- Jeroen Coupé and Wouter Braeckman discuss the ways in which workspace operators can use meeting rooms as a “growth accelerator”.
- Braeckman and Coupé recommend that operators offer a variety of meeting room types that serve different purposes.
- Furnishings and technology are very important, and can help operators to upsell their meeting room facilities.
Last week, Jeroen Coupé and Wouter Braeckman took to the virtual stage in a Zapfloor webinar to discuss the ways in which workspace operators can use meeting rooms as a “growth accelerator” for their brand and buildings.
Braeckman is a Community Manager at WATT The Firms, a Google-style campus workspace in Ghent, Belgium. Together with four other investors, real estate development firm, Re-Vive, masterminded WATT The Firms, and Coupé is its CTO.
Which meeting rooms types are proving successful?
To avoid under-utilisation, Braeckman and Coupé recommend that operators offer a variety of meeting room types that serve different purposes. WATT The Firms provide:
1. Phone and meeting booths
“Noise and lack of privacy are one of the strongest drivers of workspace dissatisfaction,” says Braeckman. WATT The Firms’ private booths have been so successful with members and visitors that they plan to introduce more.
2. Gallery room
In non-pandemic times, the operator’s bright event space doubles up as a nightclub.
“Flexibility is key, with stackable and mobile furniture that can be set up easily by one staff member. Some people think we’re just a nightclub – they don’t realise we’re a fully functioning formal workplace in the day!”
The rooftop is the perfect place to unwind, but owing to features such as acoustic curtains, writable windows and high speed WiFi, many members also use it to host informal meetings. “It’s got a more laid-back feeling than a typical meeting room.”
4. Repurposed room
When Covid hit in 2020, WATT The Firms lost all of its events revenue. But instead of letting their events space sit empty, Braeckman and his team decided to repurpose it into a pop-up venue.
“Mercedes-Benz were looking for a small location, so we transformed the room into a showroom focusing on electric mobility.”
5. Special purpose meeting room
“Add a microphone and mixers to your meeting space and you have a podcasting studio,” says Coupé. When it comes to meeting rooms, there are lots of cost-effective software solutions out there that you can invest in to make your meeting spaces stand out.
How can you use meeting rooms to boost sales?
Events have been one of Braeckman’s most important marketing and sales tools.
“Unexpected business between members and visitors – that’s what it’s all about,” says Braeckman, who remembers that on one occasion, a guest speaker at an event signed a contract for an office shortly after delivering their talk.
“We’re renting out our gallery for essential meetings during Covid, as companies are still looking to bring the team together once or twice. Our members love to see that the venue is alive and often ask me what events are happening.”
Furnishings and technology are very important, and can help operators to upsell their meeting room facilities. WATT The Firms uses biospheric ventilation in its meeting spaces; members and visitors are able to check the air quality score via a dashboard.
By going above and beyond with tech, WATT The Firms is able to attract additional meeting room and events clients – those who don’t rent an office in the building but want access to state-of-the-art facilities in the city to impress their team or clients.
How can technology improve meeting room utilisation?
In the webinar, Coupé shares the following tech tips for those looking to improve the overall quality and utilisation of their meeting spaces.
- Soundproof your meeting rooms. “Modern meeting rooms are often full of reflective surfaces that can cause noise problems. We chose curtains as they absorb a lot of sound waves – not necessarily high tech but an effective solution nonetheless!”
- Display the meeting room’s occupancy status clearly.
- Be “tech-agnostic”; it’s important that your meeting room tech is able to integrate with different software options, which is why WATT The Firms avoids Zoom rooms.
- Bear in mind that cable solutions (as opposed to wireless ones) are often the more superior option, especially for presentations that include a lot of animation.
- Use USB keys with caution – if a hacker places a corrupt device on the table and someone connects it to their laptop, their security will be compromised. HDMI cables are still a more secure option in most instances.
- Consider investing in 360° meeting room cameras so that your members can run highly effective hybrid meetings. This technology provides remote attendees with a view of the whole room and a more focused view of individuals when they speak.
- Want to avoid presenteeism in meetings? Check out the Myndr solution. “It allows you to regulate your internet with a device, so if you want to make sure that nobody gets distracted, you can just turn it off. It also fits in with the mindfulness trend and is a good marketing tool for your meeting room.”
- Explore VR meeting room tools, as these can help you attract the most innovative customers. “Mark Zuckerbuerg is betting on this becoming the next big thing for meeting rooms, and is preparing a virtual reality office solution called Infinite Office”.
- For virtual gatherings of over 20 people, spatial video can provide the perfect alternative to Zoom. “It looks like a game and mimics a real office space. You move your avatar around and can interact with people who you’re near to. It’s easy to use, so well worth trying out.”
Sign up here to watch Zapfloor’s webinar, “Meeting Rooms as a Growth Accelerator”, for free. If you’re based in Ghent and are interested in renting an office in WATT The Firms, an space is due to become available from June 1 (submit your enquiry here).