Have you ever moved into a venue feeling all confused, frustrated, and irritated?
The instructions aren't clear, there are no seating layouts. To make it worse, the countdown for the event has started, and you still have no idea where your seat is at.
This is what happens when event planners don’t know how to create a seating plan.
Being an event planner, you don't want your guests to go through these negative emotions. It not only dampens the event experience but your capabilities as an event planner are also questioned.
That is exactly why we are here with tried and tested tips to help you create a flawless seating plan.
A. Popular seating arrangements
Before knowing the best practices for event planning seating arrangements, it is important to know the different types of seating arrangements-
- Banquet style seating
Banquet style seating is a classic seating arrangement that gathers small groups around round tables with 6-8 guests per table. This seating style involves multiple tables that are spread across the event space. For best results, you can group attendees who are familiar with each other such as family members or co-workers, or group them according to shared interests such as hobbies or project goals.
This arrangement of seating encourages your guests to interact with each other. Make sure to seat important guests like VIPs, or special guests in the middle of the room so that they get the focus and attention.
- Awards shows or galas
- Charity dinners
- Corporate celebrations
- Wedding receptions
- Encourages communication and rapport building within certain groups
- Great for socializing, networking, and relaxing
- Limits interaction with people at different tables
- Can lead to group formation
- Family style seating
This event seating plan features a long banquet style table and benches/chairs and encourages a communal style of eating and socializing. This seating arrangement is suitable only when you have ample space and makes for stunning photos while creating an intimate atmosphere.
- Wedding receptions
- Company awards night
- Informal events
- Looks sophisticated and impressive in pictures
- Creates an informal, intimate, and relaxed atmosphere
- Limited opportunity for networking
- People who are away from the front may struggle to see
- Cabaret style seating
Cabaret style event seating plan is similar to banquet-style seating but more compact. It typically features round tables with guests seated on one side so everyone can have a clear view of the presenter. It is an ideal arrangement to achieve the feel of banquet seating but with fewer guests.
It also works well for events combining presentations with group work. If you want to go for this type of event planning seating arrangements you will need a large venue to pull this off so that the floor space can be utilized perfectly.
- Award nights
- Gala dinners or similar events.
- Great for formal occasions and celebrations
- Creates a fun and relaxing atmosphere
- Can limit interaction and networking with people outside of one’s table
- As tables have fewer seats it can result in reduced seating capacity for guests.
- Classroom style seating
Classroom style seating refers to rectangular tables set up in the style of a classroom. It makes a great option for sessions with presentations and is speaker-led. The classroom setting makes it easier for participants to write notes or use a laptop. However, since participants don’t face each other directly, it can lead to limited interaction.
- Training sessions
- Comfortable for taking notes
- Ideal arrangement for corporate settings like seminars, meetings, and so on.
- Barrier to natural interaction as guests don’t face each other
- Is only ideal for a specific setting like a meeting, training, seminar, or similar
- Conference/boardroom-style seating
Conference or boardroom style seating features one long table in the center of a smaller room where guests sit on either side of the table. One end of the room is the presentation area. The guests or the VIPs usually sit at the head of the table.
- Seminars, meetings, and similar events that require brainstorming
- Encourages discussion and participation as everyone shares the same table
- Better suited for smaller groups
- Can cause discomfort if held for a longer period
- This can lead to noise and chaos as everyone is sharing the same table.
- Auditorium style seating
Auditorium or theater seating style can be seen in a lecture or movie hall. It features rows of chairs or built-in seats parallel to a single point of focus such as a stage or presentation area. Event planners can take advantage of the stage setup by setting up a background that makes an attractive backdrop for photos such as textured fabrics or logo prints.
- Award shows
- Press conferences
- Product demonstrations
- Speaking events or entertainment
- Makes a great event seating plan for large groups, lectures, or speaker series.
- Provides ample room to accommodate large groups of guests as well as offers an established space to display slides, logos, and other branded materials.
- Not ideal for smaller spaces and audiences that require audience participation.
- Sound can be an issue.
- Chevron style seating
Chevron style event seating plan features angled rows with an aisleway in the middle. The key idea is to provide a focal point for the speaker so that everyone can see and hear them well. Event planners can use event planning seating charts to strategically seat participants that you’d like to group for discussions.
- Everyone can have a clear view of the speaker and work in groups
- Maximum utilization of space using angled rows
- Not suitable for large group discussions
- If the seats are staggered properly it can lead to sighting issues
B. Factors to consider for creating the perfect event seating plan
Here are some important factors to consider before you jump on to the seating plan-
- Event purpose
The purpose of your event is central to creating an ideal seating plan. Is it a formal or informal event? Will the attendees watch a presentation? Will they take notes? Do you need to arrange for food? What kind of gadgets and electronics do you need to arrange? Consider important questions like these to make your seating plan both practical and effective.
- Guest count
To ensure everyone gets a comfortable seating experience you first have to determine the number of attendees you are expecting at your event. After getting the final tally for event attendees, you need to scout for options and find out the room capacity of the shortlisted venues.
Make sure to choose a venue that is suitable for your event type and is comfortable for the attendees. If you are planning a large event, please consider the flow of traffic in and around the venue. This is a very important factor that many planners overlook.
Are you providing food at the event? Is it buffet style or served? Make sure to have a pre-planned order at which people at tables will get up to bring their food. This will help you minimize chaos. Plus people with hot plates can also get back to their place without getting squeezed in the crowd.
- Venue layout
Whenever you visit a venue, the first thing you need to do is to ask for a layout. This will help consider the types of seating options available and create your event seating plan accordingly. Ensure there is enough room for guests to move around and keep a display of a copy of the floor plan with all safety exits.
- Event safety regulations
Event safety has to be your top priority especially when you are planning for large events. Be aware of the maximum capacity of the venue and ensure that all the exits are easy to find and fully accessible. Additional regulations may also be applied depending on your venue, so be sure to ask the venue manager about venue-specific guidelines.
- Stage, audio, lighting, and screen
- The stage background should be eye-catching which you can custom make.
- A lectern or podium is recommended for the presenters
- If you are planning a Q&A session, a bigger stage with a head table is recommended.
- No matter how big or small the room is, always use audio speakers to make sure everyone in the room hears comfortably
Lightning and screen
- Use a big screen to make the presentation visible to all the participants
- Some events require multiple screens helping the presenter display two different images at the same time.
C. Best practices for event planning seating arrangements
Creating the perfect event seating plan is not a cakewalk. You have to take care of everyone’s needs and comfort while making sure you get what is desired of them. Here are some super helpful tips to help you create the perfect event seating plan-
i. Understand the venue space
How many people are coming? Are there any venue restrictions? What kind of event are you hosting? Asking important questions like these will help you to narrow down venue choices. Make sure to-
- Always double-check the capacity of the venue that you intend to choose
- Take into consideration the size and shape of the tables
- Avoid seating guests too close to each other
- Determine if the venue has ample space for participants to move around freely
ii. Send invites early
Sending invites early will save you from the hassle of doing the seating plan in a hurry. You will get enough time to work on your event seating plan as soon as the invites are out. This will also allow you to double-check the arrangements as the RSVPs start coming in.
iii. Utilize tools and charts
Planning the seating plan by hand can be tiresome and time-consuming. It is best to use an online tool that helps you to make a seating chart. A virtual floor plan can help you evaluate every little detail to help you with stress-free planning and execution.
Once you are done creating the seating chart, you can create copies and send them to the guests via mail or paste them on the venue itself. Or you can even create sketch tables on a poster with guest names to help guests locate their seats on arrival.
Don’t forget to put important services and where to find them on the chart. This can include a dancefloor or band, restrooms, a buffet, and a bar.
iv. Make your guests feel special
If you want to make your guests keep coming back for more you have to make sure their needs are met. An event seating plan is particularly helpful for pre-empting issues while accommodating guests.
Here are some important things to consider to ensure you meet the varied needs of all guests-
- If it is an informal event like a wedding party, keep the closest family members seated near each other
- Pay special attention to elderly guests. Seat them where they have easy access to exits and aisles
- Keep children or mothers with children and elderly guests away from blaring sounds
- Determine if there are special facilities available for people with disabilities like ramps, wheelchairs, and so on
v. Keep the right people together
According to the type of the event, make sure to group the appropriate people. This can include-
- Family members
- High school friends
- College friends
- Work friends and colleagues
- Colleagues grouped according to workplace
- Ages, interests, and backgrounds
The idea behind this is to accommodate like-minded people together so they enjoy each other's company. Depending on the type of event you can also add new faces to each table. This could be a great way for icebreaker activities.
Also, be sure to consider crucial social elements like corporate rivals, former employees, or separated couples to avoid any unnecessary drama. If the event is more of a formal type, simply let your guests choose where to sit.
vi. Final check
A final check before the event is necessary to confirm everything goes according to plan. Otherwise, if guests decide to pull out at the last minute it can interfere with your seating plan. To avoid confusion it is best to keep in frequent touch with your guests. This can help you to identify any changes in advance and accommodate them accordingly.
Use emails and social media to confirm all guests one week before the event. This will prevent you from having last-minute surprises while completing the seating plan without any error.
To create the perfect and error-free seating plan, you need careful calculations, mindful decision-making, and a tool that provides the right kind of support. Ticket Generator is an all-in-one event management solution that can help you create, register and sell event tickets. It will help you to keep proper track of attendee details to make your event seating plan as effortless as possible.