Leadership / 02.02.23
INTIX 2023: Highlights From Day 3
INTIX and bacon are better together and those who know, well, they know! That theme continued at Thursday’s Roundtable General Session. As she was getting set to interview Angela Miles-Powell, Regional Vice President, Venues and Promoters for Ticketmaster and a 2023 IMPACT Award winner, Ebony Hattix was presented with a large plate of bacon. Before launching into her questions, the Director of Guest Relations for the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum couldn’t help but ham it up for the camera. See what we did there?!
Standing Outside the Fire — Ticketing Version
For the past five years, INTIX has been spotlighting women in ticketing, entertainment leadership and technology across all of our content and engagement activities. This includes stories on INTIX Access, coverage across our social channels, webinars and conference sessions. On Thursday, we highlighted yet another amazing story, this time in a special one-on-one conversation.
Hattix opened her remarks with a personal story. She recalled a time when a question came up during a settlement with a promoter. It was something for which help was needed, and, fortunately, Miles-Powell was in the building at the time. “She came down like the unsung hero that many of us ticketing people are. She came in and smoothed things out because she had a relationship with that promoter. From then on, I had no trouble. Ever,” Hattix said. “That’s my story of Angela and how she's been my hero, and until yesterday (when she received the IMPACT Award), she probably never even knew.”
Like almost everybody who works in ticketing, Miles-Powell did not plan for a career in the field. She went to college and studied engineering for two years before changing her major to English with psychology and philosophy. She got her first part-time ticketing job after being recruited from a laundromat and has since finished school, risen through the ranks and never looked back.
A new college major and advances in her career are not the only changes that Miles-Powell has experienced. And while advancements in ticketing are sometimes slower than we may like, she looks at the silver lining from COVID-19 and believes it brought us some positive growth.
“There are definitely innovators and people that are willing to take chances, but we don't always do it as an industry as a whole. COVID gave us no option,” she said. “If I could have my 75-year-old mother use her phone to pull up a menu to order [food], learn how to use that ordering app or go pick up her groceries, we could move to mobile ticketing. At this point, we did not need to print a ticket. We could give fans more power to do things on their own [and] to look for information. All of these things propelled us to start adopting [change] and communicating with the fan in a different way.”
It is also important, says Miles-Powell, to be grateful for those who have lifted you up and to elevate others throughout your career journey.
“Nothing we do is by ourselves. Everything that we have learned, somebody taught [us] … You are born with potential, not with knowledge. So, people that you encounter in your work really make a difference, good and bad. You [may] learn I probably shouldn't do it that way or you learn that you should, that this is a great idea, all of which are important to what we do,” she said. “As a fan, the first person you see is the person who scans your ticket or at parking. That is customer service. Get to know that person. They are important because how that interaction goes is how the interaction is going to go when they hit the next person, the person after that and the person after that. It is critical to think of all of the people along the chain who make a difference. It's our responsibility to lift them up and thank them for what they do because they are extremely important.”
Hattix and Miles-Powell talked about a variety of other topics, from transferrable skills and authentic connections to digital mementos and NFTs. Then, we learned about the connection between Miles-Powell and country legend Garth Brooks. She describes working on his tour as a defining moment.
As background, Miles-Powell was driving somewhere in Mississippi one day when her phone rang. It was Ben Farrell, Brooks’ long-time concert promoter. He said, “Do you have a minute? I need to put Garth on the phone with you.”
Miles-Powell immediately pulled over, not wanting to risk bad cell phone reception and a dropped call. Brooks came on the line, explaining that he wanted to put on a show following the Nashville floods in 2010, then donate the money back to the flood victims. Brooks had been doing shows here and there following his retirement from recording and touring in 2000, but he would go on to sell out nine shows following his idea to host a single benefit concert.
“He said, ‘Hey, do you have a pen? Write down my number.’ I was a nervous wreck,” Miles-Powell said, adding that she knew she had to make it happen, that the client depended on her and had faith in her abilities.
When Brooks resumed touring, Miles-Powell went on the road as a member of his crew. He called her out on stage when they were in North Carolina near her hometown, then told the entire audience that she is the one who makes the ticketing magic happen.
“It meant the world to me [that Garth and his team believed in me],” Miles-Powell said. “I am grateful, there is really no other way to put it.”
Session attendees got another surprise as they were leaving the roundtable session — the Garth Brooks live CD set as a gift donated by Amy Graca of Caesars Entertainment and the INTIX Board Chair.
We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!
Sindri Mar Finnbogason, Founder and Head of Product for Tixly, had some surprises to share in his session too. Beyond imparting truly fascinating information about the path that ticketing has taken from eons ago to today, he showcased actual historical tickets and programs that attendees could hold in their hands. He also included what is believed to be the first-ever ticket in his presentation slides.
“We concluded that this was the first paper ticket that was issued,” Finnbogason said, pointing to an image of a ticket containing beautifully handwritten text. “This ticket was to invite you to the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in London in 1852. They would pre-print this ticket here and then they would hand sign the VIP people that were situated at the funeral. But they would invite everybody to the funeral … and they had, I think, around 200,000 people that attended.”
Following his presentation, Finnbogason spoke with attendees, including David Thomas of TicketSwap UK (pictured below). Together, they looked at a variety of old tickets, programs and other artifacts, including the machine that was used to mail out hard tickets for the Grateful Dead.
From the Exhibition Floor
The INTIX conference and exhibition hall is always the place to do business and connect with clients, colleagues, partners and industry friends.
“It is so special to not only connect with so many organizations that use Tessitura, but also to meet new friends and connect with people from all across the industry,” Jenifer LaMorte, Vice President of Business Development for Tessitura and our INTIX Chair-Elect, said. “For Tessitura, it is exciting to come to the INTIX conference every year because it is an opportunity to give big hugs to everyone, whether it's folks that are our partners or not, and that is a wonderful thing. It is a special thing that is unique to the INTIX conference.”
Tessitura, which announced its newest board members in late January, has always been about community. Its community, in every way, created the company. Today, Tessitura’s tailor-made, unified enterprise solution serves more than 750 leading arts and culture organizations around the world.
At INTIX, “We have been excited to share a lot of the new innovation that we have been putting out,” LaMorte said. “[This includes] lots more customer self-service options, real opportunities for people to leverage Tessitura wherever they are, and to be able to connect more effectively with their customers and patrons.”
LaMorte added, “We are a proud partner of INTIX and are really honored to be part of this organization. [We are also] excited about the future of not only the industry but for what we as a company can bring to the industry as a leader, provider and partner.”
Cover Genius provides end-to-end insurance and warranties for the global customers of the world’s largest digital companies. Their offerings span live event ticketing, retail, travel, logistics and more.
“We have 70 or 80 ticketing companies in integration,” Joe Calnan, Partnerships Director, Live Entertainment Ticketing for Cover Genius, said. The company’s customers in live events include AXS, which powers ticket buying for 350+ worldwide partners across teams, arenas, theaters, clubs and colleges. “We also work with Ticketmaster in Australia and New Zealand as well as lots of white-label platforms. We have a wide breadth of partners and quite different solutions for each partner.”
Known as the insurtech for embedded protection, Cover Genius is global and tech-focused, so everything is done digitally first, Calnan said.
Over at channel manager connectivity provider Redeam, Strategic Partnerships Business Development Manager Lauren Oliver admitted that some attendees might not be as familiar with the value that the company brings to tours and attractions. While the majority of its team is in the United States, Redeam is global and growing across Europe and the Middle East. The company partners with ticketing systems and channel partners but also contracts with the operator or attraction directly.
“We facilitate the distribution of tickets for different venues, attractions and things to do,” Oliver explained. “We integrate to a selection of different ticketing systems and channel partners … Rather than some of our ticketing system partners struggling to maintain APIs and build connections to different channels they want to work with, they can partner with Redeam and we take all of that pain away from them.”
Primary ticketing provider Vivenu, which entered the market in 2018, is another growing global player. Co-Founder and CEO Simon Hennes says that the company serves sophisticated buyers, including theaters, sports clubs and museums. The majority of Vivenu’s customers are in Germany, where the company originated. Another 25% are truly global, ranging from Qatar, Australia, Thailand and Singapore to Colombia and Ecuador. The remaining 30% are in the U.S., which is where Hennes says they are growing and hiring the most at this time.
“The first few years [in the industry] were just learning for us, about all the issues that the industry has,” said Hennes. “In our opinion, it is that customers need to rely on a solution that is not really customizable. It’s legacy technology from the ‘90s, so we tried to make it better. As a ticketing provider, we believe in independence … our product is fully white-label. We are very sophisticated in the features we have and the clients we can serve. Having said so, we tried to make it as intuitive as possible for ticket managers to work with. Last but not least, we do have an open API, so you can connect all the tools you are already using.”
Hennes continued, “It should be you getting out your brand. It shouldn’t be us. It should be you owning the data. Again, it shouldn’t be us. It should be you owning [what] the customer journey looks like, whether it is a one-step process or a seven-step process. It [should be] you owning the email communications. We believe in the independence movement of organizers and this just elevates the ticket buyer’s experience in the end."
Payment and data security provider Bluefin had some sobering thoughts when asked what the company most wanted to share with conference attendees. “The threat of data breaches is real for any organization accepting online payments,” said Jeff Vanek, Account Executive, Security Solutions for Bluefin. And, he said, they are here to stay.
As proof points, Vanek shared that 1,800+ data compromises impacted almost 422 million victims in 2022 alone, with 88 percent of those breaches being cyberattacks. E-commerce fraud is expected to top $48 billion globally this year, up from over $41 billion in 2022 according to Juniper Research.
“Hackers will continue to target your business,” said Vanek, adding that they attempt ransomware attacks on companies every 14 seconds, and a cyberattack now occurs every 39 seconds. “Ticketing organizations need to secure their clients’ data as it is highly sensitive, greatly valuable and can lead to massive losses.”
Protecting payment and patron data is paramount, and a security strategy is a must in these times. “Security experts have stated that implementing encryption and tokenization solutions can devalue data, rendering it useless to hackers in the event of a data breach,” said Vanek.
Bluefin has been helping businesses to secure their patron data for well over a decade as the first PCI-validated P2PE solution in North America.
“Data privacy is crucial to a company’s brand reputation, and we want to ensure that you can keep your patrons’ information safe,” said Vanek. “With integrations to 15 industry-leading ticketing platforms, we have seen how effective our solutions can be at protecting data and have developed a solution that seamlessly fits into your existing infrastructure.”
We were also happy to see our colleagues and friends from Paciolan in Seattle. The largest primary ticketing company in college athletics, which after the INTIX conference announced a partnership with SeatGeek, was on hand to share valuable information with attendees. “We were excited to share insights and industry trends that we saw across the Paciolan client base this past year, particularly in the areas of revenue generation and mobile ticketing,” said Lisa Langham, Vice President of Operations for Paciolan and an INTIX 2023 speaker.
Paciolan also valued the opportunity to connect with industry peers. “It’s so great to get together with everyone outside of the day-to-day craziness that is the ticketing industry, and connect on a personal level and really catch up with people, friends and colleagues you only see once a year,” said Langham.
“INTIX 2023,” said Langham, “had an incredible overall energy that stretched from the opening reception to the closing luncheon.”
That high level of ticketing industry energy will undoubtedly continue as Paciolan approaches its annual users conference in late February.
The INTIX 50/50 draw is always a hit with conference attendees and half of the money raised goes to a great cause — the INTIX Professional Development and Education Fund (PD&E). It helps INTIX provide scholarships to industry professionals who would not otherwise be able to attend the conference. As well, it helps fund the presentation of quality educational programming, including webinars and expand INTIX year-round programming and initiatives.
This year our amazing volunteers sold $4,610 in tickets, which meant one lucky winner would go home with $2,305. A crowd gathered around the INTIX booth, blue tickets in hand, as Jo Michel, the leader of Ticketing Professionals Australia, drew the winner and Amy Kline made the announcement.
And the winner was a very happy Amy Pelzl from Saffire!
Wearable Technology Increases Accessibility
The closing keynote was yet another way to advance INTIX’s strategic commitment to accessibility, equity and inclusion, said Maureen Andersen, President and CEO, as she took the stage to welcome the speakers.
“We are focused on creating our environments to make sure that they are welcoming to all audiences,” Andersen said. “INTIX and our community are so very lucky. We have an amazing group of people who have made themselves available to us, who have passion and who are advocates … [They] have decided to stand up and be partners with us, to help teach us and guide us in these new ways of thinking and behaving. Representation matters at all levels.”
The closing session answered an important question — what if we were to reimagine the way people experienced music? It featured an important discussion on accessibility in live events and welcoming all audiences. Moderator Betty Siegel, Director, Office of Access and VSA at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, skillfully and passionately led the discussion with our panelists. Daniel Belquer, Chief Vibrational Officer and Co-Founder of Music: Not Impossible, showcased innovative technology that helps people who are deaf and who live with hearing loss feel music through their skin. During development and testing, Belquer and his colleagues learned that the technology also has incredible applications for other audiences, including people from the hearing community. Veronica Chapman-Smith, Vice President of Community Initiatives at Opera Philadelphia, talked about her organization’s leadership and how Resonant Philly brings accessibility, technology and music together. Chapman-Smith also shared the role that Belquer’s technology has played and continues to play in the event. Dani Rose, Managing Director at Art-Reach, was also an important part of the conversation, detailing how her organization helps create accessibility throughout the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia.
A full article showcasing the conference session is scheduled for publishing in the coming weeks. Watch this space and your weekly INTIX Access Weekly newsletter for that story.
Thank You and See You in Vegas!
In closing, INTIX is so grateful and thankful for this year’s attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. It was great to see you in Seattle and we can’t wait to see you again in January 2024! Here’s a preview photo of the level of excitement, engagement and passion you can expect — our conference co-chairs and committee members are ready to welcome you in true Las Vegas style, Jan. 29–Feb. 1, 2024, at Caesars Palace.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 7, 2023 to add commentary from Bluefin and Paciolan.
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX 2023