I have recently been working with a client to migrate rooms & resources from Lotus Notes to Exchange Online and the topic of “restricted conference rooms” has come up quite a bit. Basically these are conference rooms that a select group of individuals have the ability to reserve – examples being an Executive Conference Room, or a conference room that a particular department owns. The main challenge with Exchange Online vs Lotus Notes is that all resources & equipment show up in the Global Address List.

Through the GUI in Exchange Online you can setup “Delegated Booking” which is essentially a workflow for reservation requests that will be routed to users you specify as part of the delegated booking process. However, you will find that in large organizations that there are some executive admins that would prefer to not receive those reservation requests and would rather the room just be locked down for only them to reserve.

There’s no easy way to do this through the user interface however there is some clever PowerShell to accomplish this. What the experience will be is when a user that users you designate having booking ability will receive accept/decline based on the room availability. Anyone else submitting a reservation request will receive an automated decline message from the room.

Let’s take an example: Conference Room: CTBerlinMainWestCRW001@matfessconsulting.com 

You’ll connect to Exchange Online from your PowerShell window and run a command called Set-CalendarProcessing against that room mailbox.

There’s 3 parameters you’ll want to include:
AutomateProcessing – basically this is saying to have the room either accept/decline the reservation if it meets other requirements. If you don’t set this to AutoAccept, the room won’t do anything when you send it a reservation request
AllBookInPolicy – this is either enabling/disabling all users to submit reservation requests to this room. For the purposes of a restricted conference room we will set this to false.
BookInPolicy – this is where you would submit a list of comma separated users that have the ability to reserve this room. This can also be a Distribution List or Mail-Enabled Security Group (recommended)

When you tie it all together, here’s the full command to make a conference room restricted:

Set-CalendarProcessing -Identity “CTBerlinMainWestCRW001” -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept -AllBookInPolicy $false -BookInPolicy “jared@matfessconsulting.com”

So there you have it – a restricted conference room! A small recommendation to improve the user experience would be to update the display name to include (RESTRICTED) so that other users know it’s restricted. Alternatively, you can always set a MailTip which would be displayed similarly to an Out of Office message prior to the user submitting the reservation request. This appears in both OWA as well as the Outlook client.

Example:

MailTip.JPG
See TechNet article for additional Set-CalendarProcessing parameters:
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd335046(v=exchg.160).aspx