Ooooh, this made me angry!
Guardian Theatre blog points out the habit theatres have of refusing to sell single seats if doing so would leave a single seat or a block of 3 which will be harder to sell. I am seriously not amused. As an avid theatregoer who is also fairly skint, going alone is often the way. Lots of my friends who might be persuaded to go if they had the funds will not accompany me if tickets are expensive, and while I like to treat people when I can, it’s not always practical. I have had this happen to me, where I have been forced by an online ticket website to buy a higher price ticket because to sell me the cheaper one would leave a single seat free – I only know this because I have frequently been told that my choice of seat has sold out only to see empty seats during the show. Even accounting for the fact that some people will not turn up having paid, it happens too frequently to be just that. Why should theatres discriminate against people who want a single seat? Surely, but surely, the whole ‘bums on seats’ philosophy argues against turning people away who are happy to pay?
But, then, I can see the twisted logic behind it – people are more likely to want to buy tickets in pairs than any other number – but, crucially, this system discriminates not only against people wanting to sit alone but also against people trying to book in 3s or 5s. That is definitely counter-intuitive in terms of ticket sales: if people go with friends they are more likely to see the theatre as a social event and to go more often – and 3 people are going to have more friends who they will tell about the show. Any marketing person knows the value of word-of-mouth recommendations. And, conversely, the damage that can be done if people complain that they can’t book seats.
I would also like to note that the Guardian is using the word ‘singletons’ to refer to people wanting to buy a single seat. I do not approve if they mean it in the Bridget Jones sense. If it’s mathematical terminology, then OK.