Designing the perfect seating chart for your event can often be complicated. The goal is to create a practical and comfortable seating arrangement that suits your event while keeping guests and attendees engaged. For most event planners, this means balancing a number of factors.
Different events have different requirements, which will all affect the type of seating plan you’ll want to use.
Here are our tips on how to design the ideal seating chart for your next event once you’ve found the perfect venue!
Factors to Consider
The number of attendees you expect at your event will factor heavily into the seating chart you choose. You need to make sure everyone can be accommodated comfortably, and it’s also a good idea to plan for additional guests who didn’t pre-register or RSVP.
Generally speaking, the smaller the event, the more options you will have. Because you won’t be as worried about maximizing the floor space, you can be more flexible with your seating layout or table seating chart.
Will there be food at the event? If so, will it be buffet style or served? If it will be buffet style you will want to have a pre-planned order of which tables will get up to get their food first so that you can minimize lines and people with hot plates of food trying to squeeze past those headed to the buffet.
When designing a seating plan, you’ll sometimes be limited by the layout or floor plan of your selected event venue. Consider what types of seating options are available based on the space you’re working with.
Be sure to consider the flow of traffic through the venue space to ensure that there is enough room for guests to move around and navigate the area. In some cities/towns the fire marshall will request that you submit your floor plan to ensure that you are leaving the required fire alleys open in the venue. There’s often a requirement for how many feet you must leave around fire exits too.
The purpose of your event is another key component in creating an ideal seating plan. For example, will guests need to interact or will they mainly be watching a presentation? Will they need to take notes or have somewhere to place the materials they receive? Will you need an area for food and beverage or will food be served to the guests at their tables? Do they need power at their table for a computer?
These are some important questions to consider when planning your event and designing your seating chart so it is both practical and effective.
Use an Online Tool
In order to visualize your seating plan and design simply, use an event seating software.
This type of tool, often included with broader event management software, can be essential when creating your seating chart as it saves time and helps you determine the best seating arrangement for your event. Once you’ve launched your ticket sales, it will also allow you to track data such as which seats have been purchased.
With Accelevents’s reserved seating tool, you’ll be able to build your venue, manage your seating chart, and easily create and assign different ticket types or pricing tiers. Your guests will then be able to select their seats when they purchase their tickets online. It’s easy to learn and integrates with other aspects of the software, allowing you to easily manage your attendee list, process payments, and more.
Types of Seating Plans
Once you’ve considered the factors above, you’ll be ready to choose the type of seating chart to use for your event.
Here’s a quick overview of some different types of seating plans to help you determine which one best suits your event. Keep in mind that most of these can be modified or customized depending on the space you have to work with or your specific event needs.
Theater style is a classic auditorium seating plan but can also be used on a smaller scale. This setup is ideal if your event revolves around a presentation or keynote speaker as it is not an interactive or collaborative setup.
Bear in mind that this setup is not ideal for an event serving food and beverage other than light bites as the guests won’t have anywhere to put their plates.
Classroom style setup is similar to theater-style, but includes the addition of tables in front of each row of seats. This setup is often ideal for events like conferences where guests will be attending presentations but may also receive handouts or need to take notes. If your attendees will be taking notes all day you may need to setup a couple of power strips in each row so that people can plug-in their laptops.
As indicated by the name, a u-shape setup involves several tables put together to form the letter “U”. This layout is most often used for smaller meetings or events where there may be a speaker or a screen at the front of the room and where attendees may need to discuss topics and interact with each other and the presenter. In both a Classroom and U-Shaped configuration it’s common to see a microphone setup at each seat for larger rooms. This generally makes sense for events of 75 or more participants where you want to give everyone the opportunity to speak.
Boardroom style, also known as conference style, is what you would expect in a typical boardroom. It consists of one large table surrounded by chairs on all sides. Choose this option to create an interactive environment for smaller meetings or breakout sessions where attendees will need to be in a more intimate setting and able to discuss topics among themselves.
A banquet style consists of round tables surrounded by chairs set up throughout the room. This setup is typically used for gala dinners, weddings, and other special events where guests will be served a meal. However, it can also be used for conferences or corporate events where attendees will be broken up into small groups for team building exercises, etc.
Cabaret-style, which can also be referred to as crescent rounds, is basically banquet style with chairs only around half of the tables, like at a cabaret. This setup is not the most efficient way of utilizing space, so it can be limiting if you have a large number of guests. However, it can be a great option if a meal is being served and there will also be some sort of presentation or show as guests will be able to pay attention without having to turn their chairs.
As an event planner, choosing the right seating plan and making a seating chart is an important step in the planning process. Getting it right can set the tone for the event and make sure your guests are happy and comfortable. For more information on the other steps involved in planning a successful event, check you our ultimate event planning checklist!