Why Seat Filling is More Than Filling Seats

When you've got a few extra tickets to spare, there are many reasons to invite seat fillers!

It's a Whole New World of Seat Filling and It's More Than Filling Seats

by Lu, OTL City Guides & Seat Fillers

In another lifetime, I worked in marketing for minor league baseball.

One of my many pre-season to-do’s was to find corporate sponsors for as many of the 72 home games as possible. Some of these supporters purchased giveaway items. You know, the good old bat night, cap night, etc. Others were involved in something called a stadium buyout.

Venue Buyouts

The interesting thing about a stadium buyout is that there might be 8,000 seats available after eliminating season tickets. However, the corporate sponsors received 100,000 tickets or sometimes more.

So, that leaves two top-of-mind questions.

  1. Why would we print 10 or 20 times the number of tickets needed?
  2. What good is a stadium buyout that costs much less than the price of individual tickets?

I’m about to answer those two questions as they’re the perfect segue into this blog post about why seat filling is more than filling seats.

paper the house, papering the house

What it Means to Paper the House

Before I get into the many benefits of filling seats, I’ll head back to my lead-off questions about stadium buyouts, aka papering the house.

Avoiding No-Shows

1.  Printing 10 or 20 times the number of tickets needed offsets the no-shows.

Let’s say area fast food restaurants are giving away tickets as a corporate sponsor. Customers get excited to see free stuff and grab tickets, later realizing they have other commitments. So, if you have 8,000 seats and print 8,000 tickets, you might end up with 1,000 used.

Income Beyond Ticket Sales

2.  Even though a buyout costs much less than the retail price of the tickets, it comes with other benefits.

Papering the house is a great way to introduce new patrons to what you have to offer. Free tickets can be enough to get them in the door. In baseball, it adds to the fan base. For theatre or other events, it adds to the patron list.

Also, while the tickets might be free, attendees tend to buy concessions, merchandise, etc. They could be paying for parking, purchasing extra tickets for other family members, etc.

Seat Filling is More Accurate Than Papering

Here at OTL Seat Fillers, we look at local seat filling as a more accurate way of papering the house or having a mini (very mini) buyout through electronic papering.

When we approach potential new entertainment partners, one of the first responses tends to be:

“Why would I fill seats with free tickets when I’m trying to sell them?”

Our answers:

  • You don’t have to privately offer the free tickets to OTL Seat Fillers until you’re confident that you’ll have seats to fill.
  • An empty seat doesn’t buy popcorn or pay for parking.
  • Entertainers would rather perform in front of a packed house, and every filled seat matters.
  • Filling seats with seat fillers introduces new patrons to your fantastic event – and you can add them to your marketing list for future performances.
  • OTL Seat Fillers are required to attend anything they reserve tickets to, resulting in a much lower no-show count.

How OTL Seat Filling Works for Event Promoters and Local Marketers

If you’ve happened upon this blog post because you’re curious about how local seat filling works, then I want to give you the 10-second primer.

Filling Seats Through OTL

1.  You decide how many tickets you want to privately offer to OTL Seat Fillers (4 to 50 is the usual range).

2.  OTL posts all of your show information in the members-only area – including an image, show write-up, dress code, etc.

3.  Seat Fillers make reservations in the member area.

4.  OTL sends the reservation list to you.

5.  You distribute the tickets right before the event. Or, in this world of social distancing and new technology, OTL can distribute electronic tickets or provide members with a registration link to your site.

Benefits of Filling Seats with OTL Seat Fillers

You can see that it’s a super easy process to work with OTL. We never handle tickets – all we do is compile a reservation list.

Aside from easy, here are other seat filling benefits:

Free service – No money is exchanged between OTL and entertainment partners. It’s a free service.

Privacy to shows and events – OTL never publicizes the names of our entertainment partners. Our job is to be a partner of the arts and entertainment communities with a win-win premise. We know that promoting this theater or that comedy club is providing free tickets would negatively impact sales, so “what happens within OTL stays within OTL.”

Increased income for you – An empty seat doesn’t do anyone any good. By privately inviting OTL seat fillers to attend, you should see an increase in food, beverage, merchandise, and parking income.

New patrons – Getting new patrons in the door might just be enough to keep them coming back. Over the years, OTL members have become regular patrons of some of our partner venues. We’ve even had some seat fillers volunteer or end up working for the theatre after falling in love with it.

OTL seat fillers, OTL City Guides

Free Resources for Event Marketers and Promoters

Seat Filling for Shows, Events, and Activities

Now You Know Why Seat Filling is More Than Filling Seats

While your goal might be to have a bigger audience, you can see how the benefits of seat filling go well beyond filling seats.

So, whether you have a show, event, or activity, or you want to fill seats, increase your side income, or introduce new patrons to your venue, you now know you’ve got OTL standing by.

Inviting Seat Fillers to Your Venue

To get started, all you have to do is fill out the event submission form on OTL Seat Fillers. After you fill that out once, you can shoot us a quick email with follow-up events. We try to keep things as quick and easy as possible!

OTL Seat Fillers list