Updating the Box Office with Corrie Riedl ‘17
By Madison Kobe ’18
Over the last three months the Fine Arts department has already put on seven ticketed events, not including the Christmas Festival. If you attended any of these events, you probably noticed Box Office staff asking for some information to enter you into the system. This is because over the summer, the Ensemble and Events Office updated and modernized the Fine Arts Box Office to make getting tickets easier for our patrons. The new system allows for more marketing, more accurate statistics of who attends shows, 24/7 online ordering, and a print-at-home option. Box Office Student Manager Corrie Riedl ’17 was able to provide more information about the system, and give an insider perspective.
How is the new system beneficial for the Fine Arts Department and patrons?
The new online system, Seat Advisor Box Office (SABO), has opened up a whole new door for Carthage Fine Arts. The best new feature SABO has is online ticket ordering. Our old system was from the early 1990’s, and the company that designed it actually went out of business several years ago, so they never updated their software or services to accommodate online orders. SABO, however, is a thriving company that many college campuses use all over the country, and therefore is an extremely up-to-date software. SABO has also allowed us to increase efficiency and accuracy. The old system was slow and basically ran off of a spreadsheet that had to be manually updated constantly, which opened up the door to a lot of human error. SABO is much more user friendly both for the Box Office staff and patrons, making patrons’ front-of-house experience a much faster and easier one.
What have been some challenges with the new system?
It has definitely been an adjustment for the campus to switch to such a modern system. Perhaps the biggest challenge is we have not yet settled on the best way for Carthage Students and Faculty to get their complimentary tickets via the online ordering system (see FAQ for more information). This year we are still requiring students and faculty to get their tickets in person at the box office so we can verify their identity. The exceptions to this rule are the Music Theatre Workshop performances and some of our Studio Theatre events that are free admission. Faculty and students can get their tickets online for free events, because there are no differences in price between the different ticket types. This is a problem we have been brainstorming about all semester, and have several ideas we would like to try out over the next year or so.
What have been some highlights of upgrading the system?
SABO simply allows us to do more. We can gather more patron information, which allows us to send out reminder emails about tickets for upcoming events or to call if there is a problem with their order. The information also allows the marketing department to see who is coming to our shows and better examine how we can advertise our productions to bring in more people. Patrons are also loving the print-at-home option for online ticket orders. For every performance we have, a large portion of the audience is bringing in tickets that were printed from home. We were even able to allow the chapel office to use the system to run Christmas Festival this year! Debbie Clark in the chapel office noticed a huge difference in the amount of calls she was receiving because we were allowing patrons to order tickets online. It freed her up quite a bit!
How has the transition been for you as the Box Office Student Manager, since you worked with the previous system?
Amazing. The old system was out of date, clunky, and difficult to manage. We made do, but we couldn’t track anything, fixing errors was extremely difficult, and the system was unreliable, which made show nights absolutely terrifying. Introducing SABO has been incredible. We had a few bugs to work out the first few weeks of classes, but they were quickly fixed, and the Box Office staff has had no problem adjusting to the changes. The efficiency of the new system is really amazing. We have not had to hold the start time of any our productions this year due to the box office, which is a huge win for me. It’s made my life a lot easier, and I feel the Box Office is now able to represent not only the Theatre Department, but the Fine Arts Department and school with pride.
Knowing the new system like you do now, would you still encourage the switch to the new system?
I absolutely would. In fact, I would have pushed way harder for it sooner! It’s so important that our patrons have a pleasant experience from the second they walk in the door, and their time with the Box Office is a part of that. Being able to come with your print-at-home ticket and just walk straight into the theatre, or standing in line at will-call for only a few seconds rather than minutes influences the state of mind patrons come into our productions with. SABO adds an element of professionalism to our front-of-house that matches that of our productions.
What other changes would you like to see in the future for the Fine Arts Department?
I would like to see us utilizing this ticketing system even more. The Music Department tracks student attendance at music events, and I know SABO would be able to assist them in that. We’ve already expanded the events we ticket to include Music Theatre workshop productions, and I see no problem in expanding our reach to other departments in the Fine Arts as well. We have just started tapping into what SABO can bring to our campus, and I can’t wait to see how it grows over the next few years.
For upcoming events, check out the Fine Arts calendar at www.carthage.edu/fine-arts/calendar.
Get your tickets 24/7 at www.carthage.edu/tickets!