Leadership / 06.30.21
Ticketing Pro Christy Grantham Talks Career Challenges and Hopes for the Future
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Christy Grantham says she most loves the “magic parts” of her job. “When there are just no seats available,” she says, “but then we make something happen, and we find the seats. I also love seeing parents bring their kids to concerts and musicals. The parents have this expression of anticipation, because they know what’s about to happen. But the kids have no idea their minds are about to be blown!”
And what is this magical job that Grantham has? She is Director of Ticketing for The Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina. As such, her duties and responsibilities currently include “working with our tours and renters to build their events, program promotions, provide reporting, and advise them on the best course to take with their on-sales and throughout their sales period.” She is also tasked with settling the Wilson Center’s various shows and making sure the venue’s processes for settlement are as tight and efficient as they can be. Grantham also oversees the training of staffers, and she makes sure they have the tools needed to answer any questions they may get. Finally, she and her staff work with Wilson’s marketing department to coordinate emails and promotions.
Grantham started in ticketing when she was still a college student, working at a Record Bar that doubled as a Ticketmaster outlet. After graduating with a degree in theatre arts, she moved to Wilmington in the late 1990s and worked part time as a backstage technician at a local auditorium. “Perhaps I wasn’t that great as a technician,” she says with a chuckle, “because the director approached me one day to see if I would be interested in working additional hours in the box office. I said, ‘Yes!’ I didn’t think I’d last long in an ‘office job.’ But I quickly found it suited me, and I enjoyed the detail and precision and making all of the numbers line up.”
After six months, she was promoted to Box Office Manager, and she stayed in that post for the next 15 years. “We used a DOS-based ticketing system, and I guided the transition to a Windows-based system and later a web-based one,” she says.
In 2014, she heard that a new performing arts center was opening up in Wilmington. “I decided I desperately needed a change of pace,” she says. “So, I applied for the Box Office Manager position, got the job, got promoted to Director of Ticketing, and I’ve been here since we opened in 2015.”
Along the way, she’s had her share of challenges. The biggest? “It was in the earlier part of my career,” she says, “when I didn’t really know many people in the profession, and no one used the ticketing system I was on. So, I felt like I had to make a lot of it up as I went along. I didn’t know INTIX existed. It seems crazy now, but I didn’t realize I could reach out to other ticketing offices and talk with them about how they did things. I didn’t realize how many of us just found ourselves in this profession, and that nearly all of us welcome discussion and opportunities to help each other out.”
Grantham has found that the ticketing biz is open to women achieving success. But she acknowledges that it could be better. “I think we’re doing well in the early stages of a career,” she says, “but we could certainly be doing better at encouraging women in the upper levels. I’ve been to several conferences where all or nearly all of the panelists were men, and I wondered, ‘Did no one notice when they were booking the panelists?’”
She continues, “I feel that we all do better when we have more diversity at the table: women, minorities, people from other countries and markets, and people with varying ability levels. Someone with a different perspective than you can see things that you don’t see. And when we build it for everybody, we all win.”
Grantham is very encouraging of young women who are entering the profession today, along with women who are new to ticketing who’ve come from other industries. “Make yourself more useful than you have been trained to be,” she says. “Offer solutions to problems or challenges that no one else in the office has noticed or talked about yet. ‘I noticed this issue and thought this solution might help.’ Be willing to do the work to implement that solution. And when you see that next opportunity, be ready to take it!”
Grantham says the challenge now facing all ticketing professionals is navigating the live events landscape post-pandemic. For the most part, she is hopeful. “I hope we’re allowing our humanity to show through more,” she says. “I know that it’s a business, and automation means we can move more tickets faster, etc. And that is a very good thing. But we still must be there, in person, on the phone, or on the other side of that email working with our neighbors who want to come to our show, or concert or game. We need to hear them and their concerns or complaints, and make adjustments for the next time.”
And with this hope, what is she most looking forward to in the second half of 2021? Certainly the performances the Wilson Center will be hosting, everything from “The Price Is Right LIVE!” to Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas show to concerts by the likes of Trace Adkins, Melissa Etheridge and ZZ Top.
But it’s more than just the events. “I’m looking forward to implementing all of the things I thought about while we were shut down,” she says. “We had a lot of time to think, to talk with each other, to plan strategically for the future. We’re still in the reopening phase, and it feels like some days the goal is to just get through it. But we’re getting our legs under us now, and we have this great opportunity to open better and stronger. So, when our guests, tours and renters come back, they’ll see that we’ve been busy!”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing