Intix 2016: Ticket purchasing begins and ends online

One of the main themes at this year's International Ticketing Association's annual conference was ticketing technology.

Presentations about facial recognition software, radio-frequency identification and how to avoid chaos when your venue's Wi-Fi crashes, had attendees focusing on the fact that the pace of technological change will only increase. 

There were exciting 3d graphics that provide patrons with a view of their seat, the stage and the surroundings.  The look and feel draws from computer gaming technology and there's no doubt in my mind that 3d seat selection will become the industry standard, because it's the sort of technology driven experience that millennials expect. Naturally the 3d graphic seat maps look great on mobile phones.

Anwar Nasir, Audience Services Manager at Los Angeles Philharmonic, summed things up with this tweet:


Another theme I saw throughout the conference was the idea that we need to create experiences for our patrons, not just ticket purchasing opportunities.

Disruptive Technology

The opening keynote had attendees thinking about radical changes to the hotel reservation business (Airbnb), the taxi industry (Uber) and the cable industry (Netflix).

The National Theatre of Scotland, established in 2006, has a progressive business model. It has no theatre building of its own. Instead it tours performances to theatres, village halls, schools and site-specific locations across Scotland, the UK and internationally.

These forward thinking organizations are changing consumer habits, so it's time for ticketing professionals to be creative and get ahead of disruptive forces.

One way of doing so is to break down the concrete and glass walls of the traditional box office and recreate it with a concierge style approach to serving patrons.

Using the right customer relationship management tools, organizations can spend more time cultivating meaningful relationships with patrons by communicating with them personally - online and in your venue.

Gary Lustig, 2014 recipient of the Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award, cited the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Business Operations at the Seattle Symphony, Charllie Wade's, approach to customer service in this tweet:


Customer Relationship Management

Rise Walter, Director of Marketing, San Diego Opera, shared a heart wrenching story about the day the Opera's board of directors voted to cease operations and sell all assets.

Rise led an ad hoc team of "white knights" that worked to find an alternative to the impending closure.

The team's number one tool for unifying San Diego citizens, patrons and donors was the database. Digging deep into the data provided the "white knights" a road map to reach potential supporters.

In a two week period they organized a volunteer drive, membership meetings and an impromptu performance at City Hall.

Rise also noted the importance of rallying the local media to help spread the word about rejecting the board of directors' decision to close.

So it was no surprise that when 50 members of the Opera called on the City Council to help them save the 49-year-old institution it was reported on TV.


Eventually the board of directors voted to rescind the decision to close.

As well as saving the Opera, 134 lapsed subscriber households returned and 511 new subscriber households joined.

Andrew Thomas, Senior Consultant at the Ticketing Institute in South Wales UK, posted a tweet to remind us that our databases and CRM tools must be used for more than simply sales.


My presentation about social media marketing began with Jay Baer's notion of "humanizing" brands on social media as a first step towards creating meaningful experiences that get existing patrons thinking about your events and sharing their thoughts online to reach new audiences.

Email me from my website Stratford Festival Reviews for the notes from my presentation, which includes a list of 17 "Facebook conversation starters" to help you connect with your patrons online.

I also summarize how Chad Bauman, Managing Director at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, managed to increase subscriber revenue by 115% while he was Director of Marketing and Communications at Arena Stage, Washington. 

Mickey and Minnie

Naturally a few of Disney's most popular characters were on hand.


INTIX 2017 is in New Orleans, I'm already on the lookout for more social media success stories to share. Please contact me if your organisation has a great story.

Guest blogger Keith Tomasek has taught social media and journalism at Western University. He studied theatre in Montreal, and has produced and performed shows around the world, including in Hong Kong, where he was the first Canadian artist to perform at the Hong Kong Fringe Festival.

Tomasek publishes the website Stratford Festival Reviews and The Inadequate Life: A podcast about the creative process & people whose lives depend on it. When he’s not coaching his son’s little league team, he volunteers as a social media strategist with local non-profit organizations.

UncategorizedKeith Tomasek