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By Devon Maresco
Some of the biggest expos in the world draw tens of thousands of people over the span of just a day or two. In 2019, San Diego’s Comic Con saw 130,000 attendees from more than 30 countries. Similarly, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago brings in crowds of more than 100,000 people each year. At this scale, it’s imperative for even the largest event spaces to engage in conference center stack planning.
Stack planning is an essential part of the pre-event planning process. At the world’s big conference centers, it ensures administrators account for multiple rooms, floors, and buildings during the space allocation process. And, done right, stack planning can ensure a more accessible, navigable, accommodating event for attendees and exhibitors alike.
Here’s a look at conference center stack planning and how it factors into the arduous process of establishing some of the world’s biggest expos and events.
What is conference center stack planning?
An event stack plan is the top-down, broad-scope view of space allocation. It shows space in context, through a variety of different lenses. What’s the total square footage of the event center’s atrium? What percentage of total presentation space is devoted to the auditorium? How much total available square footage is there in Building D? The stack plan yields answers to these questions and many more like them.
Stack planning for conference centers comes down to using this broad-scope stack data to better-orchestrate facilities and allocate space. If the main event space is at 110% capacity, what peripheral spaces are available? If you’re expecting a turnout of 50,000 attendees, what’s the occupancy of Building A vs. Building B? Stack planning puts the top-down view of space to work, to find solutions for the best allocation and organization of space.
For larger events spanning multiple rooms, floors, and buildings, an accurate stack plan is an invaluable piece of event organization—especially as variables change.
Benefits of stack planning for conference centers
Using a stack plan to create an informed conference floor plan delivers an exceptional range of benefits. At a high level, event organizers gain access to benefits unlocked by better awareness of space availability. Some of the biggest benefits that accompany stack planning for conference centers include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of attendees and exhibitors
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility
The stack plan contextualizes space in whatever capacity is most important for event planners at the moment. Trying to find space to house more paying exhibitors? Need to comply with building codes and event safety guidelines? Unsure of you have the right facilities available for a specific need? The stack plan sheds light on pertinent information. Then, stack planning bridges the gap between opportunity and need.
How does conference center stack planning software help?
There is no stack plan without conference center stack planning software. Big events take shape so quickly and have so many moving parts that it’s virtually impossible to understand space allocation without a digital sync. Software can process the inputs and manage floor plans in real-time, to ensure the stack plan is current whenever organizers need to reference it.
Sandboxing capabilities also make stack plan software a worthwhile tool in planning events. The ability to change a wide array of variables within a dynamic stack plan to see the effects, then revert them to a baseline model, saves organizers innumerable headaches. It’s the difference between proactive problem-solving and putting out fires as they manifest during event setup.
Stack planning is also made more insightful by software. Easily attach cost centers, budget targets, revenue totals, occupancy and capacity information, and more to a stack plan to gain even more context about how space is working in favor of the event. Organizers have the integrations and data they need to make informed decisions about how, where, why, when, and what to engage in when stack planning—no matter what lens they’re looking through.
Stack plans set the tone for space allocation at events
When you’re managing hundreds or thousands of exhibitors and creating a floor plan designed to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people, a stack plan is imperative. The ability to see space at a macro level makes it easy to coordinate a cohesive event floor plan, no matter how large or complex the event is. With different lenses through which to view space, event organizers can quickly assess and reallocate as they identify the need for space at an event.
Stack planning isn’t just for the world’s biggest expos, either. From auto shows to trade shows, multi-day conferences to industry association events, a stack plan makes it easy to take a top-down look at any event and make sure it’s using facilities effectively.
Keep reading: Conference Center Space Planning Software Benefits