When you’re looking to hold an event, one of the biggest considerations is where the audience are going to sit and being told about the venue table layout options, and why different versions have different seating capacities! To do this it’s really useful to know if it’s mainly for a dinner around a table, for an information talk, or for education purposes, or even a combination of all often seen for breakfast and lunch meetings.
Different configurations can be made to allow viewing of a stage and screen, or for group discussions. Sometimes the main element of the event is a celebration.
Theatre layout originates from actual theatre layouts where the audience are facing a stage and the main focus is on the stage
Classroom Layout is a slight variation on Theatre, it can be for smaller audience numbers needing to write on a desk
Banquet Style is typically for dinners and evening celebration, where entertainment is coming around round tables, but the main focus is dinner.
Cabaret Style is often seen for breakfast and Lunchtime meetings and events where there is an element of focus on the screen / projector and stage, perhaps there are some keynote speakers , but also included is some education where the table is useful to write, and then also a buffet lunch to conclude.
When planning on your event table venue layout it is important to identify the real purpose of the seating. Is it a dinner only, where people are around tables? Is it a table food service but with a stage such as an awards, you could consider the venue being set for a cabaret style in the morning for training and then switch to banquet style for evening dinner.
For a simple training or information event a classroom layout is bet to consider when delegates need to write or need a surface to work on, whereas a theatre style is good for entertainment or information only without anything, such as at the theatre!
We have catered for many events which start as a Theatre layout in the day and transforms to a cabaret layout in the evening for a dinner awards however additional equipment may need to be setup and ready to switch around for the evening, this can often add to the cost, number of crew to perform the transformation and time needed between one event finishing and the other starting.
Gone are the days of trying to reach max capacity of a venue to remain cost effective, we all remember being crammed into a venue barely being able to escape for breaks and huge waits to move from one room to the next.
Because of Covid new assessments need to be carried out to assess the risk based on many factors. Due to the advice changing so frequently it’s hard to give a definite this is right and that is wrong. We’ll try and highlight some useful pointers to help assist planning, and they seem to be fairly common sense. Bubbles seems to be the way forward, either family or work being clumped together spaced from other groups creating an isolation to minimise too much interaction. This could be created in a pretty pragmatic way for example a bubble is a table, however you must consider the distance including behind from other tables. You may need to provide a one way system around tables to minimise any ‘pinch points’ or areas likely to become crowded. Having advanced knowledge of the size of bubbles helps greatly in the style of theatre layout as you can efficiently place larger and small groups making best use of the space. The problem occurs where you do not know the bubble size, and suddenly a group of 3 people is forced into the only left seats being for a group of 6, thus leaving 3 empty spaces on top of the already reduced layout. Likewise if there is only a group of 4 chairs left and the party is a group of 6 then this creates now instead of 1 bubble, 2 bubbles a 4 and 2 which must be kept apart from other bubbles.
I think personally the best way to provide an efficient covid reduced capacity while still maintaining good use of the space will require prior preparation and knowing the numbers of people and the bubbles they’re in before the event with clear concise signage to reduce starting delay or issues of mixing.