by: Eric Fuller
Me and you, and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice
It had to be
The only one for me is you
And you for me
So happy together
– Happy Together — The Turtles
Intix, the international ticketing association, held its 41st conference & exhibition this week and I was there. It was a fascinating four days in midtown Manhattan. First, for a conference junkie like me it was a treat to find something just a little different. Intix is more than a standard network, drink and learn conference. There’s something more in the air, a frisson of sorts. First of all the order for Intix runs more like this: drink, network, learn. I’m convinced that Intix is a drinking association with a ticketing problem.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles then you know I’m always somewhere. In 2019 I went to seven conferences and ten music festivals. There’s more than a tangential connection between conferences and festivals. In both cases a disparate group melds into cohesion over the course of three or four days out of town. Festivals and conferences both have a base of attendees with shared interests, a common spirit of adventure to get off the sofa and into the event. These self-selected groups share affinity for the topics or performers appearing, and in almost all cases the bonding is accelerated by copious, and often free, alcohol.
So, what was it about Intix that created such a different ethos? I’ve been thinking about that for a couple of days, and this is where I’m leaning: Intix is a non-profit membership base serving professionals in ticketing and related industry world-wide. The members of Intix seem to appreciate the collective effort required to create a show and the equally critical element of getting tickets in people’s hands and posteriors into venue’s seats. Just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’re no divas in tickets. Instead, the prevailing ethic is teamwork.
There’s a lot of media coverage about ticketing, almost all of it related to one of two things:
2. Primary vs. secondary markets.
Much is written about the ways markets work to extract money from consumers in ways both admirable such as discounts for veterans and the disabled and disfavored such as surprise fees at checkout. The public perception is that ticketing is a vicious competitive world.
What gets almost no press is just how many people work quietly, tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure events have promotion, distribution and delivery of tickets. That work is the work of the Intix membership. It’s almost an entertainment utility — like the unseen pipes and wires that carry water and electricity so efficiently they’re never noticed unless there’s a break.
Because there is community among the people who do the work of keeping ticketing seamless, friendships develop and are nourished even as the people themselves move between jobs. This conference did not have the urgent networking feel of so many I attend, it felt more like a reunion. Except, this group was not giving side-eye to the newcomers. It welcomed them into their biodome.
The Intix conference appeared to me to be a mélange of different styles: part education, part self-improvement rally and part celebration of friends and shared history. Every night had one or more open bar events. Every day had multiple educational panel tracks. We always opened in the main dining room and most days returned there again for lunch. Today it was where we had the last event of the conference — the closing keynote.
Because Intix is a not for profit organization, almost all of the work related to mounting this conference is handled by volunteers. There were 1,367 attendees from 17 countries in Manhattan. The planning of the conference was done by committees staffed by the Intix members who offered their time to help strengthen the organization.
My outreach to Intix when it hit my radar was curiosity based. How had this organization existed for 41 years and never before hit my radar? I reached out to Maureen Andersen, the President and CEO of Intix, and one of its two paid staffers. I had no idea what I was starting. Maureen is a dynamo. She’s tough, smart, no nonsense and fully invested in the business of Intix. I remember once hearing Michael Milken tell me the only time he got nervous was when Dr. Armand Hammer was calling, because he never knew how much that call was going to wind up costing him in donations. Maureen is something like that. She knows what she needs, she knows what you can bring and she knows how to get you to want to provide it.
I also think that strong leadership from the top, plus a team of volunteers working up through the culture to take committee assignments, board positions and ultimately responsibility for elements of the conference itself help reinforce the mission of binding the membership into more than just a collective. It operates more like a family. There’s noise, there’s dissension, somebody’s drunk but at the core there’s love.
My four days with this crew showed me that sometimes a conference is more than a conference. Sometimes it’s a visit to a revival tent show, which mends your spirit while it reinvigorates your mission. Intix, at least at their 2020 conference, did something surprising. During a very cold week in Manhattan, they provided a truly warm room to share. And, yes Maureen, I’ll be sending over my dues payment. Because, even as we enter another new decade, it’s still a good feeling to find a club which would like to have me as a member.
Let me know what you think.
This post was originally published at Medium. It is republished here with the author’s permission.
About the Author
Eric Fuller is an $895/hour consultant advising leading companies in the live event space. If you are an investor, artist, promoter, team, producer, venue operator, primary or secondary market of ticketed events or have comments on this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me: email@example.com