by Michael Shapiro | December 20, 2012

AllSeated, an online service that consolidates guest-list and floor-planning tools, really needs to be seen in action. Among the many technology-related press releases I receive, this one, at first, went in to my "might be useful" pile; the demo, however, convinced me that AllSeated is a well-designed, robust piece of technology that can truly aid in planning and collaboration. Plus, it's free -- to planners, venues, event hosts and vendors.

Designed by Israel-based developers, AllSeated began as a project to assist an in-house employee with wedding plans. And to some extent, it is still wedding-centric -- co-founder Daniel Anisman often referred to the event host as "the bride" during our demo -- but the platform is equally applicable to charity galas and corporate events, with some interface tweaks applied to cater to each event type. AllSeated officially launched at BizBash in November, and its user base has been growing rapidly.

The platform is meant to ease logistical planning efforts among planners, venue representatives and event hosts (or brides, as the case may be) by giving each the ability to log in to a central platform, and to make changes everyone can see in real time. For instance, let's say the planner has booked a wedding at the Plaza in New York. Because the Plaza is already part of AllSeated's inventory, the planner can select from a drop-down menu the appropriate event space within the hotel and bring up a map of the space. There are currently more than 100 venues in the system, and that's growing quickly; if a venue doesn't show up, a planner need only send a request. The AllSeated team generally gets maps and floor plans pretty quickly from each venue requested, and loads them in short order.

If the map is pre-loaded, that's ideal; but if not, that needn't slow down the planner much. Floor plans can still be built from a variety of templates, or designed in custom fashion. It may not reflect the precise layout of a room, but it's one way a planner can get started. And the Floor Plan interface is wonderfully slick, all drag-and-drop convenience; table sizes and shapes can be easily selected and changed, and positioned and repositioned to one's heart's content. AllSeated has been styled based on a lot of venue feedback, and the resulting detail is evident in the Floor Plan tool. All of this resides online -- no downloads are required -- and, in the demo, at least, the tool was very responsive.

Now, based on the restrictions provided by the venue, the ability to change the floor-plan layout may be limited to the venue rep, or just the venue rep and the planner -- but the event host can potentially have access too, leading to a true online collaborative brainstorming effort. The planner sends an email invitation to the event host, who gets access to the event site and subsequently creates a guest list. That list, conveniently, can be either be created within the tool or imported from Facebook, Gmail or an Excel spreadsheet. Guest responses can then be tracked and seen in real time by all interested parties. And, since every aspect of AllSeated is interconnected, table assignments for each guest can also be reflected immediately on the floor plan. Using the interactive floor plan, it's easy to see which tables are filling up and which still have space, and any user can generate reports that reflect such details. Plus, the floor plan can be printed, which is especially useful for other vendors -- caterers, photographers, the setup staff, etc.

AllSeated is also integrating with a growing list of related suppliers -- they won't say who just yet -- but, for instance, an attendee check-in tool has integrated so that on event day, the floor plan can be updated in real time as guests arrive.

The interface design is clean and logical, so that this functionality, as well as a number of additional features, all blend together well without being overwhelming. As useful as the platform appears for pre-event planning, the real-time, collaborative aspect makes perfect sense for on-site use as well. Anisman told me the mobile apps should be ready in about 3 to 4 weeks; there will be native downloads for both Apple iOS and Android devices. This strikes me as a great iPad-based tool for a team to use on-site, assuming the iPad interface is anywhere as slick as the web-based one.

AllSeated is funded by private investors, and Anisman said that money won't be an issue for at least a couple of years. That's good, because at this point the tool has no revenue stream -- it's free for everyone to use. The group's primary focus is to introduce the product to the mass market and to grow the venue database. As that grows, along with the number of registered planners and event hosts, "event marketplace" opportunities to connect people will open up, according to Anisman, and with that a number of potential money-making models.