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The Two-Pass system - Naming Seats for Dinner Theatre, Cabaret Seating, and Small Venues

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For online sales, we have implemented a mechanism that tries to prevent leaving single seats and maximize your revenue. This web page is geared towards online sales only because Box Office personnel can do anything they wish to dress the house accordingly.

If you have the Seat Names file designed correctly for your venue, you can use web sales to accomplish a lot and fill your house. As humans, we have a great deal more perception abilities to make allowances for subtle changes in situations - but online, computers need to deal with hard parameters of sales rules.

For the vast majority of a venue, assigning the Best Available Area to go straight across a row, and then thread up and down through the venue makes a lot of sense. After all, most people want front and center, middle and center, or balcony front. It starts to breakdown in fringe seats at the edges of venues or the loges, or those odd little corners in venues that are usually in the least desirable seat areas. It also tends to breakdown in Dinner Theatre settings where you have lots of tables, but they only hold two or four patrons each (although we've seen six, eight or even ten seats at a table).

Therefore, Theatre Manager uses a 'two-pass' mechanism which can handle leftover seats for online sales in case the good seats have been taken.

This gives you:

  • Revenue protection for the key seats
  • A way to manipulate the lower quantile seats while still doing the best for revenues - and still allowing some to be left as singles.

Dinner Theatre and Cabaret Seating

Naming of seats on a Graphic Map for a Dining Room or Cabaret setting may need some adjustments in order to enable the booking of tables, specifically online booking where selecting best available is the default option. Consider a dining room setup of a series of tables of four where you will seat a party of two, three or four at a table. With no adjustments to the seat name chart of your Theatre Map the following could happen:

  • Patron A requests two seats. Theatre Manager will offer the first available table of four, which leaves two seats remaining at the table. Patron B immediately requests two seats, and Theatre Manager will then offer the two remaining seats at the first table. What you now have is two different parties (strangers in fact) sitting at the same table.
  • Another scenario might be a Patron requests three seats. Theatre Manager will not find three seats at a table of four because Theatre Manager will not leave one empty seat. So the patron will never be offered a table of three.
  • To achieve a favorable result we introduce the use of # ('pound'), and apply it to the Best Available Area code of the Seat Names in your Theatre Map setup.

    You will need to edit the Best Available Area code on the seats as follows: The seat name of Table 1 may look like this.

    By applying the # to two of the four seats as shown in the next image will result in the following.

    Patron A requests two of four, or all four seats, and this table will be offered. Because when the # is applied to the Best Available Area code, the remaining two of four unsold seats will not be offered to the next Patron. Theatre Manager will then offer Table 2 - or the next table with seats available. Note that the use of the pound on a seat causes Theatre Manager to overlook that seat.

    Now this scenario presents a problem for a patron seeking three seats. If you use # for two of the four seats at tables of four, there won't be a successful request for three seats as Theatre Manager will never leave one remaining seat.

    If parties of three are a frequent booking for your venue, then what you need to do is to consider a selection of tables where you edit the Best Available Area code to utilize the two-pass system for only one of the four seats at the table as in the following image.

    So the rule to follow when using the # to overlook seating is this:

  • Applying the # to two of the four seats at a table will result in a patron being able to purchase two of four or all four seats, but not three of four.
  • Applying the # to one of the four seats at a table will result in a patron being able to purchase three of four, or all four seats, but not two of the four.

  • Small Venue Seating

    The same two-pass system can be applied when venues have sections with only three seats in a single row (typically on the sides of smaller venues, or the corners of 'Theatre in the Round').

    For example, let's say you only have three seats on the Left side of Row A. We will assume that the seats are all empty and you did not use the '#' in the Best Seat Area.

    If a patron asks online for one or three seats, they would get them. They would not get them if they asked for two. Theatre Manager would move the patron back a little bit in the venue until it could find two seats PLUS at least two left over.

    Seats that are in the front row on the side are likely to be nearer to the tail end of desirable - probably in the last quartile. They are certainly not the absolute best seats in the house, which are generally more towards the center. So now you have a bit of flexibility to decide what to do with them if they are not going to be the first offered to patrons or the first that are snapped up in the Box Office.

    If we use the best seat area and name them as follows:

    Then this invokes the two-pass strategy for those seats. If all seats are open (in the entire venue), then if a patron asks for:

    • One or three seats - nothing will be offered
    • Two seats - then Seats 1 and 2 will be offered

    So patrons wanting one or three seats will be moved back a couple of rows. Remember that this front-side area is low on the desired scale.

    Now, suppose you have a full house and there are very few seats left to sell. But these three in the front-side, Row A, are all still available. If a patron asks for:

    • One or three seats, nothing will be offered (See below)
    • Two seats, then they will get something

    Since we can't disappoint patrons wanting one or three seats, and if Theatre Manager cannot find any other seats in the venue, it will remember that it bypassed these ones and go back to them for a second pass. So, Theatre Manager will say:

    • One seat requested - offer Seat 1
    • Three seats requested - offer them all
    • Two seats requested - offer Seats 1 and 2

    Thus, the search process is designed so that:

    • The majority of seats are taken care of in the first pass. This is how patrons work and how Box Office Managers dress the house normally.
    • A second pass can be invoked if you are coming down to the wire (say the last quartile) where you want to be a little freer with how seats are offered.