Leadership / 01.20.22
Magic Is Everywhere at INTIX: Highlights from Day One
There is something magical about being in a room with hundreds of ticketing professionals during a pandemic. They — as well as our industry colleagues who could not be here this year — are the people who created the experiences and technology that has helped power the return to LIVE.
The reminder that we are back making live event magic is everywhere at the conference in Orlando.
“You can come home again, and it is wonderful to see you,” said Maureen Andersen, INTIX President and CEO, in her opening remarks. “You are what makes this work — human beings coming together just like your audiences and your fans. They came back, they are coming back … and we will return to some form of normalcy better than we were.”
After INTIX’s favorite auctioneer Zack Krone took the stage to share our important conference health and safety protocols, reminding everyone to pay attention for updates because COVID-19 changes like Kardashian relationships, Andersen turned the stage over to our opening keynote speaker.
Alex Martins, CEO of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, joined television and media professional Marianne Banister in a lively interview sponsored by Ticketmaster to discuss how the team has made magic on and off the court.
Discussing the team’s ability to thrive during the global health challenges, Martins credited great employees, great leaders and being a very close-knit staff.
“Our business has done very well,” Martins said. “All of our fans have not come back yet, but financially the business has continued to thrive. That is because our employees who are able to work from home continue to keep their relationships with their client bases, whether it was season ticket holders, suite holders or global partners. In every one of those categories — not so much in tickets from a volume standpoint but definitely from a yield standpoint, from a global partnership standpoint and a premium partnership standpoint — they grew our business over the course of the last two years.”
Martins spoke about the Magic’s technology, saying those advances are here to stay.
“We have an innovation lab as part of our organization, and we have an innovation team … [as well as] hackathons and design thinking around our business. We really did start very early on into the digital realm, and we were fortunate that we were very much into it as COVID-19 hit, so we were prepared, and it was not a transition for us,” he said. “We were already doing digital ticketing. At that point, it was just a matter of educating and making [everyone] … comfortable with it because we did get to a point where everything was touchless. It was an adjustment for some of our fans; it is still an adjustment for some of our fans.”
COVID-19, said Martins, has taught us to be incredibly nimble, incredibly resilient and to pivot on a daily basis.
“Kudos to our league … and to the majority in our industry who have done it. Particularly this past year, we have been able to keep the show going and keep entertainment at least going — not back to the level it was before, but certainly we are seeing more concerts coming to the Amway Center than in any year since we have been open because most artists are touring. Everybody wants their entertainment back.”
In closing, Martins said, “I am an optimist. I always have been. I think we can get through anything. We have a lot of smart people working at the Orlando Magic and in our league. Flexibility is not a choice anymore. As an industry, we have to be flexible in every single way to be successful moving forward … flexible with the way our staff works, with the way we deliver our product to our fans, and to react to change on a daily basis. It has now become a daily requirement.”
After the opening keynote, the conference sessions kicked off with four important discussions.
Erin Koppel, Chief Strategy Officer of Tessitura, led an interactive, Tessitura-sponsored workshop on “Transformation Through CRM,” detailing how customer relationship management (CRM), when done right, becomes so much more than just an operational need. With Koppel leading the way, a full room of ticketing professionals examined their customer journeys, analyzed key milestones and learned how to map out a path toward digital transformation.
“Organizations need to strip away what is really happening,” Koppel said. “Not everybody is going to go on a nice, linear journey. They may show up [and make] a streaming purchase. Great, they are here, they have arrived, but what happens next? And some people may end in the same place; they may end making a streaming purchase, but that is all they ever did. Or we have the long tail where nothing happens again until [the show] they streamed comes live to your venue three years from now and then they come back again.”
When you are creating a roadmap, said Koppel, think about the various touch points for a patron. After the entry points, consider the logical next step they should be taking to become closer to your organization.
“Always be thinking about what comes next. You are drawing them closer,” she said. “Next, do you even have enough information to move them from X to Y? Sometimes that answer is no. Then your first step is to go back and try to find it. What is the end point for the audiences? Are there places where people get lost? Are there milestones that do not connect or paths that lead to dead ends where we are really not thinking about those folks anymore? You do not want to do that. As you are thinking about this, start [by listing what] products and offerings your roadmap will include … [and not just] things that are on the stage.”
Koppel also talked attendees through thinking about milestones that allow you to set goals, plus identifying measures and metrics that show how you are performing.
In “The Sports World Now” session, sponsored by Ticketmaster, sports ticketing professionals talked about a variety of issues relating to the pandemic, from how they reacted and necessary pivots to what teams are doing to move full-steam ahead. Everything from crypto, bringing staff back on-site and vaccine requirements were on the minds of attendees in a jam-packed room.
“We looked at [the pandemic] as an opportunity to rip the Band-Aid off on some of the offerings we have been steering toward,” said Daren Mitch, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Phoenix Suns/Footprint Center, who joined the session remotely. “For example, digital ticketing was teetering around 75 or 85% of our tickets before COVID-19. This was a perfect opportunity for us to go full-steam ahead with mobile ticketing, and we are now at 99.8% of tickets being digital.”
Mitch also detailed a partnership with PayPal through which a preferred vendor is enabling Suns fans to load Mastercard gift cards that can be used at the game or anywhere that Mastercard is accepted.
Truist Park in Atlanta has gone cashless, too — for everything. Prepaid debit cards can be loaded through reverse ATMs in various locations throughout the venue, said Anthony Esposito, Senior Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Atlanta Braves. Fans can then use them both in and outside the venue.
“We did about half-million dollars in cash conversion throughout the season,” he said, adding that they are also loading added value on tickets for groups, including summer camps.
In San Francisco, an ordinance prevents the Golden State Warriors from going cashless, so they have cash-to-card machines on-site and advertise as being a “contactless” venue. “[Cashless payments are] encouraged but not mandatory,” said Stevie Gray, Vice President of Ticket Operations.
Josh Ziegenbusch, Senior Director of Service and Retention for the Oakland Athletics, said concessions lines are moving faster when fans use cashless methods of payment. He also raised the benefits of not using cash, from cost savings due to the reduced need for cash trucks to the ability to raise prices and add tax versus including it in concessions items.
“A beer can be $9.17 now and people just pay with their credit card instead of having to price based on quarters and dollars,” Ziegenbusch said.
The Patron Technology team presented remotely on “What It Means to Create Tomorrow’s Events Today,” sharing the organization’s philosophy on taking a unified approach to event experiences and how that can help you stay two steps ahead.
“As an industry, we need to be data driven,” said Doug Lyons, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing for Patron Technology. “People talk about data a lot, but it is all about that. One of the reasons we are so big on a unified platform is we want to make sure that the data is in a state and a place where it can be easily actioned. Everyone knows and, as we have said all along, one of the premises of our company is unified data and unified solutions, because anytime you try to consolidate data there is complexity, potential errors, potential problems, security — all these things that you need to factor in.”
Lyons continued, “Our philosophy is, as we go forward, having better ways to manage data as you collect it, especially all the great new data that we are now able to get, is important. We have to optimize on that and keep our eyes on how we continue … both in collecting new data and also staying on top of security and regulations.”
In “Digital Lifelines: From Edinburgh to Edmonton,” attendees heard case studies that included details of first-time ticketed digital experiences for audiences of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Fringe Theatre Adventures.
Lyndsey Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, revealed how they supported artists to generate revenue, protecting their ability to maximize both their ticket sales revenue and their audiences, while allowing others to choose to showcase their work for free, for a donation or under a pay-what-you-want basis.
“The assumption in 2020 was that people would not pay for digital content of this nature, that there was too much high-quality free content out there,” said Jackson, who added that the National Theatre in London, for example, produced a series pre-pandemic, then streamed the cinema-quality content at no cost on YouTube. “You cannot compete in that market with that kind of content was the assumption … so we were really keen to put in place a structure, facilities and technologies that would support artists who wanted to charge for this work and to find audiences.”
Edinburgh Festival Fringe was equally unsure as to whether or not people would pay for fringe works, but the end result was that 14,500 tickets were purchased for digital content out of a total 395,000 festival tickets issued.
Exhibition Hall Opening
The exhibition hall was buzzing with excitement as it opened to showcase the very best solutions our industry has to offer.
Tix Ticketing has everyone talking, and it is not only about their box office Lego set, which everyone is clamoring to get their hands on.
Derek Younger, Director of Sales and Ticketing Services at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was impressed to hear Sindri Már Finnbogason, founder and CEO at Tix Ticketing, speak from the heart today during an afternoon session. In his presentation, Finnbogason shared that he recently had a stroke and then encouraged attendees to take care of themselves and of each other.
“It was a real breath of fresh air to hear him say to all of us, ‘Remember the things that are important. We all work so hard. It is a very difficult time for our industry, but we still need to take care of ourselves and each other.’ When you have a founder of a company [presenting] and their session is about how they want to make sure the industry as a whole and their users are taken care of, and it is not a sales pitch but an honest evaluation, [that really stood out to me]. It was very personal for him, and I think it became very personal for everyone else. This could happen to any of us because we all work very hard and do not take enough time for ourselves. It led me to come and see the [Tix Ticketing] demo because if he approaches everything in his life and his work in that way, it is something you want to look at.”
Younger continued, “I came to the Tix Ticketing booth to have a demo because sometimes the motto doesn’t match the software, [but in this case], it does. It is very simplistic for the patron, and that is something that I really like. You always want to see, in any ticketing platform that you choose for your patrons, how simple is it, how easy it is for them to purchase tickets, check their accounts and do what they want to do online. So far, I have seen a lot of that and I like it.”
Beyond sharing the importance of work-life balance, Finnbogason wants the ticketing community to know that Tix Ticketing is about simplicity, honesty and transparency.
“I have been doing ticketing for over 20 years, and I have seen how software has become better, but I think a lot of it is also [at a] standstill. We are really focussed on trying to solve difficult tasks … in a short amount of time, and we do it with a lot of passion. We really like what we are doing; we are extremely proud of it. We have been very successful in Europe, but we want to try the U.S. market, and we are getting really good feedback. Ticketing can be complex, but you can solve things in a simple way. It does not have to be that difficult, like it is with many people.
And what does Finnbogason most want the INTIX community to know about Tix Ticketing?
“We are a very honest company,” he said. “We are very open about who we are, what we can do and what we cannot do. We do not promise anything that we can’t deliver. We deliver everything that we say we will, and we do it on time. We do not want to do too much at the same time. We are not trying to be the biggest company, but we want to be the best one. We are extremely honest; you can ask me anything, but we are also complete ticketing nerds.”
For more than 12 years, Allianz Partners has collaborated with INTIX members of all sizes and genres, offering peace of mind for consumers via event ticket insurance for single-day events, multiday events, event series, amusement park passes and more.
“Our event ticket insurance helps to convert customers … and offers a revenue stream for our partners as well as security for the consumers. Whether it is for the arts, sports, concerts or any live ticketed event, it is applicable anytime there is a pre-paid, nonrefundable event; we are here to help protect it,” said Emily Hartman, Chief of Business Teams for Allianz Partners.
Hartman continued, “Consumers have always said that they want this option. We see a good healthy adoption in a normal, pre-COVID-19 world. In a post-COVID-19 world, consumers are dedicated to their live events. They want to go. They want to be back in seats. Consumers are saying they want to go, but if you are going to give them the option to protect their ticket, they are going to take you up on it.”
ExperienceNow is at INTIX showcasing its digital segmentation, verification and personalization technology, which helps to drive more revenue and is applicable for sports teams, concerts, zoos, aquariums, ticketing platforms and more.
“We allow people to segment different eligibility groups online: seniors, students, teachers, health care workers, age-based [groups] such as millennials and residents from certain areas. [This can] easily be implemented on a ticketing platform or website [to offer] gated access to special programs so you can create a direct relationship with important segments that you service,” said Tony Farwell, Chairman and CEO of ExperienceNow. “Almost everyone who is here is a candidate to use our technology. It is very easy to embed, and there is no IT development necessary to implement it.”
True Tickets announced it raised $5 million in a seed funding round. The round was led by Logitix, a ticketing technology company that maximizes sales for venues, teams and promoters.
“This is a major milestone and validation of everything we’ve done so far,” said Matt Zarracina, CEO of True Tickets. “From a growth perspective, we now have a partner in Logitix that will help us pursue the broader in-person events space. Our controlled distribution capability allows venues to place more rules around how fans access in-person events and do so at scale. Combined with Logitix’s suite of solutions, to include pricing and analytics, we can create a truly differentiated market offering to deliver exceptional in-person experiences for every fan from start to finish.”
Red61 announced its first U.S. client, FRIGID New York, which went on sale with events at their New York venues the Kraine Theater, Under St. Marks and digitally on Frigid TV. Red61 has been rapidly expanding in Canada over the last few years, and the emergence in the U.S. market is a natural progression for the company’s North American presence.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome FRIGID New York as our newest client, and we look forward to helping them grow their business as we expand ours. Strong partnerships have been key to our success from day one, and we believe this will be yet another key cornerstone,” said Jeff Koets, Chief Operating Officer of Red61.
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX 2022