Should I Take External Bookings?

Keep Calm and Take External Bookings.

If you don’t currently take external bookings, we suggest you take a deep breath, look at the numbers, check your local market and perhaps think again.  You could be missing a trick.

Workspace providers throughout the world hold a huge market share when it comes to bookable spaces. This includes meeting rooms, boardrooms, conference rooms, hot desks and halls at coworking spaces, business centers, executive offices and member’s clubs but some of them are still not taking external bookings.

The affect is, there’s loads of great spaces out there however they are often not accessible to the general public and are reserved exclusively for members of the space.

The numbers

The Global Coworking Survey by DeskMag found that coworking spaces in the Asia Pacific region generate 16% of their annual revenue from renting event & class space. A further 14 % was received from renting out meeting room space. That is 30% of total revenue being generated from space which can booked by the hour, half or full-day.

If your space isn’t delivering those kinds of numbers then chances are you’re not taking online external bookings, and that means that you’re missing out. If you are taking external bookings but doing it manually, then here’s your opportunity to reduce your labour costs & make that line of business more profitable, with less manual entry & errors.

How could it affect my community?

Well for starters it could make it grow!  And for some, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in particular during the early start-up stages.  “What about my community, what will they think??”  While it is important to cater to the needs of members & your community, it is also vital that we don’t overlook the benefits of accepting external bookings. The two main benefits are:

Driving additional traffic through the space
The person attending the meeting could be looking for a coworking space to work out of or they could be in the market for a 1000sq/f private office.  By accepting external bookings workspace providers are ensuring a constant flow of new people going through the space. Targeted marketing material could be placed in the room, special offers for membership could be provided to new walk-ins.

Increasing revenue
External clients will pay more for the space than the existing client base. Often internal clients or members have access to free hours or a lower hourly rate, however the price can be set higher on external bookings and there will be plenty of people out there happy to pay it.

Remember that workspace providers are competing against large hotel chains and conference centers.

How do I know if there’s a market near me?

By completing a simple competitor analysis, it will be easy to see the median price for similar meeting spaces which can determine where to set your price.

Ask yourself why you aren’t currently taking external bookings:

  • Is it because you want to keep the space for your members?;
  • Perhaps you don’t want to have to create a system to manage them?;
  • Have you had issues in the past?;

Then ask yourself: What systems or processes could you have implemented to manage these problems rather than just closing off the option?  Life is after all about options & choice right.

O.k so there’s a market, how do I get into it?

There are many products on the market such as Meeting Hub that will manage the booking process and minimise any additional administration that comes with accepting more bookings. Often the monthly cost of these systems works out to be lower than the revenue of 1 or 2 external bookings.

So what next?

Set the guidelines.  Don’t be afraid to set guidelines on external clients and use this to your advantage. An example of these guidelines is that you may require 2 days notice for external bookings, which would allow internal clients to book with shorter lead times. It could also be that an email address must be provided with the option of an opt-in to receive marketing materials.

Identify problem areas within the business and brainstorm how external bookings can be used to solve them. After all this is encouraging and allowing a whole new group of clients to come through your space and they are paying you to do so.

Often a blanket ‘we do not take external bookings’ approach is used, but if leveraged the right way they can be used to solve a variety of pre-existing issues and by implementing a management plan the benefits can far outweigh the negatives.