Room booking options for charities

Here is the fourth in our continuing series of IT advice articles.  This feature is intended to suggest ways that charities can improve their use of IT in order to become more effective and efficient.  Here, Craig Steeland, who works locally as a social care IT consultant, describes some options for charities who want to implement a room booking system.

Question: Our building has a number of meeting and conference rooms which we use internally and which are sometimes used by outside organisations.  We need a system to record room bookings and possibly charges for room hire by outside agencies.  What would you suggest?

Answer:  There are a number of options available.  The better systems are cloud-based enabling bookings to be viewed from any computer.  The systems described below range in price from free to quite expensive, depending on the features included.  They can manage bookings for a range of spaces including meeting rooms, sports courts, studios, hot desks, halls or similar.

Option 1 – Skedda

Skedda is cloud based and free for up to five spaces.  It does not create invoices, so any invoicing would need to be handled separately.  However, data can be passed to a limited number of accounting systems.  Skedda users can be set up to allow self-service bookings, and there are options for creating policies such as cancellation and minimum-notice rules.  This would be ideal for a small charity with a small number of rooms and fairly simple requirements.  Find out more: https://www.skedda.com/

Option 2 – MIDAS

This is a complex and very powerful cloud based system which requires significant input to configure initially.  It includes an invoicing component which can be set up with various pricing schemes for different types of room users.  Bookings for additional equipment used in spaces can also be made on the system.  MIDAS features the ability to display room availability information on a website and to allow online room hire requests.  The technical support from MIDAS is excellent.  MIDAS is expensive, costing over £500 for the full system, plus an annual fee.  Find out more: https://mid.as/

MIDAS has an online live demo site.  All you have to do on this screen is to click on the ‘Login’ button at  https://demo.mid.as/index.pl

Option 3 – Hallmaster

Hallmaster is also cloud based.  Like MIDAS, it can be configured  to display room availability on your website and to allow online room hire requests.  It is configurable to allow for the addition of drinks, digital projector, etc., to be added to a particular booking.  It includes an invoicing component which allows export of data into CSV format for import into finance software.  Hallmaster has a 90 free trial to allow for testing the system before purchase.  It is much cheaper than MIDAS, costing about £180 per year with no upfront cost.  Find out more: http://www.hallmaster.co.uk/