Leadership / 05.03.23
Saffire’s Amy Pelzl: A Totally Awesome Ticketing Pro Since ‘84
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
The year was 1984. Ronald Reagan was president, the Summer Olympics were in Los Angeles, and the Jacksons’ “Victory” tour was the hottest concert ticket in the land. Back then, one of the premier venues to see a concert live was the Astrodome in Houston. And that was where and when Amy Pelzl started her ticketing career.
She says, “My first job was indeed at the Astrodome. It was actually in the cellar of the Astrodome where Ticketmaster’s offices were. It was a part-time gig that I fell into.”
In total, she worked for three different Ticketmaster offices in Houston over a 10-year span. She eventually left the company and got involved with professional sports. Her first stop was ticketing for the inaugural season of the Houston Aeros, a pro ice hockey team that played in the International Hockey League and the American Hockey League. She also worked for the Compaq Center. In all, she spent about 20 years working the ticketing and live events scene of Houston.
Texas A&M University in College Station eventually beckoned, though. The university was opening up a brand-new arena at the time, and Pelzl was hired to be the Ticket Manager. She worked for Texas A&M for 10 years. “I was eventually looking for a change and to get back on the vendor side,” she says. “So, I reached out to a friend and started working for a company called ExtremeTix. That’s where I found my true passion. We had a lot of fair clients, and I just fell in love with the fair/festival ops scene. I loved being out with the people, and that’s how I ended up at Saffire.”
Saffire is a software company based in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon. It specializes in providing events, venues and destinations with a simple, interactive platform for websites and ticketing. Pelzl is its Ticketing Team Lead. She says, “I came over to the company to work sales. But I quickly found that my passion is operations. I like ‘making it happen.’ I go out on-site a lot. I travel a lot. I work some of the biggest fairs and festivals and events in the country and make sure everything is running smoothly.”
She continues, “Technically, I am an account manager. I have multiple accounts that are assigned to me. So, I like to problem solve. Actually, I love to problem solve! My best days are when things are going to hell in a handbasket! Any day where I’m on a golf cart a lot is a good day. When things get crazy, I know I can go in and help solve problems. Where my brain works best is where it is chaotic. I get hyper-focused and get things back on track to run smoothly again.”
But the job is not without its challenges, especially for someone who started in 1984. Challenge No. 1? Technology. “As an official Baby Boomer, even though I work in the field of technology, I still struggle with putting all of the processes in place,” she says. “So, I am grateful for the many ‘ages-under-me’ co-workers who help me. It’s kind of become a joke. ‘Oh, gosh! Amy has another process to learn. There’s another new app.’ We’re a service company, so we have to use all of these up-to-date apps to keep it all organized.”
The fact that Saffire is more than a ticketing company helped it immensely in surviving the COVID-19 era. On the technology side, Saffire prides itself on making it easy for its clients to have a website that they can manage themselves, with integrated ticketing if needed. Because Saffire is specific to the event, venue and destination industries, its features provide everything a client needs and nothing that it doesn’t.
Pelzl says, “During COVID, Saffire was still able to keep a lot of things going. We definitely had to pivot and do a lot of the online events. But because we’re a website provider, we were able to make a lot of that happen. As for in-person fairs and rodeos, we had some markets that barely closed down at all. We’re nationwide, and so my rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, was like, ‘Nope! We’re still going!’ But in upstate Washington, they were shut down the entire time.”
She says, “There was a definite ebb and flow. We just kept our heads down and kept going. I onboarded a bunch of people during the pandemic, so I was never without work. There was plenty to do. It was just different. Also, I’ve worked from home for 15 years. So, it wasn’t a new experience for me. I have clients all over the country, and they don’t care where my desk is.”
Because of her industry veteran status, Pelzl is often called upon to be a mentor. At the same time, she is also looked to for her calm and steady hand at the proverbial wheel. She says, “One of the things that I say a lot and pass on to people younger than me is, ‘No lives will be lost. It’s just ticketing. Just take a breath, and make it happen.’ What we do is important. But it’s not brain surgery. The people will come regardless. One of my jobs as the Ticketing Team Lead is that I do get to mentor the younger ones who are coming in. I love it, because I can tell them, ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK. Things will get bumpy. Yeah, you didn’t do that perfectly. But it’s OK! Stay the course, maintain confidence in yourself. You’re doing a good job, and the important thing is . . . you care!’ As long as your heart is in the right spot, the rest will work itself out.”
Looking ahead, Pelzl is full of optimism and, yes, youthful energy for the work to be done. She concludes, “I love the summer because we get super-busy. I’m looking forward to going out to Medford, Oregon, to work a big Carrie Underwood/Eric Church show. I can’t wait for that one. And I just got my third and final son married! So, life is settling in a bit. I am learning a better work-life balance and to take a little more time for the good stuff.”
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Tags: Leadership , GTKY