In and Out functionality is common. Extending a meeting is a required feature. Branding the displays with company logo and corporate design might be a nice to have feature, etc.
There are hundreds of different providers today on the market. It is time consuming and not easy at all to evaluate the right provider and the right solution. You need to consider after all, if you want to use your own iOS and Android devices or the provider’s hardware.
The most expensive solutions might be not the right fit for you. A higher price is only justifiable if you also get a higher value.
Your job is to find out if you need this higher value. In many cases as reviews shows, the higher value is not needed. Find out the significant basic features you need.
In many cases the following are the basic features you will need
- Book the room instantly
- Show the current event with the details, like title, event organizer and duration
- end the meeting
- extend the meeting
- Show the upcoming events for the meeting room
- Make booking times visible: show on the screen how long you can book the meeting room
- Allow predefined meeting time slots: like available for 15 Minutes, 30 Minutes, 60 minutes etc.
- Customizations with Logo and Coloring should be available. Keep it clean and simple.
When a meeting organizer pre-registers his/her visitor, an automatic invitation email is sent to the visitor with the details of the meeting and the Google map and the parking space reserved. Very professional and time-efficient.
Some features you should consider
- Wow guests with modern sign-in
- An Easy check out with barcode
- Create a welcoming experience for every visitor
- Free up your team to connect with each guest
- Show off your custom logo and colors
- Capture guest photos
- Visitor Dashboard
- Legal Documents
- NDA Signing
- Visitor Badges
- Notifications: Automatically notify employees when their visitors arrive
- Bar and QR code printing
- Create custom, color badges with your logo and Branding
Dashboards show space used, not used, meetings and no shows, key indicators that can help optimize the use of space. For example, find out which rooms are used most or least often and peak usage hours. How many no shows, how man cancellation are important data for enterprises.
A special domain is venue and event management. As it might have special requirements. You need well to consider if you want to integrate this field to the overall room scheduling system you want to use. It might be wise to implement this in a special project as the requirements and specifications would blow up the solution. Too many extra features from different departments could end up in endless discussions.
Stay realistic and find out what is really needed. Start the project with the MUST have features, and discuss extensions for a later version of the solution.
Mobile App for IOS and Android makes it easy to manage, find and book a meeting room, or even any other kind of resource, related to the evet.
Providing an overview of available rooms cross sites and locations for a given day and time
A calendar appointment should be created automatically, user can accept or deny the meeting request.
Easy Setup of the App, so the stuff can download and set it up in a simple way. Authentications or connections issues should not pop up.
The end users need to see his/her bookings on a fly. Able to delete or cancel the event with a simple one click
The App should allow to access all features of the solution intuitive and with a clean interface. It’s critical that for an ad hoc booking of a room, not to many screens pops up, till the available room can be booked.
Keep it simple and easy for the users to experience the room booking approach.
Don’t overload the staff with too many features, they might not need. Keep it simple.
This article was provided by ACAR, a leading conference room solution provider and Microsoft provider in Switzerland