Leadership / 12.20.23
2023 Recap: INTIX’s Women in Ticketing Series
This past year, we continued our popular “Women in Ticketing” series, profiling some of the top female decision-makers in the INTIX membership and industry community.
January’s featured interview was with INTIX 2023 Conference Chair Jacque Holowaty. The Co-Founder & CEO, HALM Development, Holowaty sounded a hopeful note for the then-new year: “I think we are going to continue to see more opportunities for our industry to grow and evolve and more people working together than ever before. 2023 is going to be the first full year without the dark cloud of the pandemic looming over us and, as you may know, after a storm comes the rainbow.”
Next up was Jo-Ann Chiam, Vice President of Client Engagement at Toronto-based AudienceView. In her profile, she showed eagerness to give advice to anyone new to the ticketing business in 2023, urging, “Engage in the community and find your support people. This is such a supportive community. You can find your coaches, your mentors, your advocates who will make a real difference in your career. Your advocates are especially important. They are not only going to coach you and mentor you, but they’re also going to speak about you and promote you when you are not in the room.”
We followed that up with a sit-down with Katherine Tran, Senior Director, Premium, Membership Services & Event Hospitality for the Columbus Crew pro soccer team. Her focus at the time was the technology innovations the organization had been putting in place. For instance, the Crew had partnered with Ticketmaster to offer fans an optimal digital ticketing experience. Fans can now download the Crew App to manage and use their game-day tickets. Fans add their tickets to their Apple Wallets or Google Pay in advance of each game for seamless entry. Also, she noted, express touchless entry had recently been made available, delivering seamless and quick access into Lower.com Field via Facial Ticketing.
For our next Women in Ticketing feature, we interviewed Audrey Arseneau, Director of Ticketing for the Oak View Group in Canada. She regaled Access readers with the time she met Garth Brooks prior to one of his concerts over Easter weekend. He paid for a complete holiday meal for his crew, and she found herself behind him in the buffet line. She recalls, “He turned around and saw me waiting behind him. And in his sweet, Southern accent, he asked, ‘Do you want some ham, dear?’ And for some reason, I said, ‘I don’t like ham.’ I really don’t. I like turkey! What was I thinking? I should’ve taken his generosity. But he was very nice. And, yes, he did serve me my turkey!”
In May, Amy Pelzl spoke to us from her office at Saffire, a software company that specializes in providing events, venues and destinations with a simple, interactive platform for websites and ticketing. Pelzl is its Ticketing Team Lead. Following Chiam’s lead earlier, her interview advice was simple and direct: “One of the things that I say a lot and pass on to people younger than me is, ‘No lives will be lost. It’s just ticketing. Just take a breath, and make it happen.’ What we do is important. But it’s not brain surgery. The people will come regardless.”
Which soon after brought Access readers to our next Women in Ticketing interviewee, Bethany Nothstein, Sector Strategy and Community Manager, U.S. and Canada, for Spektrix. She was all too happy to give some wise counsel to female ticketing professionals at the time: “Build yourself a network! The support I received from my earliest days in the industry to today has made this a memorable journey for which I am endlessly grateful. It can be intimidating at times to ask for help or to make an introduction, but I can promise you that walking up to a group of individuals you do not know at an event can lead you to find some of the best friends and support systems that will be by your side for years to come.”
We followed up Nothstein’s profile with one of Kelley Monts de Oca, Director of Ticketing at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the highlights of her feature was a lovely anecdote about when chef, author and Food Network host Alton Brown went on tour for the first time and sent a care package to all of the ticket offices he had worked with. “None of us will ever forget what it felt like to be recognized in an industry that doesn’t always recognize us,” she says.
While many of our interviewees talked about their brushes with celebrity, August’s feature subject pretty much beat them all. Antoinette “Toni” Manzella, Ticketing Director at McCormick Place/Wintrust Arena/Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, once helped host an event in partnership with the Obama Foundation. She recalled during her interview, “President Obama was in attendance. And, to our surprise, the venue staff had the opportunity to meet him and take a group photo. I was so nervous about introducing myself that I kept rehearsing it in my head. When it was my turn, I shook his hand and almost introduced myself as ‘Barack!’ But I ended up stumbling and said my own name. We all shared a good laugh afterwards.”
As the Women in Ticketing column moved into autumn, one of the first to step up and be interviewed was Alexandra “Alex” Gonzalez, Vice President of Tickets and Operations at Las Vegas Events. At the time, her home market was preparing for an impressive run of events aimed at bringing national and international exposure to Sin City: “This includes the first year of Formula 1 in November, the return of the Wrangler NFR in December, and then hosting the city’s very first Super Bowl in February. That’s in addition to all the other events taking place around town on a daily and weekly basis. It’s exciting to be a part of it!”
Staying in Vegas for our October installment, we interviewed Twyla Mitchell, Senior Director of Ticketing & Box Office at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. She spoke about the high level of collaboration that makes her job so rewarding day in and day out: “I get to work with so many different people and teams, and finding ways to weave all of our goals together is fun and exciting every day … I gravitate to the things I find challenging.
I like getting in there and tackling problems and situations and solving and fixing. I particularly like getting handed something we have never done before and being told, ‘Make this happen.’”
Crystal Clinton, the Entertainment Ticketing Director for Opry Entertainment, was our next interviewee. By this point in the Women in Ticketing series, we were looking squarely ahead to the new year and what 2024 might bring. Clinton spoke of her company’s cross-departmental team that meets weekly to discuss “what trends we are seeing and what levers need to be pulled to find the balance between maximizing review and attendance. Buying patterns have changed, and we are seeing a much higher volume of last-minute purchases. People still seem to want the live entertainment experiences, but are they waiting later because of a multitude of choices, or their fear of more stringent cancelation policies?
This puts a burden on the venues to staff properly, balance F&B prep and manage marketing spend. This focused attention has been crucial to our success this year, and we will continue to home in on our forecasting and modeling for 2024 shows.”
Finally, it was back to Sin City and an interview with Annette Evans, Box Office Manager for the Las Vegas Aviators minor league baseball team and the Las Vegas Ballpark. “I am definitely optimistic about heading into 2024 with live events!” she says. “I feel like the industry is growing larger than ever, and we can always come up with new ways to make a guest’s experience memorable.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing