What do you want to become?
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKET SERVICE DIRECTOR
Alternate Career Titles:
Head of Subscriptions, Ticket Service Director, Ticket Services Manager
Career Overview: Manages the day-to-day operations of the ticketing offices, maintains the ticketing system, ensures patrons receive their tickets, and supervises the box office.
Career Salary Range: $24,000 to $49,000+
Become a Subscriptions and Ticket Service Director
Kenyon Lasseter is the Ticket Services Manager with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The main job of a Subscriptions and Ticket Service Director, he tells us, “includes managing the day to day operations of the ticket office. I build and create the performances we sell in our ticketing system, which is an ongoing task. I oversee a staff of four (two full-time, two part-time) including my Assistant Manager. We print and mail ticket orders that have come in online or over the phone. We answer phone calls of all sorts from our patrons. Sometimes I am needed to handle and diffuse escalated situations. On concert days, we will be putting together Will Call before heading to the venue, then we sell and handle any ticketing issues with patrons.
We do a little extra for season ticket holders. When it comes time for them to renew, we go into the performance hall and leave their personalized renewal packets on their seats instead of just mailing them out to them. We do this each night for a weekend of pops and symphonic concerts. We are there to take their renewals in person before, during, and after the concert. That whole process is mainly overseen by the Vice President of Marketing and me. We also include a special discount card for subscribers that they can use at various retailers and restaurants in the area. The offers for that card are mostly put together by our development department. Our patrons (or donors) will sometimes get offers for free merchandise or tickets and they will come to the box office to redeem. My whole team makes all of these things possible, though. I would really like to reiterate how amazing they are.”
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Some ticket office employees start as volunteers, whereas others land an entry-level gig as a Ticket Office Representative. Some of these positions are part-time so landing a full-time job in the ticket office represents a significant step forward. Depending on the size of the orchestra, a ticketing employee may next step into a role as Ticket Office Supervisor, Patron Services Manager, or Assistant Ticketing Manager. After some time in this role, advancement to a Ticket Services Manager or Director role is possible.
Education & Training
When applying to positions with an orchestra, a degree in Music, Marketing, or a field related to the work can be helpful on a resume. However, Lasseter says, “I don’t necessarily think a college degree is required for this position. I personally never got one. I’ve been in the industry for about eleven years and just worked my way up through the ranks. When hiring, I tend to pay more attention to someone’s work experience and personality. I think someone who wants to move up and works hard for it certainly can.”
He adds, “I would recommend learning Word, Excel, and how to do HMTL. Also, I would definitely recommend attending a course or courses on customer service best practices and how to be an effective leader. Being proficient in time management is also a must for this position.”
Experience & Skills
“I think it is pretty imperative to get some experience working in a ticket office,” Lasseter says, “whether starting off as a volunteer or even just part-time. It really helps you understand what to expect and how the dynamics of a ticket office work. Skills that are absolutely required are impeccable customer service and the ability to remain calm under pressure. When you first start out in this field you will be doing a lot of phone call answering and mailing of tickets.” As in all customer service work, the job requires patience, people skills, and attention-to-detail. It, therefore, makes sense to have some experience in retail, hospitality, or any other field where customer service skills can be learned before applying to ticket office positions.
“I think this position requires being calm, friendly, and welcoming,” Lasseter says. “Sometimes a lot can be asked of you from patrons and coworkers and you need to have the attitude of coming from a place of yes. You really want to have someone in this position who is a go-getter and willing to do all they can to make sure the patron is satisfied with their experience.” This is the type of role where it definitely helps to be a people person, as ticket office employees deal with the public every day. It also doesn’t hurt to have an interest in classical music.
“For the most part,” Lasseter says, “I work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. When we have concerts — and we do a lot of them (around seventy a season) — I will usually take a day off during the week to make up for working all weekend. For the most part, we have concerts on Friday evenings, Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. I do occasionally have to work on holidays. We have a summer festival called Concerts in the Garden and we always have a concert on July 4th so I know I will always work that holiday.
The staff members I work the closest with are the Vice President of Marketing (who is my direct supervisor), the Assistant Ticket Service Manager, the rest of the Ticket Services staff, and also the Vice President of Finance. Of course, I work with almost all of the staff in some capacity at various times of the year.”
How could an aspiring ticket services staffer work his or her way up to a Director role? “I can speak personally on the path I took,” Lasseter says. “I started off volunteer ushering at a local theater as a young teen. When I was a couple of years older, I got a part-time job as Ticket Office Representative at a different theater and worked my way up to becoming a Ticket Office Supervisor. (That was the position under Assistant Manager). Then I saw a job posting for Ticket Office Assistant Manager at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. I ended up getting that job and working my way up to Ticket Office Manager in about a year. I have seen people move up quickly from part-time to full-time because the timing was right so I definitely recommend starting off in the ticket office is some way because you never know when you might get to move up the ladder, so to speak. Also, getting any job in customer service and being good at it is a great stepping stone.”
“In my current position with this orchestra I am on a yearly salary and it does come with benefits such as health insurance and a retirement plan,” Lasseter says. “Although I do understand this can vary wildly from company to company.”
Unions, Groups, Social Media, and Associations
“I always think a great place to check out is your local 501 Job Board,” Lasseter suggests. “They usually have websites you can peruse for job listings. Also, just go to the websites of your local performing arts companies and check out their job boards.” Job postings and career advice can also be found via the League of American Orchestras.
- “Get a job doing customer service somewhere.
- Get in with a company and work your way up through the ranks. Paying your dues and learning the industry are the best way to achieve the role of Ticket Services Manager.”
- Learn skills like Excel, Word, and some HTML.
- Get familiar with classical music so you can communicate with patrons about their preferences and interests.
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Honestly, I think the biggest suggestion I can give is to be level-headed, calm, and treat everyone with respect.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“I think the biggest mistake I have seen people make is getting annoyed at having to assist patrons. The vast majority of your job is to assist patrons and even if you’re having a bad day, you just have to put on a happy face and make sure the patron is happy. I always tell my staff we are being paid to provide exceptional customer service. We are basically the face and voice of the company because for many people we are the first people they interact with so it is up to us to set the tone for their experience. We may hear the same questions over and over again [but] for each patron that is the first time they are asking us.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“I would say, ‘How much work really goes into being Ticket Services Manager?’
It can be a lot of work sometimes when building new seasons of performances in the ticketing system and getting ready for season subscription renewals — not to mention when we have mountains of tickets to mail out. There are some days where you are pulled in several different directions at once. I am very blessed to have an amazing Ticket Services Assistant Manager as well as a fantastic Ticket Services team to help me out!”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
“‘Yes!’ I really think approaching your career from a place of yes is a great way to be successful. I sometimes have reservations about new things that are asked of me by my supervisor but I always try to at least try and explore the ways it may be possible to achieve what is being asked of me. I know it is totally cheesy but we have little posters up at everyone’s work stations in the Ticket Office that say ‘Keep Calm and Find a Way to Say Yes!’ It makes it less stressful for us and the patrons to just try to do all we can to make them happy.”
Kenyon Lasseter is the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Ticket Services Manager. Prior to accepting this role, he worked as the symphony’s Assistant Ticket Services Manager and for Performing Arts Fort Worth as their Patron Services Supervisor.