When this question came to me, I went looking for an “official” definition of the terms and found…none. So – I will present my definitions of the terms and, hopefully, a bit more information about each as well…
First off, definitions. How do I define these terms?
Both sets share the fact that you are placing more than one type of seating in the same room; the difference is in how and when they are used.
Split Set: This refers to a room set in which there are multiple types of seating being used at the same time in the same room. For example, I have a group that uses a U-Shape configuration (a variation of Hollow Square) and Classroom seating in the same room at the same time. The members of the group sit at the U-Shape to conduct their business, while the Classroom seating is for observers and staff who are there to support the work being done. Another example would be setting up a convention hall with Classroom seating in the front and Theater seating along the sides and in the back. Everyone there is part of the same session, listening to the same speakers, but they have more than one seating style to choose from.
Double Set: I use this term to refer to a room with more than one set (but usually just two) where the two types of seating are not used at the same time. As an example here, I may request one half of a ballroom to be set up with Classroom seating for the meeting but have the other half set up in Rounds to be used for lunch service. When possible, I will often create a visual barrier with plants or privacy screens to separate the two spaces. Yes, they share the same room but they are used for two different purposes.
As you can see from the examples, there are certainly plenty of times that you might use either a Split Set or a Double Set. But can you do both? Of course you can! In fact, I have done this myself on more than one occasion. The beauty about most meeting spaces at hotels and convention centers is that they can be used in a wide variety of ways – how you use the space is limited only by your imagination (and certain legal codes…).
~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises