I see empty seats even at sold out concerts. Technology can be used to fill these empty seats without inconveniencing ticket holders that might arrive well after the event has begun.
Once an event is sold out, tickets could still be sold. Maybe they might be called standby tickets. Many tickets now have barcodes on them and are scanned upon entry to the venue. With bar coded tickets, the venue’s computer system knows at any given moment which seats have people assigned to them that are present in the building.
If all regular ticket holders haven’t arrived by the start of the event, then standby ticket holders would be granted admission. Each standby holder would just approach the door and their ticket would be scanned just as if they had an assigned seat. The venue’s computer would then assign an empty seat to that person and send the seat assignment by text message. The ticket holder would then go to that seat.
If the person originally assigned to that seat arrives, the venue’s computer would pick another seat that was still empty and send a second text message to the standby ticket holder. They would then move to the new seat before the original ticket holder for that seat would have time to walk to their seat. Thus, there would be no awkward confrontation at the seat.
If necessary, the standby ticket holder may have to move multiple times if lots of people arrive late. If it were to turn out that all of the original ticket holders eventually arrive, then the venue’s computer would refund the ticket price and message the standby ticket holder that they would have to leave the venue, but that they had gotten to see the show so far for free.
The venue would be able to study historical data to figure out how many standby tickets to sell to minimize the chance a standby holder would be forced to leave a show in progress.
The standby tickets could be priced differently, probably lower, but perhaps the same or higher, as people desperate to see a sold out show may be willing to put up with some inconvenience for the chance to see a show they would otherwise miss.
I have been thinking about venue seat overbooking for maybe ten years, usually only while I am at a venue thinking about how much money is not being made due to the empty seats. The first iteration of the idea involved pagers that the venue would loan standby ticker holders. The pagers would have displayed the seat assignment. But now that everyone carries a mobile phone, the pagers are not needed and the idea becomes simpler and cheaper. With today’s smartphones, the standby holder could even receive a map showing directions to their new seat.
I like this idea very much, as it’s just software and there is real money to be earned by its use.