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How to Design the Perfect Event Floor Plan for Small Spaces

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Event planning can be a fun and dynamic job, as long as you have the right skills. The best event planners are close to social butterflies who can charm their customers with their positive and open personalities. 

However, you also need to have an analytical mind, geared towards planning and working with lists, in order to keep everything that’s needed for an event under control. Let’s take floor planning as an example – the floor plan design ensures the guests will have a good time without bumping into each other every time they leave their seats.

Plus, if the space is small, the floor plan design becomes even more important because it will tell you the maximum number of participants the venue can accommodate, so everyone feels comfortable. 

In today’s guide, we will have a look at some of the best practices for a well-organized floor plan when the available space is rather small.

Wedding reception table banquet

1. Measure everything twice

If the event you are managing is in an unfamiliar location, you need to find the best way to discover its pros and cons (and maybe a few secrets along the way).

The size and orientation of the room, access paths, distance to the restrooms, and other important aspects can make or break the positive atmosphere.

While most venues will provide the size of the room(s) and capacity, it’s best if you can check out the space in person.

If not, ask for a detailed blueprint of the floor plan (or a digital map), so you can make an idea with regards to orientation, furniture placement, and other items that are of importance for the event (stage, bar, and more). 

If you work with a venue floor plan software, reach out to the venue and ask if they have any digital layouts you can import into your platforms. If this is the case, it will be easier to build a diagram of the seating system and get an idea of the flow of the guests.

2. What’s the goal of the event?

Whether it’s a wedding, a university awards reception, or a business gathering, the event needs to have a specific goal. So, before you start planning, find out the organizer’s intentions with regards to the event – what do they want their guests to take from it?

For instance, if it’s a wedding, the goal should be that everyone has a good time. On the other hand, if it’s a fundraising event the organizer may also want to include their brand awareness campaign in the list of goals.

Once you know the main goals of the event, it will be easier to plan everyone’s experience around them. If the goal is raising brand awareness, guests should feel encouraged to interact with the brand while having an amazing time that will be difficult to forget.

3. Think from the audience’s POV

Have you ever been to an event where the seating was so terribly done that you had to stare at someone’s back of the head (the person sitting in front of you) the whole time? If yes, then you know how frustrating it can get!

When planning the floor plan design, always try to place yourself in the audience and test the experience – can you see the main event (stage, newlyweds table, speaker, trainer) without having to shift your position? If not, you should work on the seating arrangement until it fits everyone’s needs.

Small spaces are best for events such as panel discussions, training sessions, or speaking engagements since you can arrange the chairs as needed. Round and u-shaped seating systems are the most common arrangement for smaller events because it places the speaker in the center and everyone can see them.

4. Leave room for navigation

Guests are not extremely happy about sitting still in a chair for a couple of hours. They will move around, network with other guests, try to get to talk with the speaker/trainer/newlyweds, go to take a breather, and so on. 

This movement is good for the event because you don’t want a bored audience. However, when the space is small, it can be difficult to find the perfect seating arrangement and leave room for movement. And yet, you have to find a way – aisles and traffic routes are not just there for the guests’ comfort; there’s also a safety aspect that needs to be considered.

Professional event planners design the seating chart and the traffic routes and isles together to avoid creating bottlenecks where people would crowd trying to get from one side of the room to the other.

5. Keep ADA compliance in mind

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, access to the event must be ensured for all types of guests, including people with disabilities. For this, the venue must provide ramps for guests in wheelchairs or with medical support equipment and enough room for people in wheelchairs to move around and sit at the table. 

You may also have to invite a sign language translator and add the furniture needed for their position (usually, it’s a podium) into your plan. Overall, it’s important to make sure all types of guests have access to the event. 

If, by any chance, the event takes place in a building that doesn’t have to comply with ADA standards, send a notice to all the guests and inform them of the situation.

6. Do a final check

Thorough planning is the very foundation of every well-designed business strategy, but it’s also the recipe for success used by many event planners. However, the best of the best have another ace in their sleeve – the double-check!

Even with the best software platforms and tools, it can be easy to forget or misplace something during planning. Oftentimes, the thing you forget becomes the highlight of the event and can ruin everyone’s good time. 

To avoid such a disastrous outcome, always do a final check once you complete a stage in the planning project. Also, when you reach the final stage, do a double final check to make sure everything will go as planned. And don’t forget to have a plan B as well!

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