Meeting Rooms - to charge or not to charge

To those you have meeting rooms:

  1. Do you charge your members to use them? If so, why? If not, why not?

  2. Do you rent them to non-members? If so, why? If not, why not?

  3. If you rent meeting rooms to non-members, do you offer members a discount? Why / Why not?

Julia Ferguson

Cowork Frederick

We allow our members a certain amount of free hours a month. Five if you are in the communal area (coworking and desks) and 15 if you have an office. Originally, everyone had the same amount but the offices used them more so we adjusted. This was decided from feedback of members who used other spaces that didn’t have a limit. They would book them and never show up. Overages for members are charged at 50% the rate that we rent to the general public. Which answers the second question, yes we rent to non-members. We have three of them so there is usually always one empty and it’s a great, easy way to increase revenue.

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On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 10:58:04 AM UTC-6, Julia Ferguson wrote:

To those you have meeting rooms:

  1. Do you charge your members to use them? If so, why? If not, why not?
  1. Do you rent them to non-members? If so, why? If not, why not?
  1. If you rent meeting rooms to non-members, do you offer members a discount? Why / Why not?

Julia Ferguson

Cowork Frederick

  1. Do you charge your members to use them? If so, why? If not, why not?

Here’s what we used to do and still mostly do: Offer a certain number of free hours depending on the type of membership, and charge a very good member rate after that. In my experience most coworking spaces use some form of that.

We charge for two reasons: (1) because the meeting rooms are a limited shared resource and charging helps ensure people don’t monopolize it, (2) we’re providing something of value that we pay for and we need to pay for the services and space we provide and hopefully make a profit, and this is one way toward doing that: I haven’t encountered many people who thought it was unfair that we charged for extensive meeting room use given that we’re explicit with what we’re getting.

But… we let all members use the meeting room for up to 1/2 hour if it’s not reserved without charging them/counting their hours (as long as it’s not used for meetings with non-members). If someone else reserves it, they have to leave, and if they use it for more than 1/2 hour they are expected to book it. This has worked really well because the meeting rooms are a really useful space for members and that resource ends up getting used a lot more effectively when it’s open to impulse calls or conversations or meetings that members don’t really need it for even though it’s available and useful.

  1. Do you rent them to non-members? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes. We rent them at a premium to non-members. We would stop doing it if they were being used to capacity by members, but they’re not. Again, it’s a way to increase income / help pay the bills, and it uses a resource we have available with little negative impact on members, so why not.

  1. If you rent meeting rooms to non-members, do you offer members a discount? Why / Why not?

Yes. Lower prices are a perk of membership that add value to the memberships and also provide a big part of reason that people who primarily need the space for the meeting room commit for long-term use of the space.

All that said, in my opinion the best answers to these questions depend more on what resources your (actual or desired) members want / expect and what resources your space already has, not as much on what other spaces are doing. How accessible are your meeting rooms to non-members, how many meeting rooms do you have relative to working space, what kind of role do events play in your space, to what extent are your members individuals and freelancers versus teams and startups, how much need is there for meeting room space in your community and can you charge prices that would justify making that part of your business? What we’re doing is definitely in part because of how these other questions are answered.

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On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 10:14:25 PM UTC+1, [email protected] wrote:

We allow our members a certain amount of free hours a month. Five if you are in the communal area (coworking and desks) and 15 if you have an office. Originally, everyone had the same amount but the offices used them more so we adjusted. This was decided from feedback of members who used other spaces that didn’t have a limit. They would book them and never show up. Overages for members are charged at 50% the rate that we rent to the general public. Which answers the second question, yes we rent to non-members. We have three of them so there is usually always one empty and it’s a great, easy way to increase revenue.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 10:58:04 AM UTC-6, Julia Ferguson wrote:

To those you have meeting rooms:

  1. Do you charge your members to use them? If so, why? If not, why not?
  1. Do you rent them to non-members? If so, why? If not, why not?
  1. If you rent meeting rooms to non-members, do you offer members a discount? Why / Why not?

Julia Ferguson

Cowork Frederick

I have always allowed complete, free use of meeting rooms for full time members, with the understanding that there is a common sense approach, based on the core principal that the resources are shared and no one company can monopolise them. We do also rent out our meeting rooms to outside members and across 10 rooms make aprox $4000 a month in additional income.

The interesting thing is that because we have had that policy for the past 8 years, some members are very sticky and wont consider moving elsewhere because of this one policy.

Our meeting rooms are free for members but common sense rules apply.

For people who aren’t members or for companies, they can use meeting rooms for a fee.

We have a half day or full day rate.

I would recommend you charge - otherwise you risk the ‘tragedy of the commons’ that is mentioned above - if you attach no value to something - people treat it like it’s valueless… which it isn’t.

Also, of course, it’s a source of revenue - there are various posts across the internet that discuss how much additional money WeWork makes from meeting room bookings above it’s monthly subscription fee. Talking to a mate a recently he was paying ~3K USD a month for meeting rooms on a 10K/month large private office. 30% additional revenue aligns with other things I’ve read.

Of course give out free credits to members - I’d suggest you don’t do it as just hours - you can’t vary the rates per room, or the rate by day or time. Have a use it or lose it approach - no rolling credits forward.

Places I’ve worked we’d allocate a USD / GBP amount per member per month (it’s also a good sweetner to close a deal) - WeWork allocates a number of ‘credits’ which allows them to vary the cost by time/day without drawing attention to an actual cost.

I’d also suggest having a cancellation policy that refunds a % of the booking fee depending on how close the cancellation is to the start of the meeting - we saw pretty shonky behaviour from ppl cancelling meetings just before they were due to start - preventing you from ‘reselling’ it - and hence losing revenue.

Ed