Finding a free meeting room is the bane of many an office building. Even when there is a formal process in place, it is often unreliable. Participants arrive late and bookings overrun, clashing with other slots. And when you finally get into the room, it may not be properly equipped for your meeting. The loss of valuable time and the frustration caused can be significant. And the memory of a bad meeting can linger for guests from outside the business.

The advent of smart room booking addresses all these issues and more. From the initial process of reserving a room right through to the meeting, a reservations and hospitality solution provides a single point of contact. The ability to keep both current and potential occupants up-to-date while integrating other services enables a wide spread of efficiency improvements.

Smart room booking and user experience

A smarter automated booking process is most obviously beneficial for the end user. The provision of different touchpoints allows for flexible booking, while a single solution approach prevents conflict between bookings.

Essential for a smart room booking solution, is that users can book via a mobile app on their way to work. Upon arrival, they can check the room status from a standing kiosk. Or they can book and send invites simultaneously from their mail client. They know the room will be available on time and have the correct equipment as per their requirements.

But the organizational benefits on the ‘back end’ are equally important. The data collected from these bookings and room usage can help with the provision of services. It also supports broader decision making for the FM and C-suite.

One immediate impact is on the supplementary services demanded by meetings. Meeting hosts frequently require IT services and equipment such as projectors and cables. Refreshments are also a must, from fresh food to jugs of water, or even a portable coffee machine.

These are not just improvements to the user experience but often fundamentals of conducting a successful meeting. For departments such as catering and IT, the standardization and automation of these requests is invaluable.

The reservations management solution can trigger a service order at a set point prior to the meeting. Sending an order ahead of time allows the departments involved to prepare. Cleaning schedules can also be adjusted depending on actual usage, cleaning up more frequently on a particularly busy day.

Hospitality management and service delivery

Using reservations management alongside visitor handling also helps receptionists, and improves the user experience for visitors. A list of arrivals and automated announcements allow the receptionist to greet the guest. At the same time, an automated SMS message to the meeting host will alert them to their presence. As the sign-in process is also available through a kiosk, the receptionist is free to provide additional directions or undertake other tasks.

Reservations management also has immense value in calculating costs. Integration with existing ERP software can export this data, or it can be used as an independent feature of the software.

The cost can be charged automatically on delivery, while stock levels are calculated and updated. This resource tracking updates the contents of the room, recording where equipment has been delivered to and how much is still ‘in stock’.

This wealth of data is of evident use to FMs. Added to similar data collection from other building sensors and inputs, it can be analysed to determine usage costs and patterns.

Space management

If one room is not being used as much as another, it might be valuable to determine why. Something as simple as repeated orders for an extra projector or screen can indicate that the room’s default equipment needs to be changed. A more common scenario is where a meeting room that caters for 12 people, for example, is frequently booked for half that number.

This data allows you to observe broad patterns and offers the possibility for experimentation. This is particularly valuable for space management. The reservations management solution will provide a detailed overview of the evolution of occupancy of rooms over time. Visualizing this data will indicate trends and anomalies. Actions based on this information could be as simple as encouraging employees to book more appropriately sized rooms. And in the long term, it might be fruitful to divide the large room into two smaller meeting spaces.

smart room booking and occupancy analysis

Heatmap visualizing meeting room occupancy

 

The same principles can be applied to environmental data. If people continuously change the temperature in a room to a similar level, this might precipitate a broader change across the facility. A meeting room which is frequently colder than the others and is also used less may need better heating. Satisfaction scores provided upon leaving a room can be correlated to a variety of factors through FM analysis and machine learning, drawing interesting conclusions.

Some of these facets can be automatically detected and altered depending on conditions. Lighting and heating can be automatically turned off when rooms are not in use, while recommendations could be made to order extra equipment according to demand. The varying popularity of particular refreshments might lead to changes in the stocking and preparation of certain foods, or lead to the permanent installation of a coffee machine.

Smart working

The combination of sensors and live applications has already revolutionized booking, and continues to drive innovation across facility management. Mobile technology, tracking and the ability to analyse large amounts of data all stand to completely change how employees interact with a building and go about their daily tasks.

With the ‘Internet of Things’ only just hitting its stride, and businesses taking user personalization more seriously, the near future could see an even greater uptick in efficiency and productivity.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about sensor-enabled smart reservations and space optimization.