This article is part of Allwork’s Best Business Practices series.
Guest post by Steve Golding
Meeting rooms are a workspace’s most profitable asset–at least this is the case when operators manage it properly. If you believe your meeting room revenue is low or if you believe your workspace could be generating more profit from meeting space, then you’ll want to heed the following advice.
Best Meeting Room Practices For Flexible Workspace Operators
In my opinion, no business center or serviced workspace should be 100% occupied all the time. If you are, then you probably aren’t driving rates and you’re risking losing existing clients. If your workspace members need a little swing space or need to expand and you’re at full capacity they won’t be able to do it with you; so they will go somewhere else.
My suggestion here is that you create ‘ghost rooms’. Ghost rooms are basically spare office space that you can turn into bookable meeting room inventory. If the space gets booked as a meeting room, you can easily set up the room that same day and once the meeting is over, you can transition it back to its original layout.
Always Take Payment at the Time of Booking
This should be a rule-of-thumb especially with external bookers (those individuals that rent your meeting space without being members of your workspace).
With external bookers, there is no track record and no ability to enforce cancellation rules; so consider them untrusted (at least the first time around). On this same note, consider offering a discount to customers who pay via credit card–it’s good for your cashflow and it’ll help enforce cancellation rules when necessary.
If you currently are unable to take payments at the time of booking, then that needs to change unless you want to keep losing clients to local competitors. Think of it this way, you can’t reserve a hotel room without paying for it and neither can you book an airplane seat without paying for it. So why would your meeting rooms be any different?
Availability is Fluid
Focus first on taking the booking, and figure out the fine-details and how to service the booking afterwards.
Re-Think Your Complimentary or Free Usage Policy
Most workspace operators often include free use of meeting space for X amount of hours as part of their workspace membership ‘perks’. The problem with this is that, in reality, you cannot track or manage the amount of time each member spends using your meeting rooms.
If you do want to offer free usage to members, do so–but don’t offer unlimited usage: if you don’t value it, neither will they. And make sure that you have a system in place that allows you to properly track who uses the space, for how long, and how often.
Measure, Measure, Measure
Measure your split of external vs internal bookings. The way I look at it is that, internal bookings will help you pay the rent, but external bookings will help you sell more workspace memberships and drive new footfall into your center.
You also need to measure your overall occupancy in order to calculate yield. When you are able to analyze and gather data on how your space is used, you can optimize it to increase your revenue. Does the space work better as a conference or meeting room, or does it yield more as a bookable on-demand coworking space, or does it generate more revenue as a private office or dedicated desk area?
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To finish off, remember that in the end it’s all about the yield.
You can only sell an office once, but a conference room has the potential to be sold multiple times a day. Here’s some food for thought: would you prefer to sell a 4-person office space for, say, $1K per person per month and yield $4K with a fully occupied inventory.
Or would you rather take 4 x 1 hour bookings per day at $80 per hour for an average of 20 days per month, yielding a total of $6.4K and having 50% of occupied space that can have untapped potential remaining.
That’s my share of advice for meeting room best practices for your flexible workspace.
About Steve Golding
Steve is a veteran of the flexible workspace industry having spent over 10+ years working in our industry. Steve has worked with the UK’s 2nd largest operator MWB Business Exchange, he has spent time as a consultant with Regus, and he launched and led Davinci Virtual (UK) in London before returning to Australia in 2012.
Steve is now CEO and Founder of Meeting Hub, a cloud-based, white label booking solution designed for business centers and co-working spaces to allow customers to book meeting, conference and training rooms in real-time via a provider’s own website.
In addition to Meeting Hub, Steve is also the Executive Director for ABCN leading the team in Asia Pacific and working with members to improve operational efficiencies, and grow existing and new revenue streams.