Meeting rooms have always been a staple part of business. But as a product, rather than enjoying the full limelight, meeting rooms often play second fiddle to other services like office space or hotel rooms.
Could 2015 be the year that meeting rooms finally take centre stage?
With meetingrooms.com revving-up a gear and moving officially into the global arena, it seems the humble meeting room could finally begin to enjoy its share of the limelight.
In flexible workspace, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for operators is the way their meeting room portfolio is marketed and booked. Various systems have materialised over the past few years that recognise the importance of the product, and have helped operators sell meeting space outside of their existing client base.
Each supplier has enjoyed its own measure of success. But it's taken a workspace brokerage firm to really focus on the task at hand and set up a new dimension that places meeting rooms bang in the spotlight, once and for all.
Now that spotlight is global, and it's shining well beyond the flexible workspace arena.
meetingrooms.com, created by Search Office Space, is a search-and-book system dedicated to all things meeting. From standard rooms and collaborative space to conferences and business events, the live availability platform focuses intently on making the booking process as easy as possible for both client and operator.
For operators, the key benefit lies in the opportunity to market their meeting spaces to a broader yet more focused audience. The platform aims to help reduce the amount of time meeting rooms sit vacant, increase sales, and fully utilise meeting room portfolios through enhanced buying power.
In CEO Caleb Parker's words, meeting rooms are the last piece of the flexible workspace puzzle. Indeed, the flexible workspace concept is growing at a phenomenal rate; the BCA's own market research found that the UK industry alone is now worth over £2bn, with over 80,000 businesses relying on flexible workspace nationwide.
As such, and with UK small businesses facing a 'golden era' according to extensive research by government Enterprise Minister Lord Young, the need for flexible meeting rooms and workspace is only set to intensify.
"While it's true that technology has empowered us to 'work anywhere', often the work you are doing - a negotiation, a sales pitch, training courses, court reporting, a team meeting - is best conducted in a professional environment," said Caleb.
"Until now, it’s been difficult to find that perfect meeting place, on-demand, anywhere in the world. MeetingRooms.com is in business to fix that problem."
meetingrooms.com's intentions have long been known, and its official launch takes it beyond the final Beta test phase and into the international market - opening up new opportunities for BCA Members and workspace operators the world over.
A competitive advantage
Of course, the opportunity isn't exclusive to coworking spaces and business centres.
As we well know, hotels have been nudging into the flexible workspace arena for some time, and this latest announcement is likely to further enable the hotel industry to ramp up their meeting room sales.
Sarah Simes, Director of Sales, Corus & Laura Ashley Hotels, described the launch as "very exciting" and "extremely beneficial" for hotel operators and customers alike.
On the face of it, this may present unwelcome competition for coworking and business centre operat