At Spektrix, we think it’s only fair that your access customers should be able to enjoy the same easy booking journey as everyone else – after all, not everyone’s able to use the telephone or visit your box office during opening hours.
In the Spektrix Insights Report 2019, we found that, in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, an average of only 4% of bookings that included wheelchair access needs occurred online. Whether you’ve just made the leap to having your wheelchair accessible seats available online and are looking to go a step further, or you simply have different access seating available in your venue, this article will look at some quick ways you can both flag and sell additional access seats online.
Some examples of other access seats which you might want to sell online are those which:
- Offer the best view of captions and/or an interpreter
- Are close to an exit
- Are within the hearing loop (in case it doesn’t cover the venue in full)
Highlighting access seats/performances on seating plans
Adding access-related information to your seating plans is an ideal way of making that information available as widely as possible. There are two commonly used types of seating plans:
- Unreserved, which only contain one Price Band and allow customers to simply choose the Ticket Type that’s right for them
- Reserved, which can contain multiple Price Bands and allow customers to choose the exact seats they’d like to sit in
Reserved seating plans can also be assigned different Layout Overlays and Lock Overlays, as well as Price Band Overlays, to change the Price Banding, and Info Overlays, to attach warnings and additional information to selected seats.
All of the different types of overlays can be changed whilst the seating plan beneath remains the same, giving you flexibility over your plans – even once the Instances are on sale. In the following sections we’ll look at how to use both reserved and unreserved seating plans to communicate access information.
Reserved seating plans
In this section we’ll look at using both Info Overlays and Layout Overlays to highlight access seats to your customers and provide access-specific information online.
Using Info Overlays to highlight access seats
There’s a good chance you’re already using Info Overlays to highlight seats with restricted views or legroom, so why not also use them to show additional information for your access patrons? For example, you might want to flag which seats you’d recommend for caption or BSL users at a particular performance to ensure they know where they’ll get the best view of the caption box or BSL interpreter. You can apply Info Overlays to a seating plan at the Instance level, which means you can have as many as you need in order to give information that’s relevant to particular performances.
You can add an Info Overlay to any reserved seating plan by editing it in the Admin Interface, under Seating. Click the seating plan in question and head to the Info tab. In the bottom left corner, click the New button to create a new Info Overlay.
Name your new Info Overlay and then click Edit in the bottom right corner. Select the seats you need, then click the Add a label button:
This will create your first label, marked on the seating plan as an A. Bear in mind that these seats won’t appear this way to the customer; they’ll see any seat with a label on it as a circle with an i symbol:
This will draw attention to these seats and, when the customer hovers their cursor over them, they’ll see the usual pop-up letting them know the seat number and the price, plus this additional information.
Using Layout Overlays to add access and performance-specific information
Each reserved seating plan Layout Overlay is made up of a combination of masked seats and a background image, making a unique rendering of your original seating plan. The background image usually contains your row letters, seat numbers, area borders and an icon for the stage.
When you create a new Layout Overlay for any reserved seating plan (which you can do by going to Seating Plans, selecting the seating plan and going to Layouts), you’ll have the option to upload a new background image:
A few things to bear in mind when creating a new background image:
- You can save the existing background image (right-click > Save image as) and edit that
- If you do that, make sure you don’t change the size of the image at all, otherwise the seats won’t line up when you upload the new version
- Make sure you upload your new image as a .jpg or .gif file
As you can apply Layout Overlays at an Instance level, this gives you the opportunity to add additional information to your new layout. Consider including elements such as:
- Whether a specific Instance is an assisted/accessible performance
- The location of your venue’s exits
- Where your caption screens will be placed in the space
- Whether seats are at ground level
- The range of your hearing loop
Here are some examples of how these might look, starting with an example of a seating plan containing information about ground level (or otherwise) access, where caption screens are, and aisle access:
Next, an example highlighting that it’s a Relaxed Performance, and demonstrating the ground/first floor access:
And finally, an example containing lots of information about captions and a BSL interpreter:
Unreserved seating plans
Don’t worry if you don’t use allocated seating; you can still use your seating plans to flag your access seats and performances for unreserved venues!
Multi-area unreserved seating plans (which you can request via the Seating Plan Request Form) allow you to reserve seats within the space for those with particular access requirements as and when they book. For example, you might have a plan that looks like this:
When setting this up, you’ll be able to choose whether both of these options take people to an unreserved section of your seating plan or, if there are particular seats which are appropriate for access customers, a reserved seating plan that only shows those seats. Here’s an example of how that might look:
These plans can be especially useful for festivals, where there might be a raised viewing platform for access patrons, but they’ll work for any unreserved seating plan.
If you also want to highlight whether a particular performance is accessible, you can create new Layout Overlays in exactly the same way as we discussed earlier, adding this information to the background image:
For more information about setting up Overlays for seating plans, see this article.
Making your access seats available to book online
Now you’ve done the hard work of making your access seats easy to find online, you’ll want to make sure any seats locked for particular access needs are easy for your access patrons to book! For our clients within the UK/IE, we recommend you have a look at our article on Making Wheelchair Seats Available Online (UK/IE Version) – the methods laid out there can be used to lock a variety of seats off to customers who meet particular criteria.
If you have any further questions about flagging and selling your access seats online, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.