Hoteliers spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to maximize the spaces in their hotel — from double-booking the penthouse suite to opening up the steakhouse on the first floor for lunch on weekdays. “In a challenge as complex as function space management […] there are rarely clear indications of which business to take versus which to let go,” writes 4Hoteliers.
Some companies run into the same sort of complex problems when it comes to managing their facilities. With meeting room software, many of these can be avoided, of course. But here are a few issues that you or your meeting manager may not have even been aware of:
1. Different calculations of space. Often in reservation software, rooms are booked in terms of number of chairs around a conference room table. But what if the meeting is so short that you don’t need chairs? Suddenly, you have much more space in the room, because people are standing. Just as in hotel “think,” a group that is horizontally spacey is much more damaging than a group that is vertically spacey. Vertical space means the group needs too much space on the dates the guestrooms are in-house (for example, if a group fills half the hotel’s group room needs but requires all of the hotel’s function space). In meeting room terms, this means booking a room for 10 people with chairs, when there are really only 6 — and 2 of those people are presenting, so they’re standing up the entire time.
2. Breakouts. Events that take place in hotels and convention centers have to consider “breakout” rooms —the number, size, and assignment of breakout sessions from a big group. For large meetings, you should consider the idea of having shorter breakout sessions with smaller groups. Use your meeting room software to plan this; book a large room in the beginning for the whole group, then use the web calendar and reservation software to continue to book rooms, but a collection of smaller ones rather than the big one. You’ll find it much easier to do this than to simply get up in front of the group and ask that people divide themselves up. This way, you have room assignments for each breakout group.
3. Being realistic about need, and execution. Hotel and sales executives know the first step is to take every lead for room booking in their facility and re-work it to reflect reality. If the lead is for four peak nights but the program ends at 5pm on the third day, that fourth night is subject to 50% slippage or more, for example. They can use history to some extent, but it’s not really reliable in predicting a group’s behavior. In your office, you’ll need some common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism to help you understand the reality of meetings. You can send out invitations to a meeting and have it show up on everyone’s web calendar, but does that mean that everyone is going to show? Use your reservations software program to identify patterns over time, and better understand how many people will actually be at the meeting you booked.