Best Available Overlays give your customers the option of automatically having the best seats chosen for them, instead of, or as well as, letting them pick their own seats from a Seating Plan.
You can use Best Available Overlays to rank the reserved seats on a Seating Plan so that the best seats available can automatically be allocated. Best Available Overlays can improve the online booking experience for customers, especially if you have a large Seating Plan.
Before you read this article make sure you’re familiar with:
Best Available overlays should only be created for reserved Seating Plans. They’re not needed for general admission.
Why create a Best Available Overlay?
The Best Available functionality makes the booking process easier for customers and works particularly well for customers using mobile devices.
By choosing ‘search for Best Available seats’, the user is prompted to enter the number of tickets required and then clicks ‘search’. If there are tickets which match the users' search, they are automatically chosen and added to the basket. Tickets are allocated in order of best to worst as ranked by you when creating the Best Available Overlay. Once added to the basket, the tickets can be shown on the Seating Plan so the customer can see which seats have been selected for them.
TIP: If you work with Ticket Agents to sell your events via the Agency API, they may suggest that you set up Best Available Overlays to help with their integration.
Configuring the Best Available functionality
Before creating your Seating Plan Overlay, you’ll want to start by configuring the default behaviour that will apply across your whole system.
Configuring the system settingfs will set the default behaviour for any Instances with a Best Available Overlay attached. Further on in this article we’ll show how this can be overridden at Instance level to change the behaviour of specific Instances.
Turn on Best Available selection
Set a system default by going to Settings > Configuration > System Setup > Website.
Under Default seat selection behaviour you will be presented with three options.
- Allow both seat selection and Best Available: On a Desktop device this will initially display the Seating Plan to the customer but will also provide a link where the best available seats can be automatically allocated. On a mobile or tablet device this will initially display the Best Available option, with a link to the Seating Plan where they can choose their own instead.
- Allow seat selection only: this will only display the Seating Plan so the customer can choose their own seats. This is dependent on the ‘System Default’ option being selected at Instance level.
- Allow Best Available only: this option will not show the Seating Plan and only ever display the Best Available search screen for Instances that have a Best Available Overlay attached. Any Instances without a Best Available Overlay attached will show the Seating Plan.
Switch Seating Plan view on or off
You can choose whether or not the customer sees the seats selected on the Seating Plan when using Best Available online. For example, if you have a larger Seating Plan it might create a better customer experience to have Best Available seats allocated without the Seating Plan being visible on a mobile device.
You can choose from the following options.
- Display the selected seats on the Seating Plan: this option will show the best available seats they've been assigned on your Seating Plan, making it clear where the seats are on the Seating Plan.
- Display the selected seats on list, skipping the Seating Plan: this option will simply take the customer straight to the basket, where their selected seats will be listed.
Creating a new Best Available Overlay
In Admin > Seating > Seating Plans, click the name of the Seating Plan that you want to create a new Best Available Overlay for.
From here, a new screen will open with the different Overlay types listed across the top. Select Best Available, then click New to create a new Best Available Overlay.
Enter a name for the Best Available Overlay (this name is only visible in the Admin Interface, so feel free to be as descriptive as needed) and click OK.
In the panel on the left, make sure your new Best Available Overlay’s name is selected in dark green, and click the Edit button to make changes.
Applying heat value to seats
Best Available Overlays work by allowing you to assign a heat value to the seats on your Seating Plan ranking them from -1000 (blue, worst) to +1000 (red, best). When a customer or Sales User chooses to search for the best available seats, seats will be automatically allocated with a preference from the best seats to the worst.
Select the Rectangle tool from the top left of the plan, and use this to draw a rectangle over the seats on your plan.
You’ll see that heat (indicated by colour) is applied to the area of and around the rectangle.
You can adjust the spread (how far the reach of the area affected is) and the heat ( -1000 blue, worst to +1000 red, best) using the sliders at the top of the Seating Plan. You can also add multiple rectangles to a Seating Plan or place one rectangle inside another to give a more accurate representation of where the best seats are. You can move the rectangle once placed or delete a rectangle using the delete key on your keyboard.
The anchor tool allows you to lock the heat of specific seats to a particular value. Using this tool in conjunction with the rectangle tool allows you to exclude certain seats in an area. For example, this might be useful if you have restricted view seats in your Seating Plan.
Click the anchor tool and choose the seat you wish to lock. A pop-up will appear where you can enter a specific heat value from 1-1000, this seat will be locked to that value and unaffected by the heat level of those around it.
Once you are happy with your heat map, click Save.
Applying a new Best Available Overlay to Instances
When creating new Events you can choose to apply your Best Available Overlay during the Event set up process.
However, if you want to add your Best Available Overlay to a specific Instance or multiple Instances that already exist then follow the steps below.
REMINDER: If you want to apply the Best Available Overlay to multiple Instances, you can do so by using the Bulk Instance Updater Tool.
- In Admin > Events, select the Event
- In the Instances tab, select the Instance you wish to edit
- In the Seating Plan tab, click Edit in the bottom right corner
- Under Best Available Overlay, choose from the following options: Only allow Pick Your Own, Only allow Best Available, Allow Either, or System Default.
- When you've selected the behaviour you want, click Save.
Editing an Existing Best Available Overlay
When making changes to an existing Best Available Overlay that is already in use, you can choose to apply the updated Overlay across all or some of the Instances that are currently on sale and/or all future Instances currently using your Seating Plan.
- Head to Admin > Seating > Seating Plans and select the Seating Planthat you want to create a new Best Available Overlay for
- Click Best Available from the options listed across the top
- Select the Best Available Overlay you wish to edit, then click Edit and reassign seats to different Price Bands as required
- Click Save and a pop-up will appear with the options of how you can choose to apply your Overlay.
REMINDER: If a seat was sold at a particular heat value but was assigned a new one by this update, and then the ticket is returned, the seat will go back on sale with its new heat value.
TIP: Instances that you've chosen not to update and those which have failed to update will now have a 'custom' Best Available Overlay that will reflect the original version. The old Best Available overlay will exist on those specific Instances but you will not be able to edit or use that Layout against future Instances.
- A report will automatically run and you should see a yellow pop-up in the right-hand corner of the screen that says ‘Update instance results.xls is running’.
- Open this report in Excel to see which Instances have been successfully updated.
Searching for Best Available seats
The Best Availability function works in both the Sales Interface and for customers online.
See below for examples of the Best Available Overlay function in action.
Searching for the best available seats in the Sales Interface
When an Instance with a Best Available Overlay added has been selected, box office staff can click the Best Available Seats button beneath the Seating Plan.
This will open the Best Available Seats pop up, where they can enter how many tickets the customer is looking for, which seating areas they'd like to search in, and at which Price Bands.
Click Add To Basket and the best available seats that match the criteria will be added to the basket.
Searching for the Best Available seats online
When an Instance with a Best Available Overlay added has been selected online, and the chosen behaviour is set to Allow both seat selection and Best Available, the customer will see the Seating Plan first, with the option to click Search for the Best Available seats.
If they choose this option, they'll be taken to a page where they can enter how many tickets they're looking for, which seating areas they'd like to search in, and at which Price Bands.
They'll also have the option to return to the Seating Plan to select their own seats.
If a customer chooses to Continue the best available seats that match the criteria laid out will be added to the basket.
REMINDER: if no seats matching the criteria are found, they'll see the following message: We were unable to find any seats meeting your requirements. Please change your options and try again.
If a customer is booking on a mobile or tablet device, they'll see the criteria options first but they'll also have the option to go to the Seating Plan to select their own seats.
You should now be able to set up and edit Best Available Overlays in Spektrix.
For more information about pricing and seating plans, see the Set up Events, Offers and Merchandise section of the Support Centre.