Leadership / 01.29.24
INTIX Honors 2024 Awards Recipients at 45th Annual Conference & Exhibition
INTIX friends, it is time to celebrate!
We all know just how important INTIX, its members and our global ticketing community are to live events and entertainment. Without ticketing professionals, the show could quite literally not go on.
That is why it is so important that we come together each year to recognize the pros who have demonstrated outstanding expertise, transcending titles, locations and organizational affiliations.
Drum roll, please, as we honor the 2024 INTIX Award recipients!
INTIX Spirit Award — Jason Varnish
The 2024 Spirit Award recipient is Jason Varnish, owner and President of BOM (Box Office Management) Advisers, as voted by the INTIX membership. Each year, the Spirit Award recipient is an active INTIX member who exemplifies enthusiasm, camaraderie, participation and collaboration with peers and the industry.
Over 18 years as an INTIX member, Varnish has been a panelist, served on multiple committees, shared his expertise as a conference speaker and breakout session panelist, and volunteered in the Mentor Program. He is a past Chair of the INTIX Member Connections committee and received the 2014 Box Office Star award, presented by Venue’s Today (now VenuesNow) in Chicago. Varnish is always quick to give a hug or a high-five. He also praises both his peers and INTIX for breaking down barriers. Varnish says this enables ticketing professionals to learn from each other across genres and venue types. “We sell fun; that is what bonds us all together,” he told INTIX Access in a 2021 article.
“INTIX is the professional embodiment of confidence in the job that we all do on a daily basis,” Varnish said in support of his nomination. “Whether it is from acknowledgements from our peers or the knowledge that we all practice in our specific fields, INTIX provides that support with the tangible ideals of camaraderie and community. INTIX Spirit translates to me as confidence in my profession and the strength of the relationships that INTIX helps to foster!”
Speaking of relationships across live events and entertainment, BOM Advisers had a busy 2023. The organization wrapped up the year serving 27 new and returning clients over a total of 313 events in eight different states. Through these events, Varnish mentored a team of ticketing professionals, many of whom are INTIX members, to succeed in a variety of unique environments. His enthusiastic spirit and willingness to help both his ticketing peers and the industry at large continued to shine through during these events and beyond.
“In looking over the past winners of all the awards, unless I missed it, I was very surprised not to see the name Jason Varnish among them,” his nominator said. “Jason is easily one of the most enthusiastic supporters of INTIX and the ticket industry that I've ever come across in my many years in the business. I know that Jason has always been helpful to his fellow ticketing professionals in terms of advice and employment opportunities. If I ever have an issue in any number of areas, I know Jason is one of my industry colleagues I can always count on. When it comes to ticket industry spirit over a long, accomplished career, Jason Varnish is one of the first names that comes to my mind.”
True Tickets Young Ticketing Professional — Dani Rose
The 2023 True Tickets Young Ticketing Professional Award recipient is Dani Rose, Managing Director of Art-Reach. Each year, this award goes to an INTIX member under the age of 40 who embodies the future of INTIX, the profession and the industry. The recipient also represents the ideals of INTIX and demonstrates growing leadership, innovation, customer care and critical thinking skills.
Rose has been an INTIX member for five years but is a seasoned professional with a decade of experience. She began working in ticketing and patron services at Ticket Philadelphia, where she had the opportunity to learn more about the obligations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ticketing policies therein. That opportunity opened the door to a new career path in ticketing, accessibility and live events.
Indeed, today, many will recognize Rose as one of the accessibility experts who has generously helped our community learn more about the ADA and how to welcome every attendee, regardless of their abilities, to venues of all sizes, genres and types.
“I became dedicated to the study and practice of accessible ticketing, obtaining ADA Coordinator certification, and established a position within the arts and entertainment industry as well as the accessibility community,” Rose explained in support of her nomination. “I will never be able to repay the person who gave me this opportunity.”
From there, Rose worked with the Ticket Philadelphia leadership team to craft everything from new ticketing policies and pricing structures to an informational website, plan-your-visit information and so much more.
“I worked with our web services team to implement an icon system in our internal systems as well as on our website to create a universal way of identifying access services during the ticket transaction,” she said. “I influenced the redesign of our seating maps, utilizing icons instead of color codes, and influenced the information display of access services for performances during the transaction process. I worked with a team to create a policy for free admissions for caregivers/direct support workers, created efficiency in purchasing ASL-view seats, provided trainings, and support[ed] ticketing policy for the incorporation of sensory-friendly performances and sensory kits in our venues.”
And the list goes on, with Rose driving training and the execution of renovated accessibility features in venues and redeveloping communication systems between ticketing and front-of-house. Further, she advocated for discount ticketing programs so that finances would not be a barrier to accessing the arts.
Rose also overhauled Ticket Philadelphia’s training based on her work, but she didn’t stop there.
“I worked my way to training not only the full contact center, but also the guest-facing venue staff, ushers and security teams, the DEIA employee resource group, as well as the leadership teams, our local Tessitura resource group, tri-state ticketing groups, teaching accessibility to ticketing professionals, and ticketing to accessibility professionals,” Rose shared. She has also spoken at several conferences, including multiple times at INTIX. Rose has provided digital training, run workshops and worked tirelessly to increase the conversation surrounding accessibility and welcoming everyone to the live events arena.
In total, Rose has trained hundreds of professionals in ticketing and live events while advocating for what she calls “inclusive, outrageous customer service.” She has also created materials and trainings that are easy to understand and follow for providing equitable experiences in customer service for guests with disabilities.
“I have, in my own way, in my own small corner at the intersection of accessibility, customer service and ticketing, found a way to influence greater access to arts and entertainment for the community of people with disabilities nationwide,” she said in support of her nomination. “And this is how I show my gratitude for the opportunity that was given to me when I was introduced to this work.”
Outstanding Ticket Office — Omaha Performing Arts
The 2024 Outstanding Ticket Office is Ticket Omaha at Omaha Performing Arts. This award is presented each year to a ticket office with an outstanding customer service reputation. The ticket office team must collaborate skillfully and professionally, upholding a standard of excellence, accuracy and precision in public and internal accounting tasks.
Ticket Omaha highly values communication and believes it is fundamental to a well-run operation. The team uses various tools and channels to connect with its patrons. In doing so, these ticketing professionals ensure that everything from promo codes and on-sale dates to changes in policies and procedures are always clearly conveyed.
Thanks to weekly check-ins, leaders at Ticket Omaha know what their team needs to be successful. Cross-training has provided more understanding and ownership within the department, and numerous team members can now complete tasks that just a few people previously handled.
Managing complex challenges is also an area where Ticket Omaha shines. The team recently successfully relocated several hundred subscribers from their seats of 10+ years. This was necessary because a consortium partner wanted a significant change to two subscription packages, which required rescaling and eliminating the use of certain sections for subscriber seats. After figuring out the timing and communication with the consortium partner, Ticket Omaha proactively tried to anticipate subscriber concerns. Customer service reps were armed with responses to those concerns, and everyone was updated along the way as part of a fluid process.
“We then began the process of manually moving subscribers. Once this was done, we started getting feedback from subscribers. Some [were] very happy and others not so much,” Rob Bass, Associate Director of Patron Services, explained in support of Ticket Omaha’s nomination. “After many conversations and just exhibiting some empathy for our subscribers, not only were we able to satisfy the vast majority, but it also led to those two subscription packages having the highest renewal percentages, all because of the amount of time and care we spent to make sure those subscribers understood what exactly was going on and being flexible enough to find solutions for them.”
The Ticket Omaha team also helps to increase revenue through a choose-your-own (CYO) package once the season starts.
“This is something that the team personally sees so much value in,” Bass explained in Ticket Omaha’s nomination. “It is something they work into many conversations whenever patrons mention having any interest in more than one performance. I often hear, ‘Let me tell you about our CYO package and all the benefits associated with it!’ Immediately, we see patrons purchasing three or more performances, the CYO minimum, instead of just one performance. Of course, we always lead with the best seats available and mention add-ons, but the CYO package push has really made a huge difference in our CYO package sales over the last three seasons.”
Outstanding Ticketing Professional — Lori Murphy
The 2024 Outstanding Ticketing Professional is Lori Murphy, Director of Ticket Sales and Operations, Georgetown University Athletic Ticket Office. Each year, this award recognizes an INTIX member who has exhibited standards of excellence, precision, achievement, service and professionalism. The recipient has also demonstrated ongoing support of INTIX, its membership and its mission through involvement and participation.
Murphy has been an INTIX member for 21 years and is a 28-year industry veteran who sold her first ticket from a ticket rack while attending Missouri State University (SMSU). Since then, she has contributed to many amazing events, including two NCAA championships, WNBA postseason and finals, and the opening of two venues. This includes a 2,000-seat concert hall in North Bethesda, Maryland, and a 42,000-seat baseball stadium during her time with the MLB Washington Nationals. Murphy has also been on staff for a papal mass, many concerts, the NHL Winter Classic, an All-Star Game and The World Series.
“While at the Nationals, I was charged with creating and executing the on-sales for non-baseball events,” Murphy shared in support of her nomination. “Events included Billy Joel and Elton John, two nights of Taylor Swift, One Direction, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. I helped with the conversion from Tickets.com PVE to PV while at the Nationals. I also took the lead on season suites during the 2019 season. In 2020, I was the person to take the initiative to learn how to build, create and update venues in PV. Taking this on, we brought all concert builds in-house so we could build them out faster for a smoother on-sale.”
Since joining Georgetown University Athletics Ticket Office, Murphy has redesigned the ticket webpage to make it more accessible for season ticket holders and fans. She has also streamlined visiting team ticket requirement forms and created new ticket packages for the 2023–24 men’s basketball season. On the women’s basketball side, she is working to streamline ticket requests for home and away games.
“Returning to my roots [in intercollegiate athletics] has brought out a passion that I longed for,” Murphy said. “It has allowed me to refocus on what I can accomplish and teach students; that, in fact, working in ticketing can be and is sexy.”
Murphy said, “In my career, I have closed and opened buildings, and I have seen changes to venues when the Title XI and ADA laws came into play in the mid-1990s. However, my greatest achievement was reopening Nationals Park after the 2020 season.”
She added, “When the park finally opened up, social distance seating was in place, we watched our fans return, and we were finally able to fully celebrate our 2019 World Series Championship. Watching families and friends return to the park and create new memories after a trying and difficult year and a half made all the late nights worth it.”
In addition to succeeding in her career, Murphy has helped bring other ticketing professionals together to network and learn.
“Lori recently led the revitalization of our local INTIX regional in the Washington, D.C., area and has taken on a leadership role within that organization,” a supporter said. “Since the restart, the group has become much more active, and many local ticketing professionals have shared their excitement about this opportunity to connect. Like INTIX, being a part of this peer group is priceless and [provides] further opportunity for ticketing professionals.”
IMPACT Award — Jack Lucas
In addition to our annual awards honorees, INTIX was delighted to recognize Jack Lucas as its sixth IMPACT Award recipient in Las Vegas.
The IMPACT Award is given at the discretion of the INTIX Board Chair to recognize an individual, organization or partner that has provided continuous, consistent, extraordinary and exemplary service and support to INTIX. The award acknowledges the lasting impact on our members and the live event ticketing industry. To date, the award has been bestowed upon:
- 2019 — Linda Deckard, a public and passionate supporter of INTIX through Amusement Business and Venues Today/VenuesNow. Deckard recently came out of retirement to join IAVM as editor of Venue Professional magazine.
- 2020 — Jim Walcott, who retired as President of Weldon, Williams & Lick (WW&L) that year. Walcott passed away in 2023 and will always be remembered for his many contributions.
- 2021 — Albert Leffler, co-founder and employee No. 1 of Ticketmaster.
- 2022 — Bruno Boehi, the former CEO of ShoWare, now President of Operations at accesso.
- 2023 — Patricia G. Spira, to posthumously honor the INTIX founder and her legacy. The award was accepted by her children, Ann Spira, Ellen Spira Hattenbach and Dr. Jim Spira.
- 2023 — Angela Miles-Powell, Regional Vice President of Venues and Promoters at Ticketmaster.
There are many words that come to mind when thinking about Jack Lucas. Though he retired in 2018, his name resonates as a visionary, luminary and legend who spent 40+ years in the business, received numerous industry accolades and helped to build WestCoast Entertainment and TicketsWest into impressive industry success stories.
“There are a handful of people over the years who have made an indelible mark on INTIX. Jack Lucas is part of that small and impactful group,” Jenifer LaMorte, Chair of the INTIX Board and the INTIX Awards Committee, said. “He shows leadership by example through his service to INTIX and in his career, building an entertainment business and advocating for the ticketing professional. His contributions to INTIX’s code of ethics have stood the test of time. And Jack always operates with kindness and warmth.”
Jenifer LaMorte and Jack Lucas.
Similar to most professionals in our industry, ticketing found Lucas and steered him toward the path he was born to journey. He honed his skills of perseverance, creativity, fearlessness, entrepreneurship and accepting challenges as opportunities well before finding our industry. Among his stops along the way, he tested his skills as a fledging promoter, worked in a legal office, hosted an evening radio newscast and started a country band. Lucas did all of this on an aircraft carrier while on a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy.
His ticketing journey became clearer when he found his way to the Spokane Coliseum as a part-time usher by night while working as a full-time public school music teacher by day. From there, Lucas moved quickly up the venue ranks to house manager and venue manager. Then ticketing called, his path was set, and a new partnership was formed to create one of the United States’ first computerized ticketing outlet and distribution networks staring with just four employees and three clients.
Lucas learned ticketing from the bottom up by doing the hard work — selling tickets, installing ticket printers, managing the books, hiring and training staff, promoting the business, serving clients, managing outlets and learning the ropes. There isn’t a segment of this business that he has not worked including the performing arts, professional sports, concerts, college athletics, festivals, clubs, rodeos and even campgrounds. He has serviced clients at performing arts centers, arenas, clubs, universities, grocery stores, baseball fields and ski slopes. Lucas also branched out to become a Broadway producer and promoter. Even when people told him he was nuts, he put Broadway musicals in containers and shipped them to Hawaii and Alaska, not once but multiple times. He forged relationships and grew a network of colleagues to last a lifetime.
The business, TicketsWest, grew to encompass clients across the West in Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Montana, Iowa, Oregan, Washington, Idaho and California. From Broadway to fairgrounds, Lucas created jobs for people. He paid them fairly, taught them, encouraged them, mentored them and brought them to BOMI and INTIX to learn and expand their wings. Over time, he created multiple generations of ticketing professionals, many who are attending INTIX 2024 in Las Vegas. He has been directly responsible for growing industry pros with careers in ticketing, marketing, booking, promotion, finance, venue management, PR, sales and service.
When it came time for Lucas to retire, he worked for three years to find the right partner and to create the right acquisition of not only the company but the people, ensuring jobs, security and client and customer longevity. As a result of his efforts, WestCoast Entertainment and TicketsWest were acquired by Paciolan in October 2017.
Lucas attended his first BOMI conference, coincidentally here in Las Vegas, and his 36-year-long relationship with INTIX began. Founder Patricia Spira came quickly calling for Lucas’ help, which marked the beginning of his continuous and consistent service and support to INTIX. He made sure that a conference went on and that a terminally ill member was given the support to fulfill their dream of hosting a conference in their hometown. Lucas became a vendor and exhibitor. He sponsored conferences and programming. He showed up, gave time and resources and always said, “Yes, what I can do to help.”
Yet with all that said, Lucas’ most important legacy and impact to INTIX began in 1991 in Ottawa, Canada, when he attended a BOMI Standards and Ethics summer conference. The committee came out of the conference with one task, to create a code of ethics. Now known as the “father” of the INTIX Code of Ethics, Lucas made sure that this important work was completed in 1993. It still stands 30 years later, not needing to be rewritten or revamped because of the enormous effort that went into creating it decades ago.
In his own words: “It was really important … that we think about ethics in our business because if we do not think about it, nobody else is … Ethics are important … I thought we needed to put something in place to guide us in our day-to-day interactions with producers and promoters so that, if nothing else, we could walk away with our heads held high, that we abided by the ethics that we put in place.”
“When an individual has made such a positive imprint on our collective industry and on INTIX, it is important for us to say thank you and to recognize with gratitude those contributions,” LaMorte added. “INTIX is only successful by the hard work and dedication of its members. People like Jack are our beacons that show what selfless leadership and dedication to INTIX look like.”
Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award — Russ Stanley
INTIX’s highest honor is The Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2024 recipient is Russ Stanley, SVP of Ticket Sales and Services, San Francisco Giants. This award is given annually to a member who has consistently and measurably contributed to the standards of excellence in the ticketing and live event industry. The recipient has shown consistent dedication to the ongoing promotion, support and development of INTIX, its membership and mission.
Certain words immediately come to mind when thinking about Russ Stanley — innovator, achiever, mentor, educator and hard worker. Many will recognize him as the creative force behind multiple industry firsts. These include launching an integrated secondary marketplace for Giants season ticket holders a year before StubHub came on the scene.
“We introduced the Double Play Ticket Window, which allowed season ticket holders to resell seats they could not use. This was the program StubHub mirrored when they opened in 2001,” Stanley said in support of his application. “Double Play allowed us to renew at over 90% for many years. We also installed barcode scanners at the turnstiles, which enabled us to run our Double Play Ticket Window and provide fans a safe and secure place to buy and sell tickets.”
Stanley also led the way in introducing dynamic pricing when, in 2009, the Giants began to dynamically price 2,000 seats that were not owned by season ticket holders. This test formed the groundwork for a full dynamic pricing rollout in 2010.
“INTIX has been a safe place to ask for help,” Stanley said. “I have brought industry-changing topics to my peers for advice and guidance. Specifically, the resale of tickets and dynamic pricing. Both were controversial and created a lot of feedback that helped guide our decision making.”
Others know Stanley as a humble leader who always seeks to give back. He helped start the INTIX sports breakout sessions, providing programming and presenting sessions so others could benefit from his expertise. At a time when INTIX attendees were largely from the arts, this created a more balanced representation of the industry at the annual conference. He has mentored others, is a frequent speaker at other industry events and helped to start BAPTA (Bay Area Professional Ticketing Association), where he is currently a board member at large.
“Russ embodies all that is good in the live entertainment ticketing space,” a nominator said. “He is an early adopter and industry leader who has paved the road time and time again for others to follow. He leads by listening, caring and concluding through a thoughtful analytical process. Russ is always open to learning more, and he has an understanding that there may be several right ways to do something. He is a people person who always has time for staff, friends, fans or anyone who is fortunate enough to spend time with him. He believes that his staff is the key to any success he may realize, and he provides the opportunity for them to grow.”
Stanley has also grown significantly since he began his career with the Giants in 1989 after graduating from college. Since then, he has risen through the ranks and ticketed thousands of regular season and many post-season (including the World Series) games, plus concerts, bowl games, tournaments and more.
“From October 2010 until April 2016, we sold out 530 consecutive games — the longest stretch in National League history,” Stanley said. “We were able to accomplish this by properly pricing tickets and designing creative special events and promotions. It didn't hurt that the team was pretty good during that span.”
Indeed, the Giants won three World Series championships during that time, in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
In parallel, Stanley cares deeply for his ticketing team and recognizes the importance of a sound mind and body. To that end, Stanley has helped organize and supported many health-related events for crew members who choose to participate. The customer experience is always top of mind, too.
“[Russ] empowers his team to make decisions on the fly and with the thought that if they do what is right for the customer, you are most likely going to be right every time,” a nominator said. “If they misstep and make the wrong decision, he kindly discusses it with them to make sure they don't repeat the mistake in the future. He lets them know that it is OK to make a mistake as long as you don't continue to make it over and over again.”
What Stanley does repeat is innovation and success. He is currently considering a flex package to better meet customers' needs as season ticket sales have decreased industrywide. Also, the Giants’ 415 membership is a program to attract young ticket buyers. The fan community is located 415 feet from home plate in the center field bleachers and offers special perks such as DJs and more in a supporters' atmosphere.
In addition to more recent successes, Stanley is proud of his past contributions.
“I think I am most proud of forming the first client relations team that had a sales focus when renewing season ticket holders,” Stanley said. “I hired Annmarie Hastings and together we built a team of retention experts who became ‘friends’ with our best customers.”
In 1996, the Giants began selling charter seats to help fund the first privately financed ballpark since Dodger Stadium in 1960. Stanley was part of the team that developed the program, benefits and pricing. Ultimately, the team would generate almost $50 million in revenue, which allowed the Giants to break ground on the new ballpark that opened in 2000.
The Giants' ticketing team was named Outstanding Ticket Office the following year at the 2001 INTIX Conference & Exhibition. In 2010, Stanley was named Outstanding Ticketing Professional. To this day, he continues to demonstrate leadership by advancing and promoting the ticketing industry, the ticketing profession and ticketing professionals.
“Throughout my career, I feel that I have helped ticketing professionals to be more than someone in the box office,” Stanley said. “We now have a seat at the table.”
Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX Awards