Writing your name on a piece of paper or an Excel document to book a meeting has rightly been consigned to history. And although office tools like Outlook are great for collaboration and scheduling meetings, they provide only limited functionality for booking physical spaces, services and resources.

Software applications designed for reservation management offer extensive benefits to efficiency across departments. With the explosion of the Internet of Things, advanced systems can now also incorporate live data from sensors. Wireless sensors in meeting rooms capture occupancy and comfort data and display this information in real time on floorplans. Output devices have become more varied (kiosks, mobile apps, meeting room displays) and user interfaces have become simpler to use. The result is a more intuitive and comprehensive reservation management solution that makes booking meeting rooms a breeze.

Meeting mayhem

The old-fashioned way of reserving a meeting room can be a logistical nightmare. Meetings frequently start late or end later than planned, causing a backlog that only gets worse through the day.

Booking a room isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll get that room, with accidental clashes a frequent issue. The result is that many people waste time stood outside rooms, or end up walking around hunting for a suitable space to conduct a meeting that was booked weeks ago.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. A meeting and reservation management solution can slot seamlessly into your existing FM architecture, automating the entire process. To maximize impact, consider a reservations module that’s part of a modular facility management platform. That way you can benefit from standard process integration with reception services, help desk, work order management, and more.

Whether it’s at the booking, administrative, or service delivery stage, organizing a meeting becomes a simple, smooth process. Best of all, the provision of numerous touchpoints means there are options for booking in every situation, and for every kind of employee.

Offering choices

Companies often regard software implementation as a perilous process. Modern reservation management software, however, is designed for fast activation and adoption. A range of channels cater to different kinds of users in different situations, or to the same user during different stages of the day. For instance, you could book a meeting room on the way to work using a mobile app; or book a free room when entering the building by using the interactive kiosk in the reception area.

Alternatively, you can utilize a collaboration tool like Skype and ask a chatbot to find and book a suitable room for you and your guests. Or you can book a space on the fly using a screen outside the meeting room of your choice. Of course, you can also still book from your desk using the “good old” web interface, and your guests could check the kiosk to locate the meeting room.

Touchpoint-specific interfaces

Each of these touchpoints carries different advantages, and a user interface adapted to the use case. When it makes sense, a floorplan can be incorporated. Colour-coded floorplans show at a glance which rooms are in use, about to become free, or currently free. By clicking or tapping on these rooms, users can view specific environmental data, as well as an image and general overview of the location.

Touchpoint-specific functions provide different search tools to find the perfect room more easily. Apps streamline the process by recommending rooms based on a few key criteria. A Skype assistant provides more simplified answers to specific queries, while a web interface provides a broader range of data with its advanced search functionality.

For more short-term bookings, or those arriving at a meeting, individual screens for each room can provide immediate visual feedback. Meeting room displays show a list of upcoming events for that room, plus the current event. They can have LEDs on the sides of the screen to visually signal if a meeting room is available. As you would expect, green indicates that the room is free, red means it is occupied.

A smoother reservation management process

The reservations process doesn’t just improve reliability for those using the meeting rooms. It also includes the ability to catalogue and track resources. Furthermore, it provides the ability to request equipment and order food alongside a meeting. The logging of these orders can be used to determine costs, as well as assess the distribution and purchase of resources.

The software sends these orders to the relevant department automatically and ahead of time. This ensures that the resource is ready when you need it. You could book a meeting on the way to work and locate the room on the kiosk display when entering the building. When you arrive at the room, you will find refreshments already waiting for you.

Moreover, reservations software is not limited to room booking and related services. Staff can use the software just as well to reserve parking space, a pool car, or other equipment and services not linked to meeting spaces.

Space optimization

Meetings that start on time meanwhile are less likely to aggravate, and the time saved can be spent better elsewhere. Improvements to the user experience of booking and holding meetings stand to improve employee wellbeing; and a smoother, more comfortable meeting stands to be a more productive one. Integrating visitor handling also smooths out the process for guests, making the company look like an innovative and well-oiled machine.

But there are also more tangible benefits that come from digitizing this information. The ability to track usage allows for space and resource management, as well as detailed costing of what can be a neglected area.

reservation management

Meeting rooms can even be a testing ground for new optimizations and equipment, before the rollout across a complex. Reservations software is in many ways a microcosm of the improvements IWMS/CAFM brings to businesses: providing ultimate efficiency.

How do you manage reservations? Have you experienced some meeting room nightmares lately? Feel free to contact us to share your comments or to learn more about our reservations solutions.