Leadership / 02.11.20
Patricia Pratt Continues to Build a Sterling Reputation at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Patricia Pratt began working part time as a ticket seller at the BankcorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi. She found she really enjoyed the work, but it was difficult at the time to pursue career advancement and juggle family life. After her children got older, she became a full-time employee in the ticket office. “When I was at a ticketing conference,” she says, “I was approached about interviewing for the Box Office Manager [position] at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater [in Alabama].” That was March 2012. She was hired and has held the position ever since.
The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is an outdoor venue used primarily for live music performances. Located minutes away from the University of Alabama campus, it boasts a seating capacity of 7,470. “My job includes building shows, selling tickets, sending out all of the box seat and select seat tickets, and maintaining relationships with our customers,” Pratt says. “I especially enjoy dealing with the tours; setting up the maps for the events; and, ultimately, selling the tickets at the box office window and getting to know the demographics of the people attending each show.”
Still, even eight years into the job, Pratt says the work continues to have its share of evolving challenges. “Dynamic pricing is new to me,” she says, “and it makes communicating ticket prices to the rest of the staff harder because it can change daily. I embrace change, but I do find this challenging. I also find so many different people giving me information on a show challenging. I typically like to work with the promoter who booked the show, but, recently, the tours are contacting me numerous times throughout the day, giving me different instructions on what to do. It just means that I have to verify and recheck everything with many different people, which takes time.”
Fortunately, there have been numerous success stories along the way. One of her proudest past feats was being chosen to direct the premium seat program when she was working at BancorpSouth Arena. “As far as I know, the program still exists. The program is somewhat like season tickets. The patrons pay for the right to have access to tickets before the public. If I remember correctly, it was called 'Save Your Seats.' An annual fee is paid for the privilege to have access to really good seats,” she says. “It was rewarding to me to seek out clients and build that into a very successful program for the arena.”
When asked if there was some advice given to her in that early part of her career that’s stuck with her, she was quick to answer. “Just like Las Vegas: What goes on in the industry, stays in the industry!” Pratt went on to list mobile ticketing as the biggest change she has seen since starting in the business. She also has been heartened by the number of women gaining career traction in the business and filling out so many positions of leadership and decision making.
“I would say the sky is the limit,” she says when asked about this progress. “Women are now in every aspect of the industry, as they should be. There are opportunities for women in ticketing sales today from big arenas to small amphitheaters and from large-scale sports stadiums to small clubs. It just depends on how big you dream as to what opportunities there will be for you in the future.
Pratt adds, “You can also be a representative for the ticket companies in the industry. If you have the desire and work hard, many people who start out in the ticketing area end up being the general manager of a facility due to their overall experience with tickets. If you don’t sell tickets, you don’t make money. Every event begins and ends with the box office.”
But, of course, every new generation needs its role models, its mentors and its “good advice givers.” Pratt is all three rolled into one. “I would tell anyone that asked me about starting out in the ticketing industry to listen and learn,” she says. “I would learn everything about the industry so that you understand, for example, if you have to cut seats when an artist wants a thrust in the pit. Understand the language and build relationships. Building relationships means coming to work on time, with a good attitude, and treating team members and customers with dignity and respect. If you tell somebody you are going to call them back, then call them back. Your word is all that you have. So, follow up, work hard and network.
She concludes, “That is the other aspect of this job. Networking! You will talk to so many different people working in the industry. Build a good reputation with each and every person that you work with so that when an opportunity comes along, the people who know you will be happy to recommend you for an opportunity.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing