Early in my career in the 90’s, I would get notes from John when I turned on my Ticketmaster computer that ranged from wishing me happy birthday, to displaying what was supposed to be a Christmas tree (or the best one could look like in DOS). It was always fun to scolded for not “BYEing” out of my code the night before. Over the years, as I began to travel in the same ticketing circle and we became friends, I never stopped being just a little bit in awe.
My first day was his last. I later found out it was really the Friday before, but he wanted to be there the day I started. We talked a lot that day, as we had many times before about ticketing in general and the Jets in specific. As we would argue back and forth on topic after topic, he would tell me, “Time will tell Jeffrey….time will tell.” Outside of my parents and a few family members, no one called me Jeffrey. But it kind of seemed right with John.
Even though the Jets were one of the first major organizations to sign a deal with StubHub, John was never a fan of the secondary market. His fear of an eroding primary market was ahead of its time. He was also the same guy that didn’t understand why teams needed to take credit cards and incur the fees. This might be what I loved most about the man. He lived and breathed the industry, but he wasn’t always right.
As he left the office for the last time, he took out a small calculator. It was one of those calculators that have those small cells on top that run on the light in the room. His last words that day as he left for lunch with his wife Sandy was, “This is all yours now.” as he handed me the calculator at the same time. We saw and spoke many more times after that day before he passed, but that’s the day I choose to remember most regarding my friend.
Ten years, a lifetime in technology terms. Who could have imagined a ticketing world that revolved around a phone? We were all still taking bets on how long it would be before PDFs would fail in 2008.
If I took a poll of everyone currently reading this, I bet ten years ago almost no one had even heard the terms “Analytics or Social Media”. And yet today, the Jets organization currently has three employees that work exclusively on analytics and six that work in the social media field. And I am sure most of your organizations are the same.
We sold twenty percent of all tickets through the internet ten years ago when I started. The rest through the phone room. We all remember those right? The box office and the OUTLETS. Yesterday when putting some thoughts together for this article, I quizzed my twenty year old daughter about some of this. “Outlets? Yes of course I know what an outlet is!”, as she took an iPhone 8 out of her pocket and pointed toward it.
I still sometimes laugh at the check vs. credit card argument, especially when I sit in meetings regarding PayPal, Bitcoin, and the latest; WeChat.
I will only mention the “night and day” difference of the importance of venue security, given the world of 2018 vs. 2008. This topic would be an entire article to itself. The importance of learning exactly who is in our buildings differs per department. It doesn’t matter if it’s for marketing data or security, there is likely nothing more important in 2018.
With all this being said, ultimately the endgame has not changed. Patrons still needs something to gain entry into the venue. Someday soon it may simply be one’s face, but I know we will all be here to build and manage whatever is necessary to get people into the building. It’s what we do, it’s who we are. I am 51 years old now and my father still sometimes asks me, “What are you going to do when you grow up?”. We are all just a bit different in our own way, and that's why I love this industry.
I will end this now. It is time to go take a ticket count on a Facebook, Visa only, delayed delivery mobile entry promotion. But first, I need to go grab my trusty little calculator so I can add up all the numbers.