Planner Sourcing Guide: Chapter 8: Creating the perfect event design

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The Essential Planner Guide to Sourcing

Chapter 8: Creating the perfect event design

When an event floor plan is designed well, guests don’t notice. Their focus is exactly where it should be – on enjoying the event.

When floor plans are designed poorly, it’s all guests notice. Attendees are cramped, uncomfortable, confused, or a bit lost. Guests may have trouble reaching their seats, get boxed in, or even feel exasperated because they can’t see the speaker.

We have expert planning tips to help you create the perfect event design.

Event Floor Plan Design

1. Know your event space

Knowing the specifications and layout of the event space is essential. Planners must work with the hotel or venue that they have contracted their space with in order to understand their event space, especially when exploring new venues.

Planners should reach out to their event venue and ask them to share digital event space layouts if they have them in order to best plan.

2. Get your headcount early

Determine the number of people attending the event. Get this number as early as possible in the planning process in order to avoid issues. A smaller corporate event benefits from a floor plan design that draws guests together and facilitates networking.

Top tip
Establish the importance of a final headcount at the project kick-off meeting with planning team members and clients.

3. Create a set-up with optimal sightlines

Nobody wants to show up to a panel discussion or a ceremony only to find they can’t see the action. Rows upon rows of seats, one immediately behind the other at the same level, is a recipe for frustrated attendees.

Consider these tips and floor plan layout options for unobstructed views:

  • Panel discussions and lectures benefit from a room layout that includes a dais or stage, or stadium seating 
  • Stagger seats so guests look between the shoulders of the people directly in front of them rather than at the back of their heads 
  • In-the-round or U-shaped seating with the ceremony, speaker, or demonstration situated in the middle is an excellent option for smaller events 
  • Put space between attendees and the speaker. More people can see when there’s a small buffer of empty space panel guests and the audience 
  • It should go without saying, but video screens and whiteboards should be large and set high enough so the people in the back can see as clearly as those up front

4. Customize event A/V for superb sound

Audio equipment layouts are an essential element of event floor plans, particularly at larger venues. The best audio setups are unobtrusive and customized for the specifics of the event layout, such as low ceilings that impact the acoustics, or overflow wings or rooms that require dedicated speakers.

Importantly, audio equipment and cables must be situated so they don’t create trip hazards.

Additionally, pay attention to the location and mic setup of live musicians and singers. At large-scale events, musicians situated away from the action may barely register with your guests, while bands with amplifiers set too loud can become the focus of the event when they should be the supporting act.

Top tip
Take a cue from the theater and do a sound check before the event to make sure everyone can hear, but it’s not too loud.

5. Make guests comfortable with more moving room

More is usually better when it comes to space between tables and chairs at an event. Guests should feel they can push out their chairs and stand up without inconveniencing neighbors or bumping people behind them.

In theater-type seating layouts, guests in the middle should have room enough to get to the aisle without practically sitting in strangers’ laps or knocking into the backs and shoulders of the people in the row in front of them.

Create wider aisles for easy room navigation by caterers, the Master of Ceremonies, performers, and special guests.

6. Plan out high-traffic routes

People mill around at events. Attendees finding their seats, speakers getting to the podium, award recipients reaching the stage, people searching for the restrooms—guests are constantly in motion.

Create routes for every activity through the event and clarify the best routes with directions from event staff, helpful signage, and intuitive room layouts.

Layout tips for smooth guest movements during events:

  • Place extra space between tables near exit doors.
  • Establish a clear route between honored guests, speakers, or award recipients and the microphone or stage.
  • Give instructions to special guests so they understand where they need to go and the best route.
  • Leave space around the dance floor.

7. Focus on accessibility issues to ensure ADA compliance

Accessible event floorplans are a legal and ethical imperative for event planners. Accessibility issues in event floor planning include:

  • Ramps for guests in wheelchairs
  • Space at tables for guests in wheelchairs or with medical support equipment
  • Podium for American Sign Language translators
  • Accessible exits
  • Wide aisles for people with wheelchairs, canes, and medical support equipment
  • Wheelchair lifts and elevators to stage

Top tip
Certain historical/older locations are not required to meet all ADA standards. It’s important to communicate with clients about the limitations of the venue for people with disabilities.

8. Keep fire and safety precautions on the radar

Event floor plans must prioritize guest and employee safety at all times, and venues should meet local codes and have safety protocols in place.
Discuss safety measures with venue managers, and develop a sharp eye for problems, such as locked or blocked exit doors, poor lighting, and trip hazards.

9. Streamline layouts with event floor plan software

With an event diagramming tool, much of the above becomes fast work. Event diagramming and floor plan software enable venues and planners to map event layouts quickly while adjusting for sightlines, crowd flow, and comfort.

Event designers can use the floor plan software to build customized layouts from scratch, tailor existing templates, and upload existing arrangements offered by tech-savvy venues. Cvent Social Tables floor plan maker enables 3D mockups of event layouts for virtual walkthroughs and early troubleshooting.

10. Do a final walkthrough before the event

Even if you use floor plan design software, a real-world walkthrough of the venue is necessary when all tables, chairs, booths, and event equipment are in their places. An in-person walkthrough is the best way to determine if anything is off kilter—which is inevitable even with the most detailed layout designs.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Choosing Your Perfect Destination

Chapter 2: Finding the Perfect Venue

Chapter 3: Writing the Perfect RFP

Chapter 4: Evaluating Hotel Proposals

Chapter 5: Making the Most of Your Site Visit

Chapter 6: Negotiating with Hotels

Chapter 7: Finding success with room block management

Chapter 8: Creating the perfect event design