Planning a meeting in Las Vegas or attending a convention in Las Vegas and having to organize satellite events?
Making Your Event Work for You
If the focus of your event is for attendees to watch or listen to a lecture or presentation, several options can suit your needs. Classroom seating at rectangular tables is ideal if attendees are expected to take notes or spread out materials for reference. It directs all attention to the front and is one of the most efficient uses of space, but it limits attendee interaction and group synergy. Similarly, theater seating maximizes the use of space, but note taking becomes less convenient and attendee interaction is limited even more.

For a friendlier feel with smaller groups, consider the Chevron style of seating, which angles chairs and tables toward the front of the room in a V shape. This allows attendees to see more of each other’s face while still keeping the focus on the front of the room. Lastly, for a front-of-the-room focus combined with a more social aspect or if food is being served, a good setup is crescent seating, which puts guests at round banquet tables but only at half or three-quarters of the table with all chairs facing forward.

Smaller, formal meetings and events that require more interaction among attendees are better served by other seating setups. For example, conference seating puts all chairs around a single large table, often round. This promotes open conversation and interaction between all attendees as each person can see everyone else and there is room to place materials on the table. If one large table is not available, a similar setup is hollow square seating, which accomplishes the same as conference seating but with multiple tables made into a large square. For meetings that have a presentation component but attendees are expected to discuss matters with each other, a U-shape seating setup is ideal. It allows participants to face each other while still leaving an open space for the presenter or facilitator to “take the stage.”

Lastly, when food is involved in a social atmosphere like a wedding or other sit-down dinner for a large group, the best setup remains banquet seating, which places 8–12 people at a round table so they can enjoy the food while interacting with each other throughout the meal.

There are other options beyond these tried-and-true configurations. As the industry drifts away from lecture-based formats to embrace more engaged, participatory models, seating setups are changing as well. This goes for socially focused events as well as other meetings for business. The more fluid and less rigid lounge setup is becoming more popular in many different formats with the goal of creating conversation zones. Ways to do this include sofa seating and small tables with intimate seating arrangements, which not only are more comfortable but encourage relaxed conversation. For a more comfortable sense of collaboration and community, these setups don’t need to follow a set pattern as long as the pieces are placed aesthetically throughout the space with a natural flow.

Really, the seating setup you choose largely depends on the purpose of the function, but whatever arrangement you select, just remember that perspective is everything.

Importance of site inspections

When booking a venue or hotel for a function, one of the most important things to do before you finalize any contracts is a site inspection. Although the place might looking stunning on its glossy website full of impressive statistics and glamorous professional photographs, there really is no substitute for actually seeing the space with your own two eyes. The following provides a brief overview of what to do and what to look out for before you sign on the dotted line.

Naturally the first place to start is on the facility’s website so you can get a baseline of what you can expect to find there. This is very helpful because once you’re at the venue, if it doesn’t meet your expectations, that could be a red flag.

When you go to the venue for the actual site inspection, make sure you take with you a few important things. First of all, bring a camera. You’re a busy person with a lot on their plate so remembering every detail of the space is somewhat unrealistic. Plus, you probably won’t be in the space very long at this time. Take several photos of the space from different angles and of any unique or significant features. Later on, you can review them on your own time while comparing them to those from other venue candidates. Also, if you do book the space, the photos can help when planning décor, lighting or other setup details. If possible, it also is helpful to bring another pair of eyes with you; the other person may notice aspects you do not.

If you plan to have the event catered at that venue, eat a meal or sample on-site catering menus. A quality kitchen will accommodate you and be proud of what they serve. If you’re doing a site inspection at a hotel to book a block of rooms for a large group of attendees, stay there at least one night and engage in activities your attendees might as well. Order room service at different times of the night or day, arrange for a wake-up call or request additional towels to test out the quality of the services and the responsiveness of the staff. Keep notes about your experiences.

Also use the site inspection to make personal contact with any key personnel with whom you will work during the preparation and execution of the event. Important people to meet may include a general manager, hotel concierge, security director, head chef or in-house event manager. Putting faces to names adds a personal touch and can serve you well throughout the event, especially if issues arise and you need their assistance. At this time, it also is appropriate to discuss possible discounts, throw-ins and what is possible to execute with your budget and expectations. Try to get the best value you can, but remember to be ethical, honest and realistic in your requests. Furthermore, you may not see any now, but it is important to find out if the property has any planned renovations that could interfere with your event.

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