Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Reception Seating?

[This post is the fifth and final post in a series of pieces looking at the different types of room sets in more detail than we have previously. To finish out the series, we’ll take a look at Reception Seating...]

Reception has its own seating style? Really? Yes, really. In the hospitality industry, receptions have their own seating style. Why? Basically because people take up space even if no chairs or tables are provided. Therefore, in order to know how many people can safely fit into a room for a reception, you need to know how much space a single person needs.

Seven to eight square feet per person is the basic space requirement – and that figure presumes no chairs, no tables, no audio-visual equipment, and no other items (such as decorations) that might take up any space. I typically assume ten square feet per person for receptions so that I have a little space built in to provide some seating, a few highboys (chest high tables to put food and drinks on), and food and beverage tables. My estimate also allows space for minor AV.

So, now that we know the basic space requirement, we can come up with an estimate for how many people can safely be in the room at the same time. However, the more space you use for other things, the less space you will have for people. I know this sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen people try to take a room that holds 100 people maximum, then try to add in a dance floor, a buffet, a DJ, and lots of floor decorations – and still want to get 100 people in there at once. That rarely works. Remember: for every item that takes up floor space, you need to reduce the maximum attendance accordingly.

Ultimately, though, Reception “Seating” is the most flexible of any of the seating styles. You don’t have to provide seats for everyone since you anticipate people mingling (tables and chairs discourage that). You can maximize the use of oddly shaped spaces because you are not fixed into any particular placement for tables. Buffet tables can fit into spaces where you would never be able to fit tables and chairs for a meeting and what few tables and chairs you do provide can go almost anywhere. Unlike other sets, your creativity is limited only by the amount of space available.

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises

View and download a Seating Capacity Chart here.