The Ultimate Guide to Meeting Room Requests

Bryan Peck

Create a better online request process that is easier for your customers and less work for you.


Your facilities and event services are in demand and you need a way to allow your customer to schedule their events without creating more work for yourself. Having an online reservation request process allows you to  handle incoming inquires and requests for your space while providing great customer service. 

Whether you need to create a reservation strategy or you wish to refresh your existing one, It never hurts to reassess your existing process and become more efficient. This guide covers 10 key considerations for taking online room requests and is most valuable for organizations that have some type of room scheduling software solution.

Defining Your Goals

Before you start using an online request process, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Defining your goals not only allows you to focus on what’s important, it also allows you to measure your progress toward attaining those goals.

Understand your Customers

The first step in defining your goals is understanding what your customers want out of your request process. Another way of saying this is that you need to fully understand the demands that your customers are placing on you for meeting space and services. By understanding customer expectations, you can align your goals with them. Not only will this increase customer satisfaction, it will help you keep your costs—both in terms of time and money—as low as possible.

For goals to be effective, they must be specific and measurable. A goal that says you want “to decrease the time to process requests from one day to six hours” is better than one that says you want “to make the scheduling process more efficient.” With the latter, you have no way to measure your progress or to know if you’ve reached your goal.

Learn more about why you should review how you take requests by reading  The Top 5 Reasons to Overhaul Your Request Process. 

Your objectives should have a time element that indicates a deadline for achieving them. This will help you focus your efforts. Here are some examples:

  • Reduce complaints from staff or customers about scheduling mistakes from an average of five per month to one per month by July.
  • Reduce the time to process requests to six hours from two days over the next five months.
  • Reduce the number of events manually entered into the scheduling system by staff from 75% to 25% by the end of the year.
  • Decrease the average number of requests that can't be approved from 10% to 5% over the next 12 weeks.
  • Increase revenue from events by 20% over the next 12 months.


Choosing Your Event Request Process(es)

Factors like whether or not you have room scheduling software and what your operational goals are will determine which event request process or processes work best for you. 

Ways to take requests

There are four main ways to take requests. The method you choose will be determined by your goals and the capabilities of your scheduling system.

With this approach, the requester must call or email someone directly in order to inquire about availability and to schedule their event. This type of process doesn’t require room scheduling software, although you could utilize a system on the back end for tracking and managing requests.

Advantages: This method offers the highest level of control of any request process, as you don't need to share with customers any information about other events. It also allows you to provide a high level of customer service, especially since you can ask the customer directly for any information or clarifications about the information you need.

Disadvantages: This process is very time-consuming and requires lots of human interaction. It can be prone to errors since information must be manually entered into a room scheduling system, and it makes it difficult to prioritize events. Plus, any changes to events are also handled manually.

Works best for: This form of request process is often used for external customers who want to rent an organization’s facilities. There is typically a low volume of requests that can be managed on a first come, first served basis.

Accommodating Different Experience Levels

Most organizations have customers with a wide range of experience in planning meetings and events. Your request process has to accommodate these different experience levels. If it doesn’t, your less-experienced users may not be able to schedule the rooms and services they need.

Know your customer.

Your setup staff may know the difference between theater, classroom, and chevron room layouts, but your average requester may not. It’s important that you can see things from the perspective of people who use your space.

Learn more by reading How to Improve Your Scheduling Operation by Understanding Your Customers.

Below are some tips for accommodating different event planning knowledge levels.

Don't overwhelm people with options.

Most requesters will not be familiar with the services you can provide and will need information on them. But if you’re a sizeable operation, listing all the options on a request form can be overwhelming for the reader. Instead, list only the most common setup types, equipment, catering options, etc., with a note indicating this is just a sampling of what you offer. Include a free-form text field on the form to allow them to indicate they need other resources or services.

too many scheduling options

Provide easy access to assistance

Developing clear, concise written or video training resources is a great way to help users help themselves and minimize the number of questions that have to be fielded by your team. However, keep in mind that your requesters probably don’t want to sit through a 30-minute training video. Creating a series of 1-2-minute videos on specific topics is a better approach. If you use room scheduling software, check with your vendor to see what kind of training options they have for your users.

Enable more experienced event requesters to share additional details

Your request form should have fields where more seasoned users can provide detail about their event. Larger text fields are often best for this. People planning large events often have more complex requirements than those scheduling simple meetings. Make sure you can gather as much of this information up front as the user wants to share.

share additional event scheduling details
revise and update event request

Allow users to come back and update their requests

Events change. People (especially those new to event planning) remember important details after they click Submit. It happens. Empowering customers to change their requests makes both them and your staff happier!

Dealing Effectively With Event Complexity

Not all events are created equal. There’s a spectrum from the simplest gatherings to the most complex. Broadly speaking, a complex event is one that requires a high level of coordination and has a larger impact on the organization hosting the event. An example of a simple event is a department meeting that requires a meeting room but not any additional services. An example of a complex event is a conference where there will be multiple event services provided, speakers from outside the organization, and a large number of external guests.

It’s important to identify complex events so that you can respond appropriately to them and budget your time and resources wisely. Drawing attention to complex events also helps keep staff on the same page regarding how they are handled.

To learn more about spotting this type of gathering, read 9 Ways to Quickly Identify Complex Events.

There are three things to keep in mind when managing complex events:


Because of the logistics involved, complex events take longer to prepare for. There are typically more approvals, more coordination, and more effort involved. Make sure that you’re clear about how much time is needed to plan for these types of events and communicate this to your customers.

room scheduling timing

Review Process

Events that are simple in nature typically require a single approval if any and usually require much less notice to schedule. Complex events may need many signoffs from people in a wide range of departments and roles.Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.

reviewing facilities schedule

Event Coordinator Assistance

Some organizations will assign an event coordinator to be the main point of contact for the customer. The event coordinator helps with everything from room setup, to equipment and catering requirements, to personnel needs. It’s usually not necessary to assign an event coordinator for simple meetings, but their assistance can be crucial for complex events.

event coordinator assistance

Managing the Approval Process

When someone makes a request to use your space, you must first decide how much oversight is needed for their event. This depends on who your customers are, the types of events you host, and the level of service that you provide.


K-12 Schools

Approval is required for most events.

church temples

Worship Facilities

Approval is required for most events.

college university


Approval is required for most events with some exceptions such as libraries, where study rooms are first come, first served, and department meetings within a department’s designated area.

community nonprofit


Almost all scheduling is self-service with no approval required.

Developing Your Approval Procedure

Whatever type of approval process you decide to use, the key is to ensure it’s followed carefully and applied consistently. That means you should:

  1. Determine which events require approval. For instance, maybe your department requires all events to be approved by an event planner but there are some events that require additional approval by campus safety and risk management. Define and document rules around when these additional approvals are needed.
  2. Determine who is ultimately responsible for managing the approval process. This is the person who will monitor the process and provide feedback to the customer once the event has been approved or denied.  
  3. Determine who specifically will provide the approvals. Some events may require multiple approvals. For instance, a booking request that includes AV, catering, and room setup may need to be approved by all three departments. Can just one person provide approval or is it anyone in that department? Be clear on who is giving the green light.  
  4. Determine how you’ll route the event information to the approver. This can be manually, such as by email, or it can be automated in certain room scheduling software systems.
  5. Determine how you’ll track when approval is granted or denied.

Determine what an acceptable time frame is for the approval process. Nobody wants to be left hanging while their event is in limbo. Set expectations with those providing approvals on what an acceptable response time is.

Assessing Risk

All events have an element of risk. Your request process can actually help you mitigate risk in two ways. First, it allows you to gather the information you need to accurately assess risk. Second, it serves as a record of the event requirements and communication regarding the event.

The following are factors to look for that increase the risk associated with events:

  • Alcohol

  • Minors in attendance

  • VIPs present

  • Event transportation required

  • Signed agreement with an outside vendor or supplier

  • Physical activities that involve participants

  • Size of the event/number of attendees

  • Rides, inflatables, or mechanical devices

  • Outdoor events with associate weather issues

  • Sale of any items (food, t-shirts, etc.)

  • Event is open to the public

  • Use of an organization’s name or logo

  • Potential for outside media attention

  • Any type of political activity

  • Animals

  • Fire, explosives, or combustibles

What can go wrong at an event?

  • Food poisoning at a catered gathering
  • Collapse of a registration tent
  • Car accident due to alcohol consumption at a reception
  • Theft of a cash box at a fundraiser
  • Spectators injured by the collapse of temporary barriers

If any risk factors are present, make sure you have a risk management plan in place to keep everyone safe and sound.

Keeping accurate records of exactly what will be taking place at the event and all approvals received is also critical to mitigating risk. Ideally, all the information should be maintained in one system. This decreases the likelihood of details being overlooked and makes it easy for entities with overarching responsibilities to find information quickly. For example, with all scheduling details in one system, a security department only has to go to one place to see the “big picture” of event activity.

Guidelines for Request Timing

Timing is a key element in preparing for and executing successful events. It’s important to determine and then make clear to requesters and your staff how much notice is necessary in order to schedule meetings, events, and activities at your organization. Two of the main factors in that determination are event requirements and the time required to process events.

Event Requirements

The requirements of an event affect how much time it takes to plan. The type of room setup needed and the number of approvals that must be obtained are the primary considerations. In ascending order of time required, those considerations come into play as:

  • 1

    Events with no approval and no setup required

  • 2

    Events with approval required only

  • 3

    Events with setup required only

  • 4

    Events with no approval and setup required

  • 1

    Events with no approval and no setup required

  • 2

    Events with approval required only

  • 3

    Events with setup required only

  • 4

    Events with no approval and setup required

Digital Room Signs

One of the technologies that has grown in popularity to support just-in-time meeting planning is digital room signs. With a digital sign outside the door of each meeting room, meeting organizers can walk up and see if the room is available and book it right there without having to go back to their desk. Learn more about the advantages of digital sign Integration with room scheduling software.

If many of your events require setup and/or approval, you’ll need to have some kind of policy to determine how much notice is required to plan and execute the event. You’ll also want to consider having a dedicated staff member who can act as an event coordinator. An event coordinator is someone who takes responsibility for ensuring that all the requested services are organized and scheduled as needed. Depending on the size of your organization, the event coordinator may also be the person who approves event requests as they come in.

For events that require both approval and room setup, the amount of notice required to schedule may be partially determined by the complexity of the event. Events that require lots of services and coordination take more time to plan.

To learn more about the time required to plan an event, read Managing Event Requests: Timing is Everything

Request Processing Time

Another factor that impacts the amount of advance notice needed to schedule events is the time it takes you to process requests. You need to properly set expectations around the notice required to plan events and how long it will take you to respond to requests.

The rhythms of your organization will dictate when you receive requests. This is easily illustrated with colleges and universities. At schools, there is a natural yearly cycle, with semesters that begin in the fall and break in the summer. (This is true in North America anyway. The timing of the school year may be different where you are, but the principle is the same.) The volume and type of requests received fluctuates with the season. Being able to predict how these yearly cycles will impact the requests you receive allows you to assess and communicate how much notice is necessary to plan activities.

Once your volume of requests is high enough, you’ll want to consider prioritizing the requests that you receive. This will ensure that the events that are planned are aligned with the overall mission of the organization and/or department hosting the activity. Prioritizing also allows you to communicate when events should be submitted and to maximize facility utilization and revenue.

Learn more by reading Are you Prioritizing Events? If Not You Should Be!

Sharing Information About Your Facilities

Having an efficient and user-friendly online request process means being able to communicate information about your facilities to customers when they need it. This includes letting people determine room availability and learn about your reservable spaces. Making this information accessible and easy to use is critical, as it reduces the amount of time your staff spends responding to inquiries.

When providing this information, you should keep in mind that your customers will have a wide range of knowledge about your facilities. The new employee that needs to schedule a meeting may not even know where the meeting rooms are let alone what equipment is built into them.

Your scheduling system should communicate these two things to your customers:

1. Room Availability 

This means letting your customers know upfront what rooms are available for the date and times they’re looking for. If a room is not available, the system should allow them to see alternative selections for their event.

The simplest way to display room availability is to publish a calendar or list of events that people can use to determine what rooms are booked. This is also the most time-consuming approach both for customers and your staff, since customers are forced to study the calendar to find what they need and your team must continually keep the calendar up to date in order for it to be useful.

This method also has the drawback of having to show all events. If you have events that you choose not to display to the public, that defeats the purpose of showing room availability. Also, someone viewing the calendar may not see room setup or teardown time if only event times are displayed.

A better alternative is to use a scheduling system that has a built-in request form that automatically provides room availability for the user and doesn’t allow them to choose rooms for their events that are not available. These systems can also be configured to apply setup and teardown time automatically, plus they prevent conflicts with private events that may not be displayed on the calendar.

2. Room Details

Providing information about each space in a clear, accessible format goes a long way in reducing the amount of time your staff spends tied up with customers. This can be accomplished through a dedicated webpage for facilities information or by using a room scheduling software system that includes this information in its request forms.

Whatever method you use, you should make the following information available:

  • Description of the space. This is also a good area to include the types of events or activities that are best suited for the space.

  • Where a room is located. A short description is generally sufficient. For large facilities, you could show a floor map that displays the location of the space.

  • What the room looks like. One or more photos of the space is helpful to give the requester a sense of the rooms and the types of events that may be appropriate.

  • Room attributes or equipment that’s included in the room. Wi-Fi access and built-in AV equipment are nice things for requesters to know about.

  • Room capacity. If people can choose a style of seating for the room, it’s also a good idea remind them that the maximum capacity of the room may change depending on the seating arrangement. Some software systems will allow you to base the capacity on the type of setup.

  • Seating configurations for the room (if appropriate). Will the room allow more than one style of seating? Is the furniture movable.? If so, indicating the types of seating appropriate for the space can be helpful.

  • Event Services available in that space. Some rooms may not allow food or beverage, for example.

  • Policies governing use of the space. Are only specific types of events allowed there? Do certain organizations or entities have priority when it comes to request for the space?

Ensuring Your Form is Usable

Unless your office only deals with direct inquiries to schedule events, you’ll need an online request form that customers use to provide their event details. In developing your form, there are important considerations to keep in mind, including:


In many organizations, most work gets done from a desktop computer. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect mobile users. With mobile device usage now on par with desktop usage across North America, it’s more likely than ever that a significant portion of your customers or staff will be attempting to access your form when they are not at their desk.

ultimate guide to meeting room requests - mobile usage



Having a good online request process means that you’re able to gather enough information to provide needed event services without overwhelming the customer with unneeded or irrelevant questions. There should be a healthy balance between making the form short enough to complete easily yet making it long enough that you get all the details you need.

If you ask for too little information, you will not have enough details to approve the event. If you ask for too much information, it makes the form harder to fill out and you may wind up getting incorrect or incomplete information. The key is to find the sweet spot where you ask for just enough detail to plan the event and book the space without having to follow up on every request to ask for additional details.

Putting it All Together

A good online event request and room booking process will not only make you and your staff more efficient, it will allow you to provide better customer service. You can’t get there on hopes and dreams though. You need a strategy. Here’s a checklist you can use to guide the development of your improved scheduling process.


  • Define your goals.

Determine what you wish to optimize. Knowing your goals will help you decide what to focus on.


  • Identify the event request process that you’ll optimize.

Your goals will determine which event request process to use.

Requester Experience Level

  • Assess the experience level of your requesters.

This will help you determine which questions you need to ask and how to ask them. It will also allow you to design a process to support your less experienced users as well as those with the most experience.

Event Complexity

  • Determine your criteria for identifying simple and complex events.

Approval Process

  • Define your approval process.
    • Determine the events that require approval.
    • Identify those who will need to approve events.
    • Determine who will oversee the approval process.
    • Determine how approvers will be notified when approval is needed.
    • Determine how you’ll track approvals.
    • Determine how long the process should take.

Risk Management

  • Determine your risk management policies related to events.


  • Determine the amount of time needed to plan the event.
  • Determine the amount of time to process requests.
  • Decide how you’ll make your customers aware of these time frames.

Location Information

  • Determine much information you’ll share with your customers about room availability.
  • Determine how they will access this information.
  • Determine how much information you’ll share about the spaces themselves and how they will access those details.


  • Review your process and form for usability.
    Determine what the process looks like from your customers’ point of view by gathering feedback.

Go Live

  • Implement your request process.
  • Collect data to see how you’re doing against your goals.

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