In today’s busy world, most organizations have more demand for space than they have space. That’s just reality. And unless there are facility expansion plans in the works, it’s a reality you’ll be dealing with for the foreseeable future. So, how will you address this challenge? There tend to be two schools of thought on this.
Is “First Come, First Served” Effective?
In many scheduling environments, space is booked on a first come, first served basis. There’s a simple beauty to that approach, of course. A requestor contacts you, and assuming their event meets any requirements you have, you go to work on it. Then, when the next request comes in, you get started on it. That process continues until you run out of room.
Unfortunately, this strategy may not be the best for everyone. It ignores the fact that some events are naturally going to take priority over others. The three students who are planning to meet in a spacious multi-purpose room are going to be bounced out of there if a large event comes along that needs the entire space. That, again, is just reality.
So, for many scheduling departments, it makes sense to look at the big picture and prioritize event requests right from the get-go.
Why Prioritize Events?
Beyond the fact that you’ll often have to prioritize events out of necessity anyway, there are other reasons for doing so. They include that prioritization:
- Enables you to focus on events that promote your organization’s mission
- Helps ensure you have ample time to prepare for events
- Empowers you to use your resources (rooms, equipment, personnel, etc.) more effectively
- Allows you to maximize revenue generation
- Enables you to optimize space utilization
- Helps requestors understand why their request was denied
How to Prioritize Events
While every scheduling department’s prioritization strategy is different, there are some key questions to ask and considerations to keep in mind as you develop yours.
How does the event align with your organization’s mission?
Some activities clearly support the mission. For example, at a university, educating students is why you exist, so classes are a top (really, the top) priority. Other events may further the mission, but in a less obvious way. Again at a university, staff meetings for non-academic departments are important since they contribute to effective operations. So, you need to be clear about what your mission is and what types of events contribute to the organization reaching its goals. Of course, there will always be complicating factors, like when a big, money-making, non-academic event conflicts with an educational event. But having a framework for assessing those situations is helpful.
How will the event impact your organization’s resources?
A multi-day conference at a church. Commencement at a university. These types of events require a significant amount of resources, both in terms of the time required to plan and execute them and items like A/V equipment, tables and chairs, etc. Consequently, they should probably be at or near the top of your priority list.
How complex is the event?
An event may be considered “complex” for a number of reasons, from its size to its resource needs to the number of departments or third-party providers involved. The greater the degree of complexity, the higher priority you’ll want to give the event. Of course, you’ll need to be good at identifying complex events so that they get the attention they need.
What are your booking windows and deadlines?
In order to schedule events effectively, you need to have some rules regarding the timing of requests. Specifically, you need to set and publicize guidelines on how much in advance of the event date a request must be made, how far into the future space can be requested, and how much lead time is required for event changes. Without these rules, it’s impossible to prioritize events, as there’s too much temptation to just slip another event into the queue.
Will the event generate revenue for your organization?
In some settings, events don’t generate revenue. In those where they do bring in money for the organization, the amount of revenue will definitely be a factor in prioritizing events.
Monitoring Your Event Prioritization Strategy
Once you’ve developed and implemented your event prioritization strategy, it’s critical that you monitor its impact. How is it affecting overall space utilization? Are the guidelines having a positive or negative effect on revenue? Has the perception of your organization changed? There’s nothing wrong with circling back to modify your policy so that it does a better job of driving the results you’re looking for. In fact, it’s a good idea to review your strategy annually (or more often if necessary) to determine if it still aligns with your customers’ needs, economic factors in your area, etc.
Ultimately, having an updated event prioritization strategy is good for your customers, your organization, and your scheduling team.
Need help prioritizing and managing online room requests? See our free online resource, The Ultimate Guide to Taking Online Room Scheduling Requests.