Office 365, Email, Exchange, Understanding Room and Equipment (Resource) Mailboxes in Exchange

For IT Pros Exchange room mailboxes and equipment mailboxes offer campus IT pros a convenient way to help faculty and staff manage the schedules of their facilities and equipment.

Rooms and equipment in Exchange can be scheduled for meetings and other events.  Exchange allows you to manage the scheduling and availability of rooms and equipment provided by your department or unit. Rooms and equipment are sometimes referred to as resources.

Rooms and equipment can be set up to handle reservation requests in one of two ways:

A room or equipment resource has its own calendar, which can be viewed and modified just like a person's calendar. When a request for a room or piece of equipment is accepted in Exchange, an event is added to the resource's calendar.

Moderated

If a room or piece of equipment is set up as a moderated resource, requests to reserve the room or equipment must be accepted or declined manually. This provides you with oversight to the resource and allows you more control over who has access to the resource and at what times.

A moderated resource must have at least one delegate who is responsible for accepting or declining reservation requests, and it can have many delegates associated with it if you desire. When a request to reserve a room or piece of equipment is made, an email is sent to the delegate(s) for the resource. A delegate can accept or decline requests to reserve the resource, just like a person accepts or declines meeting requests for his or her own calendar.  Delegates will also need to approve or deny updates to the meeting that change date and/or time.

Auto-Accept

A room or piece of equipment which is configured to auto-accept reservation requests handles its own calendar automatically. No one is responsible for accepting or declining reservation requests on behalf of the resource. This provides you with an easy way to manage resources that are up for grabs in a first-come, first-serve way.

Exchange will always accept reservation requests so long as the following criteria are true. If one or both of the criteria cannot be met, Exchange will automatically decline the request.

Booking Window

All room and equipment resources in Exchange have a booking window, which defines how far in the future you can reserve a resource. By default, the booking window is 180 days.

As indicated above, if a room or piece of equipment is configured to auto-accept and a request is made to reserve the resource outside of the booking window, Exchange will decline the request.

For example, if you try to reserve a room one year from now (i.e. 365 days from now) and that room is set up to auto-accept, your request will be denied because it falls outside the booking window (which is 180 days by default). However, if you try to reserve that same room three months from now (i.e. 90 days from now), Exchange will automatically accept your request because it falls within the booking window.

Configuring Booking options

The settings in the Outlook web app allow you to set the booking options for room and equipment mailboxes:

  1. Login to https://outlook.office365.com. (Note: you must login using account credentials; full access rights will not be sufficient.)
  2. Click the gear icon to open the quick setting menu.
  3. Scroll down and click on Calendar
  4. In the left column, click on  Resource scheduling

This will give you most of the options needed to configure booking for room and equipment mailboxes. 

The default action is for resource mailboxes to use Auto-Accept. If you want the resource to be moderated, you will need to open a support ticket requesting that a booking delegate is added to the mailbox. If the resource is being moderated and you want to switch to Auto-Accept, then you will need to check the box next to Automatically process event invitations and cancellations.