One of the biggest challenges when searching for a venue is figuring out how much space you need to hold your event. There are many different factors you have to take into account to calculate just how much space you need. A lot will depend on the type of meetings you’ll be holding. For example, a room with tables, such as for a banquet or trade show booths will require more space than a room with chairs and a podium.

First Steps

Visit the Venue

Once you know approximately how many people might attend your event, you’ll want to physically visit the venue. Not all 2000 square foot rooms are equal. How columns are places and other elements can greatly impact your ability to fully utilize the space.

Pick the Meeting Planner’s Brain

Each venue typically has a meeting planner who can give you insider tips. Remember that this person has organized hundreds of events, unless the venue is very new. That means that she can also offer you tips on things such as the best place to put the front of the room. How many chairs can comfortably fit in the room without it being overcrowded and so on.

What Is Capacity?

Commercial venues have a big advantage – the local fire marshal has likely already set a maximum occupancy for meeting rooms. You can use that as a guideline for the most people who can be in that room safely. However, that is only one factor to consider. Safe doesn’t necessarily mean comfortable and you’ll need to factor in tables, chairs, display tables and other items that take up extra space.

Rule of Thumb Formulas

Once you’ve factored in the items mentioned above, there are some formulas you can use that will give you a general idea of how much space you need.

Standard seating with a stage area at the front:

  • 50 people or fewer: 11-12 square feet per person
  • 300 people or fewer: 10-11 square feet per person
  • Over 300 people: 10 square feet per person

Banquets with tables and buffets:

  • Plan on 13 square feet per person, more if you have a large buffet area or exhibit space

Classroom set up:

  • 50 or fewer people: 20-22 square feet per person
  • 300 or fewer: 19-20 square feet per person
  • 300 or more: 18 square feet per person

Standing room:

  • Plan on 8-9 square feet per person
  • Don’t forget to tack on space for buffet tables

Note that the estimates above don’t include exhibit space, snack tables, etc. In addition to the space per person, you’ll need to make sure you have space for these items. Calculate the size of the item, such as a table and two to three feet around if people will be going down either side buffet style or down three sides if the table will be up against a wall.

Out of all the formats, standing receptions are probably the most budget friendly. However, these don’t work for every type of event, and some people get tired standing for long periods. You’ll want to offer a mix of different types of setups at your event if at all possible.

Need more help? Banquet Tables Pro has a handy calculator you can use to figure out approximately how much space you might need.

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