3 Reasons to Use a Free Seat Filling Service

Why Use a Free Seat Filling Service?

by Lu, OTL City Guides & Seat Fillers

Free tickets?! Why would I give away free tickets when I’m in the business of selling them?

It’s something we’ve heard many times when we approach potential new entertainment partners for OTL Seat Fillers. However, it’s not usually the end of the conversation, as we’ve got some answers that have more than satisfied hundreds of event promoters over the years.

 Let me just say that I get why that would be an initial reaction. After all, sell-outs are the goal of theatres, comedy clubs, music venues, sports teams, and other event facilities.

But a packed house isn’t always feasible – something that’s more apparent as doors reopen after COVID closures. And that’s when it’s a great idea to take advantage of a free seat filling service.

There are only a handful of local seat filling services, like OTL Seat Fillers, in the US and London. PlugInVegas covers Las Vegas and SeatStir is in Baltimore/DC, Cleveland, Minneapolis, NYC/NJ, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

OTL takes care of everywhere else with the most active locations in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, South Florida, Tampa Bay, and London, England. Plus, an on-call membership covers the occasional opportunities that pop up elsewhere.

The concept is a win-win, as seat fillers receive free pairs of tickets and there are several benefits for event promoters. They can fill some seats, introduce new patrons to their venues, and it directly and positively impacts income with higher F & B and merchandise sales.

Another benefit is that no one knows seat fillers are in the audience, as the free seat filling service is private. Entertainment partners aren’t publicized so regular ticket sales aren’t impacted.

How a Free Seat Filling Service Works

OTL, PluginVegas, and SeatStir are three independently run clubs with different pricing, membership rules, and systems. However, for the most part, the process is nearly identical.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. You provide the basic information to the seat filling service, including the date(s), time(s), number of tickets you’d like to offer, and where you’d like the reservation list emailed. Note: OTL Seat Fillers has an event submission form for new partners.
  2. Information for your event is privately posted in the member area and includes a short write-up, suggested attire, parking, and other details.
  3. Interested seat fillers make reservations for 1, 2, 3, or 4 tickets, depending on their membership level.
  4. You receive the reservation list on the day of the event.
  5. Seat Fillers check in at the Box Office (or other designated location) to pick up tickets. Alternatively, you can provide e-tickets that can be distributed upon registration.
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Top Three Benefits of Using a Free Seat Filler Service

I’ve already given away the answers to why you should take advantage of a free seat filling service like OTL. But here are the top three benefits.

1. You’re in Control

Partnering with local seat fillers is different than offering discounts or working with a daily deal provider. You’re in the driver’s seat and can wait until a few days prior to the event to extend the invitation.

You decide:

  • How many tickets to offer – typically four to 40
  • Specific dates and times – pick a single event like a preview performance, a few days that are slower than others, or offer an entire run

There are no contracts or payments to exchange, and you handle the tickets. So, it’s a quick and easy process.

2. Great Way to Build Your Marketing List

Who’s better to market to than people who are proven to love what you have to offer. While local seat filling clubs never share their membership lists, who’s to say you can’t have seat fillers sign in when they arrive to pick up their tickets?

Over the years, we’ve learned that OTL members tend to return to venues they love – whether they’re on the comp list or not. We’ve even had some seat fillers sign up to be a volunteer at some of our community theatre partners.

3. People Are Actually Walking Through the Door

When you partner with a free seat filling service, you’re taking a chance that seat fillers will sign up for the complimentary tickets. But when they do, they’re required to attend.

So, if you receive a reservation list for 20 tickets, you should have 20 seats filled, barring any last-minute emergencies. One of the few membership rules that seat fillers abide by mandates that they attend anything for which they reserve tickets.

Keep in mind, too, that you retain control of your tickets – not the seat filling service. You receive a will-call list and seat fillers check in right before showtime.

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Your Free Seat Filling Service Is Standing By

If you’re new to local seat filling, you’ll find it to be quick, easy, and effective. We understand you’re in the business of selling tickets. But, if your event is quickly approaching and you’ve got unsold seats, why not give it a try?

As we’re fond of saying “An Empty Seat Can’t Buy Popcorn!”


More Information and Resources Through OTL City Guides & Seat Fillers

Event Calendars and Other Free Marketing Resources

Shining the Spotlight on New Theater Marketing Ideas

Finally! A How to Fill a Seat Solution That Works

Why Seat Filling is More Than Filling Seats

OTL Seat Fillers Event Marketing Blog


Seat Filling FAQs

What are the local seat filling providers in the US?

Local seat filling is different than awards show seat filling. The top community seat filler clubs include OTL Seat Fillers, PlugInVegas, and SeatStir.

How much do event promoters pay for seat filling service?

While awards shows might incur costs, local seat filling for community theaters, comedy clubs, music venues, sporting events, etc. is a free service provided by clubs like OTL, SeatStir, and PlugInVegas.

Why would shows and events use a seat filling service?

Local seat filling, like through OTL Seat Fillers, has quite a few benefits for venues. It's free, private, and easy, providing a bigger audience, more food & beverage, and merchandise income. Events typically wait until the week of the event to privately invite seat fillers and, as they're not publicized, regular ticket sales aren't impacted. One of the most significant advantages to using a service, though, is that venues can count on seat fillers walking through the door.

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