If you're planning an event but aren't sure which type of event seating plan is right for you, here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide which arrangement will work best for your event:

  •     How many people will be attending your event?
  •     What is the purpose of the event?
  •     Are there any restrictions due to the type of venue selected for the event?
  •     Will the guests need to interact with one another at any point during the event?
  •     Are there any special activities or circumstances that need to be taken into consideration?

Be Aware of All Safety Regulations That May Apply to Your Event

Seating Options for EventsThe event seating plan you select has to respect all safety regulations, for example the maximum capacity of the venue you have selected for your event and that the exits are easy to find and fully accessible. Depending on your venue, there may be additional regulations that you need to be aware of so ask the venue manager or owner about venue specific guidelines.

Number of Guests

The number of guests affect your event seating plan. You must ensure that you have not exceeded the maximum occupancy of the venue (for safety purposes). From there, you will need to make sure that your event seating plan can accommodate the number of guests you plan on having in the most effective way possible. If you are planning a large event, you will also need to consider the flow of traffic. This is very important and often overlooked.

Styles and Layouts

There are many different event seating styles and layouts that can be used and these may have to be customized depending on the needs of your event or the venue space available. But, by taking these basic layouts, you can come up with something that will work for your event.

Which Event Seating Plan Is Right for Your Event?

The theater style layout is used when the guests are purely an audience and little or no interaction is required. It is excellent for events with a large number of guests, but not a good selection if food is being served or if the audience will have to do extensive note taking. When setting up for a theater style there are a number of variations. Here are some options:

  •     Circular rows
  •     Semi-circular rows
  •     Straight rows
  •     Angled rows towards the events focal point

Some other special features you can implement that can make a difference to your guests include the following:

  •     You can offset the rows from one another so that the guests will have a clear view of the focal point.
  •     Leave some room between each chair if banquet chairs are being used as these are typically narrower than the average person’s body.
  •     Allow for a minimum of 24 inches between the rows to make it easier for the guests to get in and get out of their rows.

Getting confused and just want someone to hold your hand through all this? It's okay, you're not alone. That's why CVB's are around. Get a nice intro to what the GLCVB can do to help you right here.

Of course, you will only be able to implement these features if your venue has adequate space. U-Shape Seating Layout Here, a series of conference tables are set-up to create the shape of the letter “U”. The chairs are then placed on the outside of the “U”. This is an excellent style when there are few guests and they have a focal point such as a screen or TV. This is commonly used for director meetings, discussion groups, or other types of committee meetings. This type of layout is excellent for groups of 25 or less and where note-taking and interaction may be required. Classroom Style Seating As you can see in the picture, there are rows of conference tables and the chairs that face one direction towards the front of the room. This event seating style got its name because of its popularity in classrooms and test-taking situations. As a result, it is excellent for events in which a person will need to take notes, receive handouts, or use devises such as a laptop. This is also a good layout if it’s a long event, such as a conference, because it allows the individual to have room for refreshments. However, this is not the best layout if interaction between guests is required. Conference Style (also referred to as “Boardroom Style”) Given the name, this event seating style is used a lot for board meetings and other committee meetings as it encourages interaction between the guests. One table or a set of tables is combined to create one large table in the middle of the room with chairs all around the sides and the ends. This is not a great set-up if there is any kind of presentation as it can be difficult for the guests to have a good view. Banquet Style Often used for weddings or gala dinners, this is an excellent option when food is being served. The caterers use round tables throughout the room with chairs around each table. Keep in mind that some of the guests will have to turn their chairs in order to see the presentation or head table. 
So, your takeaway? A good seating set up is rarely good for every type of event. Based on your needs and the room size here are some solid industry options! Choose the right seating situation and your meeting will be off to a great start! Have questions? Contact one of the friendly Certified Meeting Planners on the staff of the Greater Lansing CVB!