Leadership / 04.04.18
An Ode to Ticketing Professionals
“This is an incredibly exciting, wonderful, exasperating, heartbreaking, chaotic, rewarding, maddening, stimulating, joyful world,” said Maureen Andersen, CEO of INTIX, as she recently took the stage at Johnson and Wales University for the annual Ticket Talk Conference. She wasn’t trying to impress academics with her litany of adjectives. What she did, however, is sum up, in about a dozen words, her 35 years of experience in the world of show business.
Maureen was the 61st Distinguished Visiting Professor to speak to College of Hospitality Management students and staff, and almost certainly one of the most passionate and entertaining. One could be forgiven for thinking she was an actress, on hand to accept a Tony award. Certainly, it could be argued that her engaging performance deserved such an accolade, but Maureen knows even more about the ticket office than being on stage. And, as she should be, she’s just as proud of that as any actor or actress would be after a starring performance. Her pride showed in every word she delivered to her audience.
“The ticket office is the barometer of any organization or venue. They are the heartbeat ― the mysterious ‘I don’t know what they do in there, but they seem to always know the answers,’” said Maureen. “The nobility of our business springs from this mystery.”
More than “just the box office”
From her own early beginnings in ticketing, Maureen has climbed to the pinnacle of the industry. In her current role, she provides leadership and guidance to more than 1,000 ticketing, sales, technology, finance and marketing professionals from more than 25 countries. These professionals work in the world of arts, professional sports, college athletics and entertainment, as well as a full range of public venues and institutions.
While working behind the scenes may seem less glamorous than being in the spotlight, nothing gets Maureen more riled than to hear people say, “Oh, you just work in the box office.”
“By that mere statement, by the implication of the word ‘just,’ the entire role in this vital and integral industry is diminished and defined as ‘only,’ ‘merely,’ ‘nothing but’ or ‘no more than,’” she said.
From there, Maureen launching into a spirited defense of all the professionals she has come to know and love over the past three and a half decades.
“This collection of overachievers, type-A, aggressive, organized, smart, funny, didactic, nimble, complex, talented, educated professionals are so not ‘just’ anything. It takes brains, courage, heart and a few wizards, witches and flying monkeys to tame this job. Think about it for a minute,” said Maureen. “This tribe of professionals are magicians who, with a wave of their wands, turn into publicists, marketers, promoters, accountants, business owners, lawyers, psychiatrists, writers, technologists and purveyors of hospitality that ignite success. Just the box office? Just? Really?”
Having fired Johnson and Wales students up with a passionate portrait of professionalism in the ticketing industry, Maureen could not resist the inevitable pitch to those in the audience who may be considering a career in show business.
“If you want to learn this business of show business from the inside out, consider ticketing,” she said. “If you want access to the backbone of any venue or organization, try ticketing. If you want to be recognized and available for multiple opportunities, try a stint in the ticket office.”
Is ticketing right for you?
For those wondering if they have what it takes to join this merry band of ticketing professionals, Maureen was ready with a handy list.
“We are teachers, lawyers, nurses, actors, technicians, writers, musicians, bankers, scientists, managers, directors, social workers, psychologists, military vets, journalists, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers,” she said. “As a side note, the best ticket office professional I ever hired was an emergency room (ER) cardiac surgeon. Nothing rattled him. After a shift in the ER, working the chaos of the ticket office was nothing.”
To paraphrase Maureen, if you’re a type A personality — a passionate and flexible multitasker who thrives with chaos — you’ll succeed in ticketing. She also said it helps to have a sense of humor.
For those who still believe the magic only happens on the stage and not behind the scenes, Maureen had a special message.
“We create magic too. Often, our magic goes unheralded and we don’t get to see the miracle of it all. Back in my deep ticket office days, I would often walk into the back of one of my theaters and just stop and watch. I’d watch the magic of it all: the well-oiled machine, the pockets of joy, the magic of a live audience arriving and anticipating something special, the event, the entertainment. I still get that feeling of magic whenever and wherever I walk into performance spaces. To know that all the work, hours, pain, tickets, re-seats, errors, hassles, drama, yelling, tears, panic, upheaval, changes, re-doing our work sometimes countless times, selling, returning, re-printing, cursing, reporting and meetings that go into just one single performance of an event. That is what we do,” said Maureen. “We take this giant, million-piece jigsaw puzzle and put it together.”
If you do choose this career path, Maureen told her audience, you will be in for an exciting and wonderful life adventure.
“If you choose to work in this incredible world of show business, of live entertainment, I will guarantee you one thing today, and this is something I can absolutely promise you: I promise that this will be a wonderful ride and that you will be amazed by where you end up. It is a world of magic and of heartbreak, but of huge rewards. A world of big opportunities. You will meet colleagues that will bring you friendship, camaraderie, frustration and joy. They will make you want to pull your hair out and they will be your tribe, your protectors and your family. I will also promise you that where you think you are going and where you end up, today, has nothing to do with the reality of where you are going to end up down the road. This business, this show business, has a way of taking a lot of twists and turns as it gives you the ride of your life. This business, this show business, is full of surprises and, in fact, it is this very element of surprise that keeps us here,” she said. “The surprises are sometimes problems, but often the surprises are fantastic, life-changing moments. It is my experience that the surprises, unknowns and ‘gotcha’ moments are those that keep us here once we come to it all.”
Accept the challenge
Having spent 35 years in the industry, Maureen has seen many surprising developments herself, as the ticketing industry has evolved at a phenomenal rate. She is now throwing down the gauntlet to a new generation of venue, ticketing, revenue and marketing professionals, challenging them to do even better.
“Even as we are bombarded with more and more technology and communication choices, we are getting a great opportunity,” she said. “The technology has fine-tuned for us what is vastly important. Using the tools at hand, both old and new, gives us the ability to communicate with clarity and sharpens the venue-to-customer experience, the service we provide and how we engage with our customers. Up the game on service. Be accessible, safe, fair and transparent. This will be your challenge as you take over responsibility for the venues, organizations and ticket offices in the years ahead.”
Connect with the most passionate ticketing professionals from around the world at the INTIX 40th Annual Conference, taking place Jan. 29-31, 2019, in Texas. Meet up with colleagues in the live event ticketing sphere for a three-day event that includes a comprehensive educational program highlighting industry trends and innovations, an exhibition featuring companies that offer a wide range of ticketing products and services, and opportunities to network with peers and business partners. We hope to see you in Texas!
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Tags: Sports , Music , Theater , Arts