The online meeting rooms market is bubbling with anticipated activity.
A snapshot poll by OT suggests that improved marketing of meeting rooms is a top priority for business centre operators in 2015, with “expansion” and “technology upgrades” also on the agenda.
Read between the lines and all three of these objectives – meeting rooms, expansion and technology – fall in neatly with the strategy and vision of one platform, meetingrooms.com. Having been in Beta for the last 12 months, meetingrooms.com has just announced its international launch.
“We have a big vision for our industry, and it’s literally taken years of talking about what could be, and what should be, to get buy-in from key influencers,” said Caleb Parker, CEO of meetingrooms.com.
“So when we set out to build the meetingrooms.com platform we knew we had to get it right.”
Numerous workspace marketing platforms have materialised during that time as market momentum gathers. But according to Caleb, their objective was steadfast. Walk first, then run.
“We had a few internal targets to meet before telling the world we’re ready for business, and we spent the last year doing just that.” One of their targets included a global inventory to meet the international demands of their clients. “We wanted meeting rooms in 30 countries before launch,” he said. “We’re in 42 countries now.”
Another key objective was to pass the 1,000 venue milestone. They’re currently at 1,043, and expect to add a whopping 4,000 extra workspace locations over the next 5 months.
Finally, it was imperative to launch with a clear and simple user experience. This goes well beyond the look and feel of a website, and delves into a complex web of demographics, user preferences, booking flow techniques and extensive test analysis.
“We spent a lot of time with our corporate clients and venue partners to improve our user experience,” said Caleb. “We’ve made thousands of changes based on their feedback. This process will continue, but we have launched with a brand new website that is the best yet.”
According to Caleb, user experience isn’t just important for successful bookings. It can also help to change perceptions of the market at large.
“While the demand for smaller meetings is growing significantly, most people don’t immediately think of booking a meeting room. Walk into any Starbucks and see laptops out and meetings taking place.
“Those who do want to book a meeting room find the experience of actually doing so very frustrating. Venues are finally coming around to showing live availability and prices on their websites, and we’re giving them the ability to offer instant bookings through our marketplace.”
Live availability is a crucial part of the puzzle, as it makes booking workspace as quick as booking a hotel room. On the subject of which, meetingrooms.com is not reserved exclusively for the workspace industry. Operators could well find their product shoulder-to-shoulder with a major hotel chain.
However, this can actually open up new audiences for workspace operators and level the playing field with large hotel brands.
What’s important here is ensuring your listing – including photographs and descriptions – is professional and visually appealing. As we well know, first impressions really are everything, and major hotel chains already have a sizeable head start, with years’ worth of experience in the e-commerce field.
Indeed, the success of meetingrooms.com to date is an impressive measure of the enormous potential that lies within the on-demand meeting and workspace market.
Hundreds of bookings have already been processed during the company’s Beta phase, and the team has expanded swiftly to 25 employees. In addition, meetingrooms.com has completed integrations for real-time bookings with many key players in the global market, including MorningStar, Evo Technologies, Servcorp, Your Virtual Butler and Hubcreate. Other big names are set to be announced very soon.
We live and work in an on-demand age where the world is at our fingertips, and ultimately, Caleb believes that “people want to control their environment”. Certainly, these are exciting times for workspace operators, and there are tangible opportunities to connect with new audiences and place your workspace on the global stage.
With more businesses turning to online bookings and operators seeking to turn vacant meeting and workspaces into additional revenue channels, could 2015 be the year it all comes together?
Image source: HMS President, London (meetingrooms.com)