Everyone has meetings – an average worker spends 7 3/4 hours a week in meetings – almost a full work day! And 70% of employees say they spend up to 15 minutes a day just looking for meeting space. With so many users spending valuable time just looking for available space, Room Scheduling Panels are becoming a great way to help mitigate an ongoing issue within most organizations.
Scheduling panels are simple to use scheduling tools that are located right at the entrance to a meeting room. They integrate with your company’s calendaring service to show the room availability for the day. Easy to see red and green indicator lights let you quickly determine if a space is booked and you can easily reserve the room right from the touch panel. It is a great visual way to enhance the meeting experience while providing real-time asset management. Not all options are created equal, however, so you will need to keep in mind the goals for your organization and what you will want employees to do from the touch panel.
Things You Need to Consider:
Below is an overview of several proven Room Scheduling panels on the market today. The first option requires an intermediate on premise or cloud server and the last three options can connect directly to a company’s email system.
Scheduling panels that require an on premise or cloud server have the advantage of one communication path between the server and the email system, which is better for IT security and allows for management of a much larger number of conference rooms across multiple geographic locations.
Crestron Room Scheduling is a fully-integrated stand-alone solution that connects directly to existing scheduling software to allow you to instantly book rooms and confirm meeting details. The solutions is compatible with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Google Calendar. Cloud or on premise deployment options are available. The on premise option requires a server or virtual machine and SQL licensing and is completely isolated from external networks. It is designed to be part of a complete enterprise room scheduling solution including Crestron Fusion Cloud Enterprise Management software. Crestron Fusion supports the use of room occupancy sensors to detect when no one has shown up for a scheduled meeting and will automatically indicate the room as available. The panel can also be custom-programmed to control AV, lights, shades, HVAC and other functions. Additional enhancements include support for streaming video, SIP intercom and audio feedback. The solution also provides detailed reports and analytics on room usage.
Crestron also has introduced the SSW Room Availability Hallway Sign. With a quick glance down the hall you can see available meeting rooms.
Also, with Crestron’s PinPoint Mobile App you can find and book meeting rooms, send meeting invitations and present content all from your phone, allowing you to perform calendaring and scheduling functions you could previously only perform from your desk or laptop. Costs – Hardware: $1,800, Recurring Software Fee: Lifetime $500/device, 3 years $300/device, On-Premise: $3,330.
Room panels that do not need an intermediate server but can connect directly to your email system have the advantage of a simpler implementation and work best for a smaller number of conference rooms in one geographic location. These options also work well for a small number of locations where the network communication does not have to cross a firewall to access the email server. Your IT staff will need to be familiar with each panel and how it communicates to the email system but in general these panels are simpler to implement than those that require an on premise or cloud server.
The AMX RoomBook is a stand alone scheduling panel that integrates directly with popular room scheduling software without additional system hardware requirements. The user interface background color and built-in room availability bars change between red and green to show room availability. If a room is not available, it will suggest other currently available rooms. The solution directly integrates with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Google Calendar. RoomBook is quick and easy to install, without the need for a controller and monitoring software. RoomBook supports enterprise management applications such as integration with room components such as lighting and HVAC, as well as detailed analytics on room usage and remote management. AMX does not offer an on premise deployment option. Costs – Hardware: $1,900, No Recurring Software Fee.
Extron combines Room Agent software with TouchLink Pro touch panels to create a complete room booking system. Other devices rely on additional scheduling software or external processors, while Room Scheduling touch panels connect directly to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Google Calendar for a stand-alone room booking solution. Users can reserve rooms from any device connected to Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, including from your computer, tablet or smart phone. Support for Google Calendar is not currently available for this feature. Extron Room Scheduling supports 26 languages. At this time it does not provide enterprise management features such as allowing you to find other available rooms, control other systems in the room or to compile detailed analytics, but Extron claims these capabilities will be available soon. Extron does not offer an on premise deployment option. Costs – Hardware: $1,990, No Recurring Software Fee.
BookIT is a cost-effective and easy to deploy system that allows you to schedule any room on the network from the touch panel, your mobile device or computer. The solution directly integrates with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work), and no additional server is needed. BookIT includes a support options to contact your internal technical support team when needed and is available in Spanish, English and French. Microsoft Exchange integration works with 2010 or later versions and can be hosted on premise, a hosted site or Office 365. BookIT does not offer an on premise deployment option at this time. The solution communicates directly with your calendaring system but requires an internet connection to communicate with the BookIT configuration and license management cloud service. Costs – Hardware: $1,299, No Recurring Software Fee.
So Which One Do You Choose?
The best solution for your organization will depend on the needs and use cases within your company. You will need to consider the types of meetings you have, the number of rooms that could benefit from this feature and how many users will take advantage of the new panels. Also consider if users will want to control other systems in the room from the touch panel, or if detailed data on room usage will be helpful for future planning. Or just reach out to us, we have tested out all options and can give you a run down of which one we think will help improve the meeting experience for your organization.