Holding Season Seats

Does anyone have any advice about when to hold season seats? This is our first time issuing season tickets in Theatre Manager. We have made our Events, Control House, and Season Package and are now entering season ticket holders into the Control House from the last season we sold them (2019-2020). We will have a deadline for subscribers to obtain the same day and seats as last time but many of them usually miss that deadline. In the past, we have always held some seats in each performance until a couple weeks ahead of time for cast and crew, and subscriber exchanges. These are usually the seats that are most popular with subscribers so I think we should Hold the Season Seats that haven’t been renewed yet plus some others. But when should we do that? We could do it before we even process any renewals or wait until the renewal deadline. Anyone have any advice based on your past experience? If we hold them right away, will that cause problems later?

Thank you,

Paul at Old Town Playhouse

Hi Paul,

Please keep in mind each organizations is different and how season subscription seats are managed depends on the organizations business practices.

Most organizations have clearly outlined deadlines for when season subscribers can renew their seats. Following this deadline is the relocation period where patrons who what to move seats/dates are moved to the date/seat based on availability. By releasing the seats of those who have not renewed it provides better options for those who wish to relocate and rewards their loyalty. After the relocation process is finished new subscribers are seated.

Holding season subscriptions is often done when single ticket sales begin during the renewal period. For those organizations that allow single ticket buys to purchase at the same time, the holding of season seats protects them from being purchased by single ticket patrons. Again, most organizations would release the season seats at the end of, or a couple days after, the season renewal deadline.


Hi @paulfretheim. I can only speak to Proctors processes over the years so defer to Bonnie’s comment for broader context. At Proctors, we have three three “phases” of sub holds:

  1. Phase 1 - For the exact renewal phase, we use the default map holds as a starting guide and setup all non-s holds to match across the control house and events. Typically we add some extra holds at this point to accommodate any specific show needs and long-term protect donor/company/press locations from subscribers. We also use TM’s “s” hold feature to push subscriber seat holds down into all of the events, each set attached to the subscribing patron account. This phase lasts until the first few days after that exact renewal deadline and we call it the “pin drop” period.
  2. Phase 2 - In the few days after the exact renewal phase ends (usually after 2-3 patron eblast reminders about the deadline), we release the “s” holds of unrenewed subscribers EXCEPT for those from a list of donors/VIPS that our Development department provides. Basically our policy is to actually drop the seats unless you are a VIP for some other reason as well. We usually need to cleanup individual non-s show holds at this point as well (get rid of oddball single seats, correct the counts and locations based on new subscriber locations, etc). This phase lasts until the first show or two goes on single ticket sale. We call this the “swiss cheese” period. The shows are still only avail to subscribers (and maybe group leaders or high-end donors), but incoming subscriptions may have to get different seats for different shows. At some point in here we start allowing subscribers to exchange to different performances for specific shows.
  3. Phase 3 - We start dropping any remaining unrenewed “s” holds for those few donors/VIPs once the individual shows start going on-sale. At this point, the Development department has done outreach to these folks probably multiple times.

Hope that helps a little. I suspect our timeline is similar to other theatres, but that everyone processes their holds slightly differently. Because we are beholden to Broadway holds reporting and have two venues worth of subscribers that attend each other’s buildings, we do tend to have a pretty complex sub season holds setup. It works fairly well, but requires a lot of setup time for Phase I (pin drop) and Phase 2 (swiss cheese) and annual staff training. It’s never perfectly followed by all staff, but over the years we have trained patrons to honor that exact renewal deadline and allowed subscriber upgrades while protecting the company and house location needs.