Leadership / 09.29.21
Matthew Zarracina Pilots True Tickets Through Pandemic Times
Matthew “Matt” Zarracina has led True Tickets through good times and tough times. Right now, he is leading this contactless digital ticketing startup out of the pandemic times.
His planning and preparation started very early on in the COVID-19 crisis. In March 2020, he and his management staff started weekly email communications with employees and the broader True Tickets network. “That created a level of communication that helped us do two critical things,” he says. “First, it provided transparency in terms of the direction of the company, instilling comfort for those connected with True Tickets. Second, it built an avenue for increased engagement among those who could help us navigate the situation. We remained deliberate, thoughtful and strategic in our decision-making, even if it was done at a more accelerated pace.”
Now, with more and more live events back on, True Tickets is in good position to help the paying public with their ticket-buying needs. “Our company is aligned with both where the industry is now and where it is heading very quickly,” he says. “Not only are we a digital and contactless ticket delivery service, but we provide our clients with what is essentially AML [anti-money laundering (i.e., fraud prevention)] and Know Your Customer [or KYC (i.e., fan or patron identification)], which is critical in this new normal to operate effectively.”
Even limited seating capacities at some events have not deterred True Tickets’ efforts. The company’s service and revenue model is aligned with a subscription business-to-business enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. “That means we are not subject to ticket volume risk,” Zarracina says, “and, to a degree, the seating capacity limitations and fluidity with which they change are something our service helps our clients handle in a much more elegant and efficient way. They can simply reseat, update tickets and communicate with actual attendees as well as manage events in near real time and not have to worry about physical or other types of tickets that introduce risk or issues into their operations.”
Before co-founding True Tickets, Zarracina served as a Director of Innovation in Thales Group’s “Thales xPlor.” Prior to xPlor, he was a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting where he spearheaded growth, mergers and acquisitions, and innovation projects. Zarracina also served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy.
Throughout our interview, he would reference his past military service and how it has positively impacted his success in the private sector. He would answer a question and then add, “That reminds me of a phrase a senior Navy pilot told me about flying: ‘Smooth is quick, and quick is fast.’ That applies in business, as well!”
Or when asked what has been the biggest test of your leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, he replied, “In 2007, I remember being in the Strategic Operations Center in Baghdad after a particularly bad day. General Petraeus was commenting on recent events, and he closed his remarks by saying no day is ever as bad as it seems, and no day is ever as good as it seems. As the CEO of a digital first startup in ticketing and events, COVID-19 has been very challenging because of the sheer scope and scale of the unknowns. Information is imperfect, and many correct decisions are only known in hindsight. Balancing those unknowns with the need to make decisions in an uncertain environment while leading a team is just tough. I’m fortunate to have the team I have at True Tickets because they have brought, and continue to bring, their best selves to work every day.”
Zarracina also confesses to being a bit of a “tech head.” He likes to keep up to date on the latest ticketing and business technologies. “Many of the new innovations have already emerged: mobile, digital, access controls, biometrics, live streaming, even NFTs have been around since 2017,” he says. “What is going to be interesting going forward is how this industry starts to integrate all these individual tools in more comprehensive ways to engage patrons and fans. The opportunity in the next decade is in how organizations in this industry stitch all these technologies together to create a sound digital engagement strategy. That will dictate how the industry can really begin to realize the benefits, both for the industry in terms of revenue and engagement and for patrons or fans in terms of truly curated content.”
Looking to the future, Zarracina expresses optimism for where the business is headed. “Unlike the past 18 months,” he says, “our industry now has a pathway forward for sustainable operations and is committed. We simply can’t afford to shut down for an extended period of time again. We’ll have to manage the situation for the foreseeable future. I’ve seen first-hand the amount of transformation and change management our clients are taking broadly, and it is truly impressive both how committed they are to it and how well they are executing on it.”
He concludes, “The future is decidedly digital. Some of those changes are long overdue. Some of the changes are going to be very noticeable. Some will be very subtle. The constant is the shift and acceleration to digital, which means, especially as it relates to ticketing, how this industry operated in the past will not be how it operates in the future.”
You May Also Like
Want news like this delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to the Access Weekly newsletter, your ticket to industry excellence.
Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus