How do I manage a seating plan for a 2,500 seat theatre?
May 13, 2013 5:04 PM   Subscribe

My work is holding an event in a 2,500 seat theatre. The actual invitations and ticketing are not a problem, but we need a way to plan where the various VIPs, media, public etc will be sitting.

Some of the allocations will be easy, as in ‘general public sits in this block’, but up to about 2,000 of the seats will need to be specifically allocated, and may need to be reshuffled several times.

Before the event, we will need to print a list of who is sitting where, and signs for many of the seats listing name, company and phone number.

The theatre has 3 levels (stalls, circle, balcony), and I have a pdf seating plan for each level.

At the moment I’m imagining spreadsheets, mail merges and cutting and pasting... please help me avoid that! Is there a (free or not-too-expensive) program I can download that will make this process easier?
posted by peppermintfreddo to Grab Bag (3 answers total)
Oh man I would hire someone who has done this before. You really want it to go right.
posted by shothotbot at 5:50 PM on May 13, 2013

Ask the theater. I'd bet money they've already got a way of handling this.
posted by valkyryn at 6:11 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Talk to the theatre's box office manager. Have them help you with the seating plot - they can probably point out to you where media traditionally goes, help you figure out which sections best serve your needs as far as VIP seating, tell you where the dead spots are as far as sound or obstructed views, etc. Once you suss out the room, assign your guest types - VIPs, Media, General Public - to the various sections.

After you have your sections figured out, then you can assign actual seats to individuals. For this, use the PDFs you have as your map, and create a spreadsheet with a page for each level. Use the rows as rows and the columns as seats, and if you can, rename them so they correspond with the venue site maps.

When you're done, give that list to your box office manager and ask them to load it into their ticketing system so that everyone gets an actual ticket for an actual seat when they arrive at your event. Most of the time, ticketing systems will flag any problems - if two people have been assigned the same seat number, for example - so use that as your double check.

The signage thing is going to be a huge drag for you and people do not pay any attention to signs anyway. You will have plenty to worry about on the day of without this hassle. I've done events at venues from 200-7500 people and seating is a MUCH bigger pain in the ass than you might realize, so by all means, let the theatre do as much of this for you as you can.

Good luck!
posted by deliciae at 6:48 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

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