April 12, 2019

How to get more out of your limited space


Limited Space

You’re an event scheduler so you know the drill: frequently you have more people needing space than you have space.  If you are doing a good job of promoting your venue and helping hosts execute productive meetings and entertaining events, this situation is bound to occur at some point. Sometimes, there just are not enough rooms to go around.

Space limitations create extra work for your scheduling staff as they scramble to accommodate an often-growing volume of requests with a static list of rooms. This includes tactics like:

  • Negotiating with requestors to see if they’ll accept a room that may not be optimal for their event
  • Shuffling previously scheduled events to accommodate new requests
  • Managing a waiting list
  • Hoping and praying for a cancellation
  • And, in general, a continuous and time-consuming stream of emails and phone calls

For some events professionals, this is a constant challenge. Others only feel the pain when a building or group of rooms is going offline for an extended period. Either way, if you are going to be successful, you have to find a way to accommodate more requests while still adhering to your department’s standards and mission.

Fortunately, in some ways physical space is a lot like time. They say it’s not how much time you have, but how you use it. The same goes for your facilities. It’s not how much space you have that matters, it’s what you’re able to do with it. As any seasoned scheduler will tell you, it's about being resourceful.

Getting the Answers You Need to Succeed

The dictionary defines resourceful as –“having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.” And the first step for tackling any problem is getting some perspective on it. How do you do that? Start by asking some key questions!

It’s easy to throw up your hands and say you just don’t have enough space to handle all the requests you get. But, if instead you want to meet the challenge head-on, it’s important that you have a good sense of its dimensions. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and your team to help everyone (including your boss) understand what you’re up against and develop a plan for addressing the issues.   

Scoping the problem

  • How much more demand is there than availability? Do we have a way to quantify the number of requests that can't be fulfilled?
  • What times of the day/week/month/year are we busiest?
  • What times of day/week/month/year are we slowest?
  • Why are those meeting times so popular or unpopular?
  • What types of meetings do we have during the slow times? Are they different than meetings held during peak times? Why or why not?
  • What types of meetings are we not able to accommodate? Who are the customers/departments/student groups who make those requests?
  • When do the requests come in that we can't accommodate? Are they last minute requests or are they submitted with ample notice?
  • What rooms are utilized the most and least?
  • What types of rooms are most in demand and why are they so popular?
  • How much revenue are we missing out on by not being able to accommodate all events? (If you know your average revenue per event, this should be easy to quantify.)
  • Are the meetings we host aligned with our department mission and goals?
  • What do customers do when they can't get the space they want when they want it? Where do they go?
  • How unhappy does lack of space make our customers?

Addressing the problem

  • What could we do to take advantage of slow times that would help us accomplish your departments goals?
  • What could we do to incentivize people to book meetings at our less popular times or in our less popular spaces?
  • How could we modify or enhance unpopular spaces to make them more appealing?
  • What services can we offer or change to create more balanced space utilization?
  • Would it help to publicize the availability of less-popular spaces or dates/times?

Powerful, Intuitive Scheduling Software is an Essential Part of the Solution

Now that you and your team are starting to ask the right questions, you have to be able to answer them! That’s where using a powerful, intuitive scheduling tool comes in. You need a system that provides insightful reports but also makes it easy for you to access the raw data and analyze it in way that is most meaningful to you.

With that type of scheduling application in place, you and your team can start leveraging your data to brainstorm solutions.  To have an effective brainstorming session, first make sure that you have clearly defined the problem you are trying to solve. Then state the objectives that the solution must meet. For instance, your objectives might be to utilize more space during non-peak hours or take advantage of under-utilized rooms.

Once the objectives are clear, ask your staff to come up with ideas on how to meet them individually before bringing those ideas to the group. Having everyone think about possible solutions prior to getting together can lead to more diverse ideas. 

Unless your organization has imminent facility expansion plans, the space you have today is all the space you’ll have for the foreseeable future. But with a little creativity and the support of advanced room scheduling technology, you can develop strategies for making the most of this precious resource!

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