To many event organisers, seating is often an afterthought and doesn’t get much consideration in comparison to the venue, the schedule of events and styling. However, the seating arrangement can have a huge impact on guest engagement and interaction. Barlens is Australia’s leading event hire company, helping to create exceptional events since 1965. Whether you are hosting an intimate wedding in a marquee or large scale conference or training event, choosing the right seating layout can make all the difference. Read on to find out which seating arrangement might be best for your next event.
Why is Seating Important?
The right layout is important as it plays a major role in determining the overall guest experience of an event. Whether you are looking to create a learning environment, encourage networking, or enable proper interaction or mingling, the seating layout can either help or hinder your objectives.
Choosing The Best Seating Arrangement
There are many ways that seating can be arranged, from traditional styles to unique methods. When deciding on the best arrangement for your event, there are a number of things you need to consider:
- The number of guests or attendees
- The available space
- The objectives for event – for corporate events you may want engagement and networking over capacity while for conferences you might need to prioritise comfort and stage views. For social events such as weddings, you may need to find a balance between guest interaction, comfort and views.
- The available decor and furniture – you may need to consider working with an event hire company to ensure you have the right chairs.
- Any planned activities – do you need breakout zones for relaxation or space for team-building exercises?
- Health and safety - the seating layout must ensure the room is safe and that the venue can be evacuated quickly in case of an emergency.
Traditional Seating Layouts
The most common room setups for events include:
Theatre - Commonly used for conferences, presentations, wedding ceremonies and performances, all chairs are set up in straight rows facing a central focal point such as a stage. A great layout for fitting in as many guests into a space as possible, however it can hinder movement and guest interaction and doesn’t allow space for note taking or for consumption or serving of any food or beverage.
Classroom - Ideal for events where note-taking is required such as medium sized conferences, training events and sales meetings, this layout sees attendees seated on chairs in rows behind tables facing the central presentation area.
Cabaret - This layout is perfect for events which include meals with presentations or performances such as award ceremonies, luncheons and gala dinners. Guests are seated around round tables, with one section of the table that doesn’t offer seating – this allows for guests have a clear view of the presentation area whilst still being able to enjoy the social benefits offered by round tables.
Banquet – Similar to cabaret, except guests are seated the whole way around the tables. Ideal for dinner based events, weddings and those that don’t require attendees to be always focused on a central point in the room. This layout can make it difficult for guests to interact with guests on other tables, however this can be a great advantage if you are aiming for people to interact in small groups and get to know each other.
U-Shape - This style arranges seating and long tables in a horseshoe design or U-shape. Popular for training, conferences, workshops, and board meetings with presentations, the open end allows for a presentation area and it enables the speaker to engage with each audience member. Tables allow space for notetaking and food and beverages, and guests facing each other further promotes engagement and interaction.
Cocktail – Utilising small bar tables and generally no chairs or scattered bar stools, this arrangement is the most efficient use of floor space and great if you need to accommodate a large number of guests. Perfect for short events, networking events and social events such as weddings and parties, this layout offers the greatest opportunity for guests to mingle and interact with one another.
As cocktail seating arrangements don’t include much actual seating, you might want to consider a lounge area as well for guests that would require seating.
Mixed Seating – While not a traditional option, if you are wanting to put a unique twist on your seating layout, consider using multiple seating styles. This allows you create zones and customise each zone accordingly. Create a theatre style area for a wedding ceremony or presentation with a cocktail zone for informal drinks. Use a mix of round, square, and rectangular tables to create a more interesting seating layout and accommodate extra seats at your wedding or event.
Selecting the right seating layout can really enhance your event and make it one to remember for all the right reasons. Depending on the type of event and the space you have available, there are endless seating options available.
For all your event hire needs, contact the team at Barlens today. With over 50 years’ experience supplying high quality equipment and supplies for events all over Australia, if you need a marquee, décor, furniture or flooring for a wedding, party or corporate event, we have an affordable solution for you. Browse our range online or give us a call on (02) 6206 2020 or (02) 6043 0605.