Theatre Manager: Responding to COVID 19

COVID 19 is worldwide problem that has resulted in some strong recommendations from government for people to be careful in, and/or avoid large gatherings. In a number of jurisdictions, this has meant cancelling events, postponing, offering refunds and some possible insurance implications. It is also causing some organizations to permit work-at-home

COVID-19 has affected the arts, entertainment and sports industry, probably more than most. We offer some thoughts how you can address it in Theatre Manager.

 

VERY IMPORTANT: BEFORE REFUNDING PAYMENTS TO CREDIT CARDS...

Please read the rules regarding refunds to credit cards, which are managed by your credit card provider. Theatre Manager does its best to determine which refund rule applies, based on how the card was authorized. If you cannot get refunds working, your merchant provider is the key to unlocking the door.

IF YOU RECEIVE A MESSAGE THAT THERE ARE NO PRIOR PAYMENTS...

if you receive a message from Theatre Manager there are NO PRIOR PAYMENTS when doing a refund, the root cause is because merchant providers have been forcing venues to use linked refunds, meaning they imposed a typical time limit of having to refund within 120 days of purchase.

In these times of crisis, each venue seems to have a different time limit and you can set it in Theatre Manager's Merchant Setup. It may work if you increase the time frame. If not, you may need to talk to the bank to have them raise the timeframe on their end as well.

Working From Home

For those working from home and requiring access to Theatre Manager, you can put tools in place to provide access from outside the office. Working from home via remote access is different based on where the database is hosted in your organization.

Hosting Options:

  • Self-Hosted: your database and web services are on your own internal servers. You need to supply you own remote access tools.
  • Artsman Cloud Hosted: your database is hosted by Artsman. Much simpler remote access, since all people in your company are, in effect, using remote access, no matter where they are located.

Working from home: Venues hosting their own databases

If you are self-hosting your database, where the database serve is located in your office, we recommend using a VPN for secure access and an application such a Remote Desktop, LogMeIn, Go To My PC or TeamViewer. Applications such as these will allow you to access a computer within the office and work from that computers desktop. If you choose to implement a Terminal Server staff can work off the same machine using their own remote session.

Various ways of accessing the database remotely are outlined in Remote Access to Theatre Manager and refers to some considerations to maintain PCI compliance.

Comprehensive Links are provided in the page above, as well as some key technologies below for convenience.

 

Common remote access mechanisms

While there are many vendors of remote access software, the ones that we see used most often are:

  • Using a VPN and local copy of TM for full and secure network access - best used when internet connections are fast
  • Using Microsoft Remote Access (RDP) and Terminal Server for full managed access to TM - best used when internet is marginal/poor or you need to control internal network access
  • Using a remote access tool like TeamViewer, LogMeIn, or similar to simply access your own machine from a remote location. Best when no remote ticket printing is required.

Working from home: Venues using Artsman Cloud

Artsman clients currently using our Cloud Hosting service can connect to their database simply by installing Theatre Manager on their work station, selecting Cloud Hosting and entering their unique key and password. The link for installing Theatre Manager is the same as those provided in the initial email for connecting to Cloud Hosting.

The following three steps indicate how to install on your home computer:

  1. Download and run the latest 64 bit version of Theatre Manager for:
  2. Connect to Artsman Cloud Hosting:
    • follow the steps in the online help page
    • use your company cloud credentials -and-
    • log in using your standard Theatre Manager Employee password when you see the password screen
  3. (Optional) Install any recommended Windows or OSX updates available to your home machine so that you have the latest security patches and virus software definitions. However, stay with your current version. eg:
    • if you are using High Sierra on macOS, just update to latest High Sierra patch.
    • If you are at Mojave, update to latest Mojave patch.
    • Do not update to a more recent OS version like Mojave or Catalina or Windows 7.1 to Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 at this time.
    • This helps ensure that your personal applications still work.
Throughout this period, we will ensure that your cloud services continue with same high level of service and provide support to you during our office hours while you work from home.

Creating Social Distancing Maps

Social Distancing is the conscious effort to reduce close contact between people whether at home, work or in public as an effort to slow or stop the spread of highly contagious diseases. An example is Officials recommend Social Distancing as a means to help slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are implementing Social Distancing at your venue it may mean working from home and/or creating more space between patrons during a performance.

 

This technique can also be used to reduce venue size down to government mandated levels by adding enough mandatory holds.

 

Distance between Seats

Some clients may be continuing with events and implementing Social Distancing within the Theatre. One approach to this process is holding seats within the venue to not only limit the number of patrons who can attend but also offer more space between seats for those attending. Local officials will determine the recommended distance between patrons and seats.

 

Social Distancing Seating Example

 

Distance between patrons in a performance can be created by holding seats. Depending on where you are in the process the options below outline how to create holds:

 

Changing Maps

An organization may decide to create a Social Distancing map. This map would contain held seats to meet the regulations outlined by officials for group gatherings. Upcoming events can be altered to use this map. When capacity regulations are lifted the map can be updates once more to return to the original configuration or holds can be released within the performances themselves. The process for implementing a Social Distancing map would be:

  1. duplicate the existing map
  2. hold seats on the map
  3. change the map on an existing event
  4. update the holds for the performance to use the default holds for the new map

Some organizations may choose to move from Reserved Seating to General Admission / Festival Seating to allow patrons the option to create distance between themselves and others attending a performance. Click the Changing a Performance from Reserved to General Admission Seating link for details steps.

 

If your organization has implemented steps for Social Distancing not listed above we would love to hear about them. Please contact the support team and let us know what you are doing to help limit risk.

Events that are Cancelled

Many clients have temporarily halted performances in their venues in an effort to protect the public.

An outline containing recommendations for managing event cancellations can be found in the help page Cancelling an Event. These recommendations include generating Revenue and House reports prior to refunding tickets and creating a Mail List of those patrons who have purchased for future reference.

You can refund tickets and create an offsetting payment, donation or add a gift certificate/pass in three ways:

  • Individually, on a patron by patron basis
  • Mass refund to a performance
  • Mass refund across events

When cancelling an event there are many options for dealing with currently purchased tickets.

VERY IMPORTANT: BEFORE REFUNDING PAYMENTS TO CREDIT CARDS...

Important: Please read the rules regarding refunds to credit cards, which are managed by your credit card provider. Theatre Manager does its best to determine which refund rule applies, based on how the card was authorized. If you cannot get refunds working, your merchant provider is the key to unlocking the door.

 

Refunding to an individual patron

When a patron calls in, you have several options for refunding tickets based on their needs. These include:

 

Refunding an entire performance

If you intend to cancel an entire entire event, you can:

  • refund all tickets to a performance at one time with (or without) creating payments (See video above) . You can select some people and refund to them (on the group basis) using one of the following methods:
    • credit cards, or
    • donations, or
    • gift certificates

      -or-

  • Select a range of orders, patrons or ticket types from the attendance tab where you can:
    • work through the list of attendees from top to bottom
    • use the context menu to refund only those tickets manually.
    • This allows you to mark any future tickets in the order and also refund them if that might be important.
    • And you can decide on the refund payment method on a per-order basis (checks, cards, eft, to a donation, or to a gift certificate, etc)

Remember to generate all Reports or Mail Lists about those patrons who have purchased prior to following these steps should you wish to contact them in the future.

 

Refunding across performances and events

You can search for and create a custom list of tickets in the Batch Functions->Unprint or Refund batch of tickets. This option let you:

  • select tickets that cross events, performances, patron, etc.
  • refund the tickets en-masse like the refund process in the attendance tab of events and dates

Events that are Postponed

If performances are to postponed to a future date, it is quite easy in Theatre Manager - simple change the date to the future and you are done.

If you don't know the future date of the postponed event, we suggest simply changing the name of the event and add '(postpoend)' to the title.

But, if you are doing deferred revenue accounting, you must also change the date to be well in the future.

You will need to:

  • Find the event and view the list of performances
  • Edit the performance and simply change the date to a future date. Any tickets for that date are now for the future date and revenues will continue to be deferred until the performance date.

 

Notifying customers of the changes

Once you have changed the performance dates for the desired events to the future, you should do an email blast to all patrons for those performances listing when their new performance is. You might wish to:

  • Send letters and e-mails to patrons notify them of their new event dates and seat locations
    • base your form letter on the Ticket data per performance
    • create a table within the letter with performance dates, times, event names and seat locations
    • indicate in the letter that upcoming performances and tickets are listed within the table
    • use the list of events you changed as criteria
    • merge the letters and emails, Consolidate Tickets per Patron
  • Alternatively, ask patrons to find and print tickets online:
    • base your form letter on the Ticket data per performance
    • Suggest that people login to the web site to review their upcoming performances, see revised dates and to reprint any tickets as required (the example web page below is what a patron would see under their account)
    • use the list of events you changed as criteria
    • When merging, change the duplicates setting to one letter/email per patron so that each patron gets one email
We suggest adding the following link to your email or mail correspondence so that patrons can go online and see their future performances and tickets. The link will show the web page below (after the patron signs in)

https://[tickets.yourvenue.org]/TheatreManager/1/online?futuretickets

 

Example of future tickets web page on web site

The example below shows that the future tickets web page looks like when a customer logs in online. They can see their events with the new dates, along with the ability to print tickets at home. If you change many tickets for many events, this might be the best thing to direct customers to, so that they can print their own.

Partial Refunds of Tuition to Courses

Please refer to the section on course management called Refunding a Partial Amount for a Course for details.

Effectively, you:

  • Do a one time setup of a negative order fee and associated employee permissions if the tuition refund is variable.
  • Add a negative fee in the amount you want to refund to the order
  • Give the patron their partial refund by adding a payment to the order that refunds the amount of the tuition rebate.

    Adding donation quicklinks to emails, TM pages, and any other web pages

    Please refer to the section donation quicklinks to find out how to create a single link that quickly adds a donation to a shopping cart.

    Effectively, using this you can add links to