Leadership / 01.25.23
INTIX 2023: Highlights From Day 1
Being at INTIX is always magical because it allows us to connect with like-minded professionals, learn new information and ideas, and network with our peers. Our 2023 gathering in Seattle is 950+ strong, making it the second most-attended INTIX conference of all time. Combine that with a city known for its commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, and you’ve got innovation supercharged on many different fronts.
“Welcome to INTIX and to the beautiful Emerald City, Seattle,” Maureen Andersen, INTIX President and CEO, said as she welcomed conference attendees in the Columbia Ballroom. “Over the past year, our INTIX community — including the members, our board of directors, partners and staff — has worked to return INTIX to strength and vitality, and I am glad to say that is a true statement.”
Andersen continued, “This year is a profound gathering of our industry that has emerged from darkness to the light of success, stability and growth. An industry that has a renewed spirit of vitality driven by innovation and leadership. The most important element of all of this is the people. It’s you. Every single one of you. The professionals in the live entertainment ticket industry whose spirit, grit, determination, courage and remarkable skill have brought audiences and fans back to live entertainment … It is every single one of you who has kept this industry alive and every single one of you who makes it flourish every day.”
Speaking of keeping important traditions alive, former INTIX board member Amy Kline has stepped in to fill some pretty big shoes while retired ticketing legend Linda Forlini is on a five-month world cruise. Look for Amy and other volunteers wearing the blue INTIX aprons to get your 50/50 tickets in support of the Professional Development & Education Fund. And remember, as Linda has always said, we do not give change.
INTIX 2023 Conference Chair Jacque Holowaty was next up on stage, and she kicked things up a notch — literally! “I wore my Emerald City shoes for this occasion,” the Vice President of Employee and Guest Experience at Climate Pledge Arena said to a round of loud applause before showing off a pair of sparkling emerald ankle boots. “We love this beautiful city. We are super happy to have you here and to share it with you all,” Holowaty said, adding that attendees have many amazing conference sessions to choose from this week.
Setting the tone for INTIX 2023, the first official presentation was “Changing the World — Live Entertainment Sustainability Leadership.” The dual keynote presentation sponsored by Ticketmaster delved into the impact that live entertainment venues and organizations are making when it comes to sustainability.
Climate Pledge is aiming to be the most progressive, responsible and sustainable arena in the world. To that end, its goals include becoming the first zero-carbon arena in the world, eliminating single-use plastics by 2024, creating “zero waste” based on industry standards, and showing leadership in water conservation, quality and use.
“Not only did we preserve the historic roof [while building Climate Pledge Arena], but all of the original glass on the north end of the building was all from the original 1962 construction,” Rob Johnson, VP of Sustainability and Transportation for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena, said. “In addition to all of the incredible preservation work we did in the building, we did something really fun. We created something called our ‘Rain to Rink’ system.”
Johnson continued, “In 1962 our building was designed by an architect named Paul Thiry as an homage to a traditional Native American Coast Salish rain hat. We said, ‘How do we pay forward that inspiration into a new generation of a building?’”
Climate Pledge Arena is doing this by collecting rainwater off the northwest quadrant of the facility, holding it in a 15,000-gallon cistern, and using it to resurface the ice. The hockey players like it because it freezes cleaner than treated water. And in the first season, the arena saved 165,000 gallons of water by drawing it from the cistern instead of the municipal supply.
“The building was designed to use its assets, use what it has a lot of and really leverage that,” Kristen Fulmer, Senior Director of Sustainability for Oak View Group, said. “It’s no coincidence that the cistern captures all of the rain that happens in Seattle to go into the ice rink. That wouldn’t make a lot of sense in Phoenix, for example. A really important piece about sustainability is that even though these are large, high-level principles that we need to stick to related to reducing water use, definitely reducing plastic or avoiding plastic, and reducing carbon emissions, it looks different for each place. That’s how you can really flex your own version of [sustainability] leadership, whether it’s within a specific venue, in your specific role or in your community overall.”
Erin Koppel, Chief Strategy Officer at Tessitura Network, led an interactive, Tessitura-sponsored workshop on “Taking Digital Transformation to the Next Level.” Together with John Jakovich, Chief Innovation Officer for Tessitura Network, a jam-packed room of ticketing professionals learned what digital transformation means for ticketing organizations, plus how to inspire innovation and then manage that change.
“The real investment in digital transformation is only partly technology,” Koppel said. “Digital transformation is essentially an organizational and people issue. If we go back to that idea of digital maturity, you want to clear the path for success within your organization. This means you want to fund it, so yes, the tools themselves, but more importantly, as it relates to people and culture, you want to set aside learning time, appropriate resources, materials and opportunities for team members to internalize the changes in process and thinking.”
Having a growth mindset, said Koppel, is fundamentally required for successful transformation. Additionally, ticketing professionals must focus on digital literacy — understanding emerging trends and how those trends can bring new value — to ensure that transformation takes root. “I’m going to give you an example,” Koppel told session attendees. “Streaming services were talked about in college classrooms for 10 years before Netflix was founded, did you know that? Blockbuster was also not paying attention. It’s real. You have to understand trends and developments.”
In another INTIX Village session, attendees learned about search engine marketing (SEM or paid search) and search engine optimization (SEO or organic search) to sell more tickets and create better event awareness. In “Sell More Tickets: The Power of Google Search,” Ekom Enyong, SEO Manager for Patron Technology, discussed the difference between SEM and SEO.
SEM campaigns can produce results quite quickly, Enyong explained, adding that entertainment organizations can reach their target audience almost immediately by paying to display ads on search engine results pages (SERPs). “Put [your ads] into Google and get them approved … you are showing up until your budget runs out,” she said.
Enyong continued, “If you asked me today after this meeting, ‘Hey Ekom, I have some questions. Can you help me figure out my SEO strategy today, right now?’ I would say, ‘No.’” As the audience laughed, Enyong explained that she can’t do it because SEO is different. You are, she said, creating an entire strategy that you are not paying for. This may include website changes that have an impact over a longer period of time, such as writing keyword-intensive blog posts and changing titles and meta descriptions. These changes must proliferate to reach target audiences organically. In SEM, you can target specific audiences immediately. With SEO, you do not have that power.
Sponsored by accesso, the INTIX 2023 Welcome Lunch showcased speakers, VenuesNow Ticketing Star award winners and more.
“I have been with accesso for 14 years and this is my 14th INTIX,” Joe Wettstead, VP of Client Success, Live Entertainment for Accesso, said. “I’m very excited to see everyone again to begin gearing up for another jam-packed week at INTIX 2023 in the great city of Seattle … One of my favorite things about this event is how it brings together so many professionals from so many unique disciplines. From sales to technology, finance to marketing, box office and venue management, we all play a vital but equal role in delivering the amazing experiences that only live entertainment can offer. At the end of the day, that’s what unites us and drives us forward.”
Together with the Washington State Fair on Thursday, Wettstead will delve into a session on “The Joy of Anticipation.” The speakers will reveal how the power to positively impact guests can extend both beyond the confines of your venue and into the weeks (or even months!) prior to their visit.
Up next was special guest Michal Lorenc, Head of Industry, Ticketing and Gambling Marketplaces at Google and a longtime friend of INTIX. Lorenc remained in touch throughout the pandemic, helped us and provided a lifeline of data, said Andersen. At INTIX 2023, he provided an update to the many webinars he shared over the past three years. “We are back to live, but things are completely different,” he said.
Lorenc touched on many topics, but the common theme was how consumer behavior has changed.
“Broadway tickets [is] one of the categories that has been lagging to return. We are almost there. We are inching up. The slightly misleading thing is that we are inching up to pre-COVID levels on the back of the Christmas season,” Lorenc said. “There is a question about how sustainable this is. Also, as a destination, New York is dealing with lots of non-COVID-related issues — a lack of tourists and perceived issues with safety, which keeps lots of typical patrons of Broadway away.”
Lorenc continued, “Initially, people missed sports. That’s what we have seen. People wanted to go back to sporting events early on. Then, over time, that shifted … right now concerts, live music and festivals are by far the number one reason for people to buy tickets and go get entertained.”
Additionally, Lorenc noted that the average get-in price for many sports has substantially decreased. The exceptions are big, one-of-a-kind events, for which there is pent-up demand, fans are paying high prices and games are selling out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for games that are not considered extraordinary, fans are buying tickets closer to the event and they are buying single games over subscriptions.
Inflation, Lorenc explained, has also played a factor in purchasing patterns. With that said, consumers are willing to selectively spend on things that are “worth it” and to make memories.
Lorenc shared this quote from a Canadian Gen Z fan in his presentation, “I think something like a hockey game, when you have a really good time, a different experience and a sense that you did something that was above and beyond — that’s something that is worth it.”
“How do you promote? It’s almost counterintuitive. The window for buying tickets is getting shorter and shorter but the consideration stage and deciding what to do gets longer and longer,” Lorenc said. “If you want to cut down on your marketing expenses by shortening the window when you’re promoting, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yes, you would target the people that are ready to buy tickets, the hardcore [fans], but it’s the casual fans who will help sell out your event. So, promotion is very critical, and then leveraging AI, leveraging first-party data [is also important]. The trends continue to change and evolve.”
Michael McDermott, the newly appointed General Manager of the Americas at SECUTIX, addressed attendees following Lorenc’s talk.
“Everything I planned to talk about, Mike Lorenc from Google stole, so I think they are listening to my phone,” McDermott joked. “I’m honored to be here. I feel so blessed to be sharing this experience with you in person. We are blessed to be in an industry where our passion and profession come together … It’s an amazing time to be back as we just learned, and there are lots of transitions going on in our industry.”
SECUTIX is returning for its fifth year as sponsor of the Inspiration Stage, which offers 15-minute, bite-sized learning opportunities.
VenuesNow Ticketing Stars
INTIX has a fantastic partnership with VenuesNow, which includes producing the INTIX quarterly that showcases ticketing, the people, the challenges, the trends and our stories. It is fundamental that we continue to tell our stories and grow the ticketing voice to the industry at large.
For the past 17 years, VenuesNow has recognized many of our industry’s best and brightest with the VenuesNow Ticketing Star Awards. With us to present the class of 2023 was Ryan Borba, Managing Editor at Pollstar and VenuesNow. The recipients are:
- Russ Stanley, Senior Vice President, Ticket Sales & Services, San Francisco Giants (Editors Pick)
- Anja Arvo, Pre-Sales Manager, Red61
- Anthony Esposito, Senior Vice President, Ticket Operations, Atlanta Braves
- Allyson Kidd, Box Office Manager, Steven Tanger Center
- Elizabeth Brooks, Ticket Operations Manager, Charlotte Hornets/Hornets Sports & Entertainment
- Anthony Silva, Senior Director of Ticket Operations, Golden State Warriors/Chase Center
After being celebrated individually, each recipient gave brief remarks to the audience. During his time on stage, Esposito proudly held up two incredible achievements – his 2023 Ticketing Star Award and his 2021 World Series Ring.
While Red61’s Arvo was unable to attend, she was equally celebrated by her peers for her achievements.
Exhibition Hall Opening
The Exhibition Hall was buzzing with excitement as it opened to showcase the very best solutions our industry has to offer.
“There are two big evolutions happening in our space. One is from paper to digital and the other is from barcode to NFC, which is also tap and go,” Harry B. Lerner, CEO and Co-Founder of Janam Technologies, said. “There are now solutions that embody all of those so you don’t need to leave one necessarily to go to the other … You can enable your venue, customers or end-users to migrate cleanly from one of those to the next, with the most advanced features, at price points that are super affordable and with the full 360-degree support that you would want to receive.”
INTIX, says Lerner, is an amazing opportunity to meet a broad array of technology partners, ticketing partners, reseller partners, customers and end users all in the same place, all interested in the same sets of conversations. “It’s a fantastic learning and networking experience as much as it is one to promote what we do,” he said.
Lerner continued, “In terms of the products we sell, we are most excited that the same handheld scanner that has become industry standard for venues around the world can power a self-service pedestal or kiosk, so one doesn’t have to support multiple platforms, multiple sets of software or multiple pieces of hardware. The same handheld that is used as a handheld can also get docked into a pedestal and power a self-credentialing process.”
Palco4, said CEO Vicente Vara, is at INTIX to spread the word about its modern, simple ticketing solutions. In just its second year in business, the company was already working in 13 countries, with clients in Spain, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, China and Japan.
“We are a global company … [and] we are working with a lot of organizations in different places,” Vara said. “In Spain, for example, most of the theaters and performing arts centers in Madrid and other cities are working with us. The national basketball team in Spain is working with us. In Mexico, we work with a lot of concert ticketing portals. In America, we are starting now with … Mexican music for the American market.”
Vara continued, “We want INTIX [attendees] to know that we can offer something different, better, and [that] we can improve their operations … We would like them to try our solution, to know what we can do because what we are doing in other countries is simplifying business and improving revenue.”
It was impossible not to notice Harry Styles sporting a lavender feather boa in the Wordfly booth. And yes, that is a llama and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, too.
When they are not striking a pose with celebrities, the Wordfly team does email marketing, SMS, surveys, RSVPs and landing pages for events, festivals and venues around the world. This helps organizations to engage more with ticket buyers and attendees.
“We are integrated with a lot of the ticketing services here. If you use Tessitura or any number of these CRM or ticketing platforms, we’re integrated with them,” Kirk Bentley, Business Development Director at Wordfly, said. “Having that data go back and forth so you can see who clicked on what, who bought what, and what emails drove what ticket sales is hugely valuable. With most other systems you use, whether it’s MailChimp or Constant Contact, you are not going to get any of the same kind of data that we can give you.”
There is one last thing that we simply must mention — and that of course is bacon in the Exhibit Hall. On Wednesday, you could find bacon in grilled cheese sandwiches…
… and SUNY Fredonia’s Ticketing and Customer Service Manager Raleigh Hawk also gave us a good laugh by being a good sport. Yes, Raleigh was walking around the Exhibit Hall sporting a bacon costume. Here he is alongside former INTIX board member and Director at SecureMyBooking Peter I’anson of the U.K.
TicketPlan has announced a partnership with SI Tickets, the fan-first ticketing site from Sports Illustrated, to deliver a refund insurance solution for the ticketing platform’s customers later in 2023.
“We are all incredibly excited to be working with such an iconic brand as Sports Illustrated to develop and provide a refund insurance solution for its fan-focused ticketing platform, SI Tickets, via our long-standing partnership with GoReady,” Ben Bray, Relationship and Development Director at TicketPlan, said.
Join us Wednesday for the INTIX Technology Town Hall, more must-attend conference sessions, getting business done in the Exhibition Hall, the INTIX Awards Lunch and more!
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX 2023 , Recap