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Trip Advisor-style website allows public to rate West End theatre seats

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A website modelled on Trip Advisor that allows members of the public to rate seats in West End theatres has been launched.

Called Seat Plan, the site allows theatregoers to review how comfortable a seat is, its general condition, the leg room it has and what the view of the stage is like when sitting in it.

It is the brainchild of theatregoer Ben Jackson and theatre director Tim Sullivan.

Sullivan told The Stage he is hoping that every seat in all of the major West End theatres will eventually be reviewed through crowdsourcing information, providing a “useful resource” for people choosing seats when booking a show.

“I am 6’ 7” and I know how difficult certain seats can be, but there has never really been a forum for people to share their tips on different theatres and where the places to sit are,” he said, adding: “When you buy a seat over the internet or on the phone for a West End show it’s taken totally on trust. The only criteria you can judge it by is its price in relation to other seats in the theatre. However, if you book a holiday online, there are lots of websites with customer reviews and feedback to give you the opportunity to make an informed choice.”

The site has launched with around 1,000 reviews, and Sullivan explained the initiative allows for multiple reviews of individual seats, which will provide “different opinions” to be considered by people booking seats.

He added that venue operators were likely to welcome the initiative, claiming not knowing what a seat is like may have “acted as a barrier” to some people buying tickets.

Sullivan also claimed the site, at www.seatplan.co.uk, could benefit theatre operators and producers, because some people will choose to spend more after using it.

“There are plenty of people who only go to the theatre twice a year, and if they knew how much better their seat would be if they paid an extra £10 they would be more than happy to do that,” he said.

Website Theatremonkey currently provides reviews of seats in West End theatres, which includes feedback from theatregoers.

However, Sullivan said Seat Plan is different because it is “much more interactive” and people can “post reviews on it directly”.

“Obviously everyone is different in height and shape and we want people’s reviews to reflect that information as they rate each seat,” he said.

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