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How to set up a meeting room resource in Exchange 2003

These notes cover how to set up a bookable resource (such as a meeting room, pool car etc) so that people can book the resource using Outlook. These notes assume a meeting room, but can be applied to any tangible resource.

Create the Resource in Exchange

Each resource needs its own Exchange user account. Unfortunately there is no difference (to Exchange) between a user account for a person and a user account for resource (such as a meeting room). The difference is only in how they are used (see How to book the resource below). (This is different in Exchange 2007, which does have resource mailboxes.)

  1. On the Exchange server start up "Active Directory Users and Computers".
  2. Create a new user account for the resource.

    I prefer to create resource accounts in a separate Organisational Unit, but you can create the resource account under "Users" if you prefer.

    Be sure to create an Exchange mailbox for the new account.

    Be sure to give the account a clear "Display name", so that others can clearly identify it when they are trying to book it. It may be best to open the account once it has been created to edit the "Display name" to ensure that it is clear. For example "Meeting room 1".

  3. The account now needs to be be configured, so log into the account and open Outlook. Once you have configured outlook to connect to the Exchange server the following needs to be configured:
  4. Set the account to automatically accept new bookings if not already booked, and to automatically decline meetings where there are clashes:

    Tools > Options > Preferences > [Calendar Options...] > [Resource Scheduling...] and set:

    [/] Automatically accept meeting requests and process cancellations
    [/] Automatically decline conflicting meeting requests
    [ ] Automatically decline recurring meeting requests.

    Click [Set Permissions...] and give other people permissions on the resource's calendar. I suggest "Author" for most users and "Editor" for any administrators who need to be able to override the bookings of others. You may find this easier to assign these permissions to a group of users rather than to individuals.

    Save these settings.

If you need the resource to be available straight away for others to use (and not wait until the following day) then see also: How to force the address book to update.

How to Book the Resource

The key thing about booking a resource (such as a meeting room) is that it must be invited as a resource.

Normally when you book a meeting you can invite attendees and invite each as "Required" or as "Optional". The resource you want to book should instead be invited as a "Resource" (which shows as "Resources" in Outlook 2003).

If you simply invite the resource without marking it as a resource then you will not be booking the resource.

These notes have been tested with Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003.

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