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Creating a Best Available Overlay

Billy Fluck
Billy Fluck
  • Updated

This article is an extension of the Introduction to Seating Plan Overlays.

You can use Best Available Overlays to tell Spektrix how your seats are ranked for a particular performance.  You can then give your customers the option of having the system choose the best seats for them, or force them to use the Best Available functionality rather than let them pick their own seats from a plan (this works particularly well for mobile bookings where seating plans may be too big to be used effectively).

In this article we'll cover:

Creating a new Best Available Overlay

In Admin > Seating > Seating Plans, select the seating plan you wish to create a new Best Available Overlay for:

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From here, a new screen will open with the following options listed across the top: Details, Seat Attributes, View From Seat, Layouts, Price Bands, Locks, Info, and Best Available. Select Best Available, then click New to create a new Best Available Overlay:

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You'll first name your new Best Available Overlay; bear in mind that this name is only visible in the Admin Interface, so feel free to be as descriptive as needed.

Click OK and your new Best Available Overlay's name will now be listed in the left-hand pane and selected in dark green. Click the Edit button to make changes:

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Best Available Overlays work by having you assign a heat value to the seats on your seating plan; you'll rank them from 1 (blue, worst) to 1000 (red, best).

To change the heat value of your seats, select the Rectangle tool from the top left of the plan, and use this to draw a rectangle over the seats on your plan:

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The seats in the rectangle now increase in heat value; you can use the two sliders at the top of the plan in order to control how good/hot or cold/bad the seats become:

  • Range: this will increase or decrease the radius of the rectangle's effect on nearby seats:

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  • Heat: this will change how good/hot or cold/bad the seats within the rectangle's radius are:

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You can add as many rectangles as required. To edit rectangles that have already been placed, select the arrow icon from the top left of the plan and click the desired rectangle. You'll then be able to move this rectangle, edit the slider positions, or press the Delete key on your keyboard to remove it altogether.

To change the heat value of an individual seat (if, for example, you've a specific seat with sight line problems), click the anchor icon in the top left of the plan and select it. A pop-up will appear where you can enter a specific heat value from 1-1000; this will lock this seat at this heat value, separate from those around it. You can add as many anchored seats as required.

Once you've assigned all your heat values, click Save.

Editing a Best Available Overlay

You can change the Best Available Overlay for any Instances that are already on sale; there are a few ways in which you can do this, depending on where else the Best Available Overlay is being used, and if your changes will affect all or only some of these Instances.

Updating a Best Available Overlay at the global level

You can update a Lock Overlay at the global level, changing it for use going forward and against all (or some) of the Instances currently using it.

  • Head to Admin > Seating > Seating Plans and select the seating plan in question
  • Click Best Available from the options listed at 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:

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Once you have saved this, a report will automatically run in the top right hand corner. This report is checking that the edited Best Available Overlay can be applied to all of the Instances you've selected. Open this report in Excel and you'll be able to see which Instances have been successfully updated. 

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 become go back on sale with its new heat value.

NOTE: if you select None, choose to only update selected Instances, or if any Instances are not successfully updated, Instances that you've chosen not to update and those which have failed to update will now have a 'custom' Best Available Overlay that reflects the original version.

Updating a Lock Overlay at the Instance level

It might be the case that you don't want to make a global change to a Best Available Overlay, but simply need to change it for a particular Instance.

You can create an entirely new Best Available Overlay, either starting from scratch as before or copying an existing one, and apply this to an Instance. To copy a Best Available Overlay, click the down arrow next to its name and select Copy:

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You can rename your copied Best Available Overlay by clicking the down arrow and selecting Rename.

Make a note of your new Best Available Overlay's name and then:

  • 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
  • In the Best Available Overlay dropdown, select the new Best Available Overlay you've created

Configuring the Best Available functionality's default behaviour

In order to use Best Available, you'll need to set a system default by going to Settings > System Setup > Website. Under Default seat selection behaviour:

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Choose the option you wish to use by default:

  • Allow both seat selection and Best Available: if a customer is using a desktop computer, initially display the seating plan to the customer, and a link to opt for the best available seats instead. If a customer is booking on a device, initially display the Best Available search screen, with a link to opt to the seating plan where they can choose their own instead
  • Allow seat selection only: only ever display the seating plan so the customer can choose their own seats; no Best Available options will be shown, even if a Best Available Overlay is attached to an Instance
  • Allow Best Available only: only ever display the Best Available search screen for Instances that have a Best Available Overlay attached; any Instances without one will show the seating plan

Selecting one of these will set the default behaviour for any Instances with a Best Available Overlay attached. 

You can also choose whether or not the customer sees the seats selected on the seating plan when using Best Available online. For example, if your plan is very large, it might not be legible on a mobile device and so it might be more reasonable to select the Best Available seats without seeing the plan:

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You can choose from the following:

  • 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 they'll be sat

If you want to change the Best Available functionality's behaviour for a specific Instance:

  • 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
    • System Default
  • When you've selected the behaviour you want, click Save

Searching for best available seats

The Best Availability function works in both the Sales Interface and online.

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:

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This will open the Best Available Seats popup, 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:

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Click Add To Basket and the best available seats that match the criteria laid out 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:

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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:

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When they hit Continue, the best available seats that match the criteria laid out will be added to their basket; 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.

NOTE:  if a customer is booking on a device, they'll see these same options in reverse: firstly, they'll be encouraged to enter how many tickets they're looking for, which seating areas they'd like to search in, and at which Price Bands, but they'll also have the option to go to the seating plan to select their own seats.

Further reading

Hopefully this article has given you all you need to know in order to set up your Best Available Overlays. From here, you can return to the Introduction to Seating Plan Overlays.

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If you still have questions about the Best Available functionality, or if you would like to discuss anything related to seating plans, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.

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