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exhibitor q & a




ILLO: MARK FISHER

HELP WANTED
Send your tough
questions about
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Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitor
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Hospitality Seating
My company is hosting a hospitality event in conjunction with our exhibit, and we're planning to have a sit-down dinner. Can you provide seating estimates to help me determine how many tables I need to accommodate all 200 of my guests?


At just about any corporate hospitality event, you want people to figuratively - not literally - rub elbows with one another. So you'll need to strike a balance between making the most of your space (and thus, your budget) and ensuring that everyone is comfortable. With this in mind, follow these standards to estimate the amount of tables and chairs your event will require.

Generally speaking, 42- to 48-inch round tables seat five people, a 60-inch round can handle eight people, and a 72-inch round can accommodate 10 people. So if you're expecting 200 people, you're most likely to use 20, 72-inch rounds.

Keep in mind, however, that if you want your guests to face a stage where you'll offer a presenter or entertainment, a better option would be to remove the two chairs closest to the stage so nobody is sitting with his or her back to it. Thus, in this case, you're looking at about six to eight people per round, depending on the diameter of the table.

Note that event planners rarely use rectangular tables for a dining event. That's because lateral seating options (via rectangular tables) require more space between each setting than do diagonal seating options (via round tables). With diagonal, the further you move out from the table center, the more elbow room attendees have.

But if rectangular tables are a perfect fit for your needs, you can get six people with three on each side around a 72-by-24-inch table. However, that's still a pretty tight fit, since each person will only have a 12-inch depth for his or her place setting of plates, glasses, flatware, etc. Tables measuring 84-by-24 inches and 84-by-30 inches typically can handle eight people, with four on each side comfortably. You'll need 25 large, rectangular tables to handle 200 attendees.

It's usually better to err on the side of caution, and to allow ample space for attendees at the table, especially for a seated meal. You don't want attendees' memory of your event to be clouded by the fact that they felt cramped and confined during a meal.

- Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, independent exhibit project manager/consultant,
Defiance, OH


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