Leadership / 02.08.24
INTIX 2024: Highlights From Day 3
The final day of the INTIX 45th Annual Conference & Exhibition began with a networking coffee break sponsored by AXS, where ideas percolated, and connections brewed.
Attendees then made their way to a roundtable general session on privilege and being an ally. The workshop was a direct result of the work of the INTIX IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) Committee, which helps to advance the goals of the association’s strategic long-range plan (SLRP).
INTIX IDEA Committee
“Our fourth goal of the SLRP is the IDEA Committee … The mission of that goal is that INTIX will foster a culture of anti-racist and equitable practices to ensure a fully accessible association with resources for our members, partners and community,” Josh Ziegenbusch, the incoming INTIX Board Chair, told attendees gathered for the Ticket to Allyship general session.
Ziegenbusch said, “We have had an increased commitment to this goal in 2023. Board-level objectives grew to a committee of members with governance and empowerment to make decisions. One of the recommendations from that committee is a dedicated session at the conference on the topics of IDEA, so we are here today. While this work is never completed, we are fortunate to have passionate members of the Committee and on our Board … to hold us accountable as an association to forward progress in this critical work.”
Roundtable General Session: Ticket to Allyship
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, allyship is “the state or condition of being a person who supports the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it.” As the workshop description declared, “Whether your gut reaction to that definition is, ‘I’m an ally (or want to be); I need an ally; or that's not my jam,’ this session [was] for you.”
Jill Schinberg, Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky, opened her workshop by sharing her pronouns and describing her physical appearance. She then explained the importance of doing so.
“I shared my pronouns to make space that is more inclusive for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people. And I offered a self-description to make space that is more inclusive for visually impaired people,” Schinberg explained. “These are simple actions that an ally can take that support friends, family, co-workers and even strangers who are members of historically excluded groups.”
Schinberg admittedly is not a traditional inclusion, diversity, equity or accessibility expert. She began her career as a venue management professional, having worked for organizations of many sizes and types over two decades. Today, Schinberg teaches courses in leadership and management, arts programming and arts entrepreneurship and researches workplace equity issues.
Early in her career, Schinberg recalls that she was often the only woman on site.
“I did a lot to adapt to that environment,” she said. “I changed how I dressed. [I wore] pants, never skirts. I took the ‘just one of the guys’ approach, and this worked for me. In fact, it worked so well that one of the guys who was my boss at the time commiserated with me about how hard it was to work with women sometimes because of the crying … What I was doing is known as code-switching, if you’ve heard that term before. In 2017, I pitched a session about gender differences for a venue management conference. They said, ‘That sounds interesting, but I doubt it will change anybody’s mind.’ And then they let me do it anyway. Fast forward seven years and nearly a dozen conference sessions about equity in the workplace later, and I have your IDEA Committee to thank for my Caesars Palace debut.”
Schinberg’s debut on the Caesars Palace stage was momentous indeed. She shared how our surroundings influence our perceptions of the world and the impact of unconscious biases. Attendees gained a better understanding of how our own privileges influence what we believe, our views and our actions. She also led ticketing professionals through interactive exercises aimed at exploring privilege and contemplating identity.
“There is a lot of discomfort sometimes for some people in doing this work. There's a lot of concern about saying or doing the wrong thing. How do we fix it? I don't mean to single out the men in the room, but as the self-proclaimed ‘just one of the guys’ type, I have heard many a man say to me, ‘I just want to fix it.’ I understand that impulse. And it doesn't apply only to men. It is most unfortunately not that simple. And that's OK. So, if you can try to indulge me, try to get comfortable being uncomfortable some of the time. You do not have to be uncomfortable all the time, but some of the time it might be uncomfortable. And remember, for that thing that you don't understand, for that person, uncomfortable might be how they feel all the time. So, our empathy is important.”
Resources from this session are available here.
We Are the (Access) Champions: Best Practices for Accessible and Inclusive Customer Service
INTIX is committed to sharing information about accessibility. We are thankful to have experts like Dani Rose, Managing Director of Art-Reach and the 2024 True Tickets Young Ticketing Professional, to provide expertise that helps foster welcoming experiences for all audiences.
After introducing herself and Art-Reach, Rose began her second INTIX session in Las Vegas with a powerful quote: “When you have one access champion in the room, everyone in the room begins to champion access.”
We could not agree more.
Rose had lots of interactive elements in her session. Early on, she asked attendees to shout “accessibility,” “wheelchair” and “disability” loud enough for those in the next room to hear. “We want them to know we are having fun in here,” she said.
And the fun didn’t stop there. Next, Rose asked everyone to look under their seats. Select attendees found envelopes with three cards, with either an “A,” “B” or “C” on them. These team leaders would use the cards to vote for one of three statements on a slide that their group believed to be true. Topics ranged from accessible seating and welcoming guests with disabilities to the definition of disability according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and more.
“As folks with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the United States, and the only group that anyone can join at any time, temporarily or permanently, the ADA generalizes disability in order to be inclusive of the greatest number of individuals,” Rose shared. “It also reflects that not all disabilities work the same way or have the same accommodation requirements. When we think about the requirements of the ADA, think of them as the floor, not the ceiling. The beginning, not the end. Rather than think about what our obligations to the ADA are, let’s think about what our obligations to our community for anti-discrimination are.”
Rose talked about obligations under the ADA, including removal of barriers, effective communications, equal access and reasonable modification. She also shared information specific to ticketing regulations, for which ADA standards are very specific.
INTIX Access is scheduling to share details on the ticketing requirements outlined in Rose’s session, plus information on removing barriers in customer service, in a future story.
From the Exhibition Hall
The INTIX Exhibition Hall is always the place to do business and connect with clients, colleagues, partners and industry friends. After a morning jam-packed with learning, it opened for lunch with the incredible vendors bringing solutions, efficiency and innovation to the global ticketing world.
If there is a single takeaway that SeatGeek wants to leave with INTIX attendees, it is that the blended ticketing marketplace is here to stay and those who embrace the innovation happening there will thrive.
“This was our first time participating in the INTIX Conference in such an expanded capacity, and all of the amazing ticketing professionals who attended and engaged with us made it worthwhile,” Ray Lin, Head of B2B Marketing Strategy for SeatGeek, said. “For those who didn’t get a chance to get to know us better in Las Vegas, SeatGeek is both a primary ticketer and resale marketplace that now proudly has over 100 partners across some of the most revered leagues, teams, venues and content owners in the world.”
Indeed, many SeatGeek partners attended INTIX 2024, including the Cleveland Cavaliers/Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Utah Jazz/Delta Center, Tennessee Titans/Nissan Stadium, MLB and Paciolan just to name a few.
SeatGeek has evolved and grown in recent years with its integrated marketplace partnerships with MLB and Paciolan, doubling its NFL team partners, launching its first golf partnerships with PGA of America and the LPGA, and more.
Lin said, “We come to INTIX to both learn, network and share our own perspectives and learnings from our experience on both the primary and resale sides of the business. Various members of our team have attended INTIX for years, but this was the first time that we’d sponsored and exhibited as well. This gave us the opportunity to show up in a way that also brought more awareness and understanding to SeatGeek’s place and growth within the industry.”
He added, “The opportunity to spend quality time with such a diverse, experienced, all-star lineup of ticketing thought leaders in a number of different settings was great. From happy hours and meals to speaking sessions and our booth, we engaged in many meaningful conversations with thoughtful, friendly people who share our passion for improving ticketing.”
TheaterProducts / C&E Communications offers ticketing window solutions and ADA assistive listening devices to enhance communication with venue patrons and the overall event experience.
“We are all about communication to the customer,” Eric Schwab of TheaterProducts said. “People who are hard of hearing are a large group, and that group is growing larger. [It is important] to be able to communicate clearly with … somebody who wants to go into your event and see a show and has trouble hearing. If they can't understand what's being said at a show, they won't come back. But if they can understand clearly what's going on, then they will come back to your theater. They'll bring friends and enjoy the arts again.”
Schwab said, “The ticket office is also the gateway to the theater. You can direct them to where they can get the devices that they need to be able to either listen using your [theater’s] device or stream the audio directly through their smartphone and directly into their hearing aids. It is a seamless way for you to get a customer from point A to point B and be able to hear everything along the way.”
Across the Exhibition Hall, we spoke with accesso. “We are probably the biggest ticketing company people have never heard of because we are white label and B2B,” Joe Wettstead, Vice President of Client Success, said.
Wettstead continued, “We have always come to INTIX promoting our reserved seating product, ShoWare. We also have ticketing that is focused on ski and theme parks. We have virtual queuing solutions. We have a brand-new point-of-sale system that rivals any point-of-sale system out there. We also have a great distribution channel that we use, and a lot of competitors use it to get tickets onto platforms like Groupon without having to do a direct integration.”
Veteran Tickets Foundation, also known as Vet Tix, is a national organization that fills empty seats and helps veterans, enlisted service members and first responders. The organization has close to two million verified members in its system and relationships with numerous primary ticketing companies. Last year alone, Vet Tix distributed almost five million tickets thanks to the relationships it fosters and builds through INTIX.
“INTIX is a target-rich environment because it covers all the aspects of ticketing,” Edward Rausch, Chief Operating Officer and a founder of Vet Tix, said. From the donor side, it is a great opportunity for us to have face-to-face meetings. On the ticketing side, we work with ProVenue, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek. There are a whole bunch of ticket primaries that we are working with to build integrations to help manage the tickets more efficiently and in a greater volume with fewer human errors. This year, it almost feels like we have become the hunted a little bit because some of these ticketing companies now come to us and say, ‘Hey, how can we put this in place so that our clients can also make use of your services?’”
Rausch said, “If there is an event where you have some empty seats and you want to give back to the community, we are ready to step into that gap by helping you find verified members of the military, veteran population and first responders to attend these events. They will create memories with their families … When you go to a sports event and see your favorite player do something great, you hold on to that for the rest of your life. It could be fathers and daughters building memories at a WNBA game. We want to be able to step in and help these folks that are putting on the events to create those memories.”
The 50/50 draw is always popular at INTIX. Half of the money raised goes to the INTIX Professional Development and Education Fund (PD&E), which provides scholarships to industry professionals who could not otherwise attend the conference. The PD&E also funds the presentation of webinars and the expansion of INTIX year-round programming and initiatives. In Las Vegas, Dallas Janssen of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center was the big winner. Thank you to all the amazing volunteers who sold 50/50 tickets (and didn’t give change in keeping with Linda Forlini’s long-time tradition!) to help the PD&E.
Ticket to Tomorrow: Imagining the Future of Event Experiences
What does the future of event experiences look like? Many have opinions, but closing keynote speaker, futurist Garry Golden, has taken a deeper dive than most. As a professional futurist, he uses data, science, art and technology to identify patterns and see things we may not yet see. His talk was presented in collaboration with todaytix.
“I want to start by focusing on one of the things that futurists try to do in their daily practice, which is turning signals of change into stories,” Golden said. “We want to get better at scanning for signals of change in our world and then building up this internal capacity to then take a mental leap and imagine how the future might be different. My favorite way of doing that is through fake news.”
Golden presented a series of three headlines he had concocted. Will the written essay fall by the wayside? Will we be forced to work alongside artificial intelligence (AI) colleagues or an intelligent assistant in the future? Will there be a tax on social media that funds improvements in mental health and overall well-being? He asked attendees to vote on which scenario was most plausible. The room was divided.
Golden admits the storylines were designed intentionally to be broad. But each could be changed to relate to the world of live event ticketing. Will fans make future purchases by talking to an AI ticketing professional? Could we imagine a world where health insurance plans promote live sports to get young people away from their screens and into stadiums to help improve mental health? Neither scenario seems too far-fetched when you stop and think about it.
While he covered significant ground in his talk, the future of generative AI is one topic that Golden encouraged attendees to look at and learn about in a deep way. This goes well beyond the roadmap of today, which envisions using AI for text-to-text tasks, such as asking ChatGPT to write a marketing campaign, a response to an angry ticket holder or a contract for a performer.
“What I think is going to be the conversations over the next 18 months, things that we are going to start to hear more about, is this notion of text tasks or text-to-jobs,” he explained. “This is like, ‘Schedule appointments with these 10 people for this event.’ You are basically using the AI to do work.”
Golden continued, “Then there is this notion of text-to-apps. This is a world where you are sitting around with your team in the fall of 2024 and someone says to you, ‘I really wish that there was an app that our team could use that would ingest this data and combine it with this information here and then output for us to use internally.’ There's no way that your team would have the resources to create an RFP, hire a software producer and get that application built right, but in this world, you simply go into a platform, describe the app you want, and you could have a software person to connect the final dots,” Golden said. “These are not going to be applications that are critical infrastructure, but they are going to be applications that can help you do your job better and reduce the burden.”
Golden’s presentation slides are posted here for those who want to review his thoughts and learn more.
Janam Technologies announced the launch of GTX, a next-generation mobile entry pedestal, during the INTIX conference in Las Vegas. GTX transforms a new or existing Janam ticket scanner into a fully featured, contactless mobile entry pedestal that rapidly reads all printed and digital barcodes, QR codes, and RFID/NFC tickets and wristbands.
“Janam is not just leading the way in access control; we’re redefining it,” Harry B. Lerner, CEO of Janam Technologies, said. “GTX enables venues around the world to transform their new or existing cutting-edge Janam scanners effortlessly and affordably into state-of-the-art mobile pedestals. Venues don’t need to modify anything else. Their existing Janam scanners are half the solution; GTX completes it for them. And GTX’s winning features and improvements will make it even more indispensable as a trusted solution for rapid venue access.”
See You in New York!
As the conference came to a close, INTIX President & CEO thanked Amy Graca and Bruce Bielenberg for their service in making INTIX 2024 such an incredible success.
“INTIX is also grateful for our 2024 attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors,” Andersen said. “It was wonderful to see you in Las Vegas, and we can’t wait to see you again Jan. 27–30, 2025, at the New York Hilton Midtown for our 46th Annual INTIX Conference & Exhibition.”
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX2024