When you open up a performance to subscriber reservations or regular ticket sales, you may want to hold back some of the seats so that you can accommodate VIPs at the last minute or resolve a seating challenge. For example, if you found out three hours before curtain that a respected theater critic wanted to attend your opening night performance, it would be a shame to turn them away because the show was sold out.
Audience1st calls seats that you hold back for house use house seats. It is easy to designate house seats in Audience1st, although the process is different for general admission and reserved seating performances.
General Admission Performances
When you set up a general admission performance, you specify the house capacity and maximum number of seats that may be sold in advance. If you would like to hold back seats at the performance, then simply set the maximum number of advance sales to a number smaller than the true house capacity.
For example, if your house has 199 seats and you want to keep five open seats, then set the “House capacity” field to 199 and “Max advance sales” to 194 for the performance. Patrons will be told that the performance is sold out when 194 seats have been sold or reserved, while the box office will be able to continue selling tickets or making subscribers reservations. In this way, you are assured that there will be at least five open seats unless the box office fills those seats. Before opening the house to patrons, simply put a “Reserved” sign on the seats you wish to hold for house use, and you are all set.
Reserved Seating Performances
Holding back seats for house use is more complicated when a performance uses reserved seating. You could use the same approach that is used with general admission performances. You would be assured that the desired number of seats were kept empty unless the box office booked them, but you would have no control over which seats were saved for house use; you could end up with seats in the last row, or single seats scattered all over the house.
For this reason we use a different approach to designating house seats for a reserved seating performance. When you add a performance to a show, you have the opportunity to designate specific seats as house seats. After choosing a seat map for the performance, a seat map appears where you may select as many seats as you wish to designate them as house seats. If you add multiple performances at one time as explained in this article, then all of the newly created performances will start out with the same set of house seats. (Adding additional performances to a show will not affect the house seats on existing performances of the same show.)
You may add or remove house seats for any performance at any time by clicking the Season tab, clicking the name of the show, and then clicking the desired performance. A seat map will appear that indicates all of the house seats for the performance. You may add or remove house seats as you wish. Please note that if a seat is already occupied, you cannot change whether it is a house seat or not. You can turn empty seats into house seats or empty house seats into regular seats at any time, but you cannot make such changes to an occupied seat.
Patrons selecting seats while buying tickets or making reservations will see house seats as unavailable. Patrons cannot distinguish whether a seat is occupied by another patron or simply held back as a house seat.
When theater staff select seats while selling tickets or making reservations for a patron, they will see house seats as available. If the theater staff pick a house seat to assign to a patron, they will see a popup message letting them know they have selected a house seat.
In this way, house seats can be booked by theater staff for anyone, and no patron will be able to take a house seat unless a member of the theater staff performs the transaction for them. Unused house seats can be released at any time for use by patrons.
Note that if you change the seat map for a performance, all house seat designations for that performance will be discarded. This means that if you change the seat map for a performance that had house seats, you will need to designate the house seats again.
Also note that if you assign a house seat to a patron and subsequently cancel the reservation or move them to a different seat, the vacated house seat remains a house seat and will not be available for patrons to book on their own unless you change the house seat into a regular seat.
Also, recall that when theater staff purchase tickets on behalf of a patron, the storefront page will list all types of tickets available for the selected performance and how many of each ticket type are still available. Note that this count of available tickets is calculated from the patron perspective and therefore does not include house seats. For example, if a performance has six unassigned premium seats but five of them are designated as house seats, the storefront will show theater staff that only one premium ticket is available when in fact there are six available. If a patron were to go to the storefront for this performance, they would have access to only one premium ticket and that is why the count of available tickets shows as one. As with other types of limits and restrictions, theater staff can override the constraints that apply to patrons regarding house seats.