Leadership / 09.24.19
Jo Michel’s Ticketing Career Is Up and Above in the Land Down Under
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Jo Michel has more than two decades of experience in the ticketing industry in Australia and the United Kingdom, and the list of organizations that she’s worked with over the years has tied her into some of the most noteworthy events Down Under and “across the pond” of that time span — the Sydney 2000 Olympics Arts Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, the Brisbane Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Australian Opera, The Adelaide Fringe and so many more.
In particular, she has worked as a consultant with these and other organizations and outlets to utilize best practices with their software solutions. She has extensive experience on the software side of the industry, having been a Project Manager with Priava, a Sales Manager with AudienceView and a Business Development Manager with Enta Australasia. More recently, she has been working with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in the role of Client Relationship Manager. But her latest venture is spearheading the Ticketing Professionals Australia Conference, a two-day event that will be held Nov. 14 -15 at Bankwest Stadium in Western Sydney.
“I’ve been wanting to curate a conference for ticketing professionals in Australia since I started going to Europe Talks Tickets (ETT) back in the early 2000s,” she says. “We did have a conference for a few years, which was led by a great colleague and friend of mine, Tim Roberts, in conjunction with Stage Queensland. The Ticketing Professionals Australia Conference ran from 2004 for about seven years until Tim died unexpectedly.”
Then, at the INTIX Conference in New Orleans two years ago, Michel was one of only two Australian delegates in attendance. It was there that she and Angela Gahan decided to bring a conference back to the Australian industry. They subsequently founded Mission Tickets to make this upcoming event a reality.
“The aim is to create an industry-led conference that educates and informs our industry by combining our knowledge and gathering the best from all over the globe together to talk ticketing for a couple of days,” Michel says. “It’s really about opening up the industry in Australia and the Asia/Pacific [region] to learning from each other about trends, best practices and new technologies. It’s going to be fun!”
Michel promises networking opportunities galore, along with sessions on everything from social responsibility and customer experience to digital trends and new technologies. For those attendees who come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn and share, the conference promises to be a productive one.
“I love ticketing and, most of all, I love sharing experiences with my colleagues and peers,” Michel says, “so I am excited to see the networking and sharing of ideas that has been missing from our local industry. I can’t wait to have our colleagues from the arts sharing their stories with the sports guys and girls. That’s what makes us work better and smarter: sharing our stories, challenges and ideas with each other. We want to be reasonably broad in our approach, but this is an education-led conference. So, the topics that are relevant to the industry today will be the focus.”
The speakers and seminars that will center around technology should prove among the most appealing to the ticketing pros who will be in attendance. For Michel, the advances in tech have been among the biggest changes in the business since she’s started. She says, “Technology changes have indeed been huge. But the essence of what we do hasn’t really changed. Our goal is still to find ways to ensure our customers and visitors have the best experience at our events and venues. We used to greet them at the ticket office and sell them a paper ticket. Now, our presence is not as visible, but it’s still there, and it’s our responsibility to provide that same level of customer service in a different way.”
For Michel, her biggest challenge with the conference and throughout her career has been managing expectations. “We’ve become really good at analyzing buying patterns, pricing and using technology to plan and ensure tickets for our events are available to the right people at the right time and price,” she says. “But when things don’t go according to plan — maybe the website crashed, or tickets didn’t sell so quickly or sell out — the expectation that the ticket office either did something or will fix it is still there. We still need to manage the public’s expectations as well as the expectations of internal stakeholders, in many cases, and that’s hard.”
When times have gotten challenging in her career, Michel has called on the advice of those who’ve inspired her. One of the most prominent has been Pat Boggs, who she describes as a “pioneer” in the ticketing world, having overseen ticket sales and operations for many of Australia’s most prominent venues and major productions. Indeed, Boggs has worked on more than 140 shows in a career that’s spanned over decades.
“Two of Pat’s most famous sayings were ‘People who never make mistakes don’t do any work’ and ‘There are no problems only solutions,’” Michel says. “I had the absolute honor of working with Pat early in my career, and these sayings have stuck with me. She challenged me to be better every day, and she has encouraged me whenever I’ve moved on to new roles. I believe that this mantra has shaped the way I view situations and made me often step back and examine all positions before moving forward.”
Michel feels it’s especially important for women in ticketing to have such role models. When asked what advice she would have to young women just entering or thinking of working in the ticketing industry today, she was quick to answer. “Just do it!” she exclaimed. “My experience is that women rule in ticketing. The environment in other businesses doesn’t always allow women to shine. Ticketing, I believe, values the characteristics that we bring: multitasking, lateral thinking and patience are all so necessary. The ticketing industry also encourages women to be leaders and learn other business-related skills that are valuable in all industries. I wouldn’t work in any other industry now.”
Finally, she also credits the International Ticketing Association for contributing to her success. “INTIX has been hugely important to me and my career,” she concludes. “I joined in 1997-98, as there wasn’t a local organization that talked about ticketing. I guess I was looking for like-minded people. It took me a long time to get to an INTIX conference. My first was 2017 in New Orleans. But, by then, I was already on at least one committee. The ability to share information across the membership [has been invaluable]. I now call so many of the people I have met through INTIX my friends. I cherish these relationships that started as professional and now are both personal and professional.”
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Tags: Arts , Leadership