Box Office Staff
Members of the box office staff are typically the first contact between a patron and the event they plan to attend, and as such, these individuals are responsible not only for the accurate dissemination of tickets but also with ensuring responsible customer service.
Under the supervision of the treasurer or box office manager, the box office staff’s primary task is selling tickets to an event or performance. These individuals are typically employees of the venue and not associated with the production staff. Among the additional responsibilities of the staff are answering customer inquiries by phone or e-mail and organizing blocks of tickets for third-party ticket agents. When necessary, the staff cooperates with the group sales department to hold seats for patron groups and will recognize applicable discounts as established by the ticket sales manager. In coordination with the press agent, the box office will be responsible for issuing passes to reporters and critics, as well as other special guests. Those working in the box office track sales and seat assignments through manual systems or computer software applications and reconcile tickets sold against revenue for every performance on a daily basis. Each individual is personally accountable for accurately processing cash and electronic transactions and must carefully record both. Other common tasks related to ticket sales may include processing mail orders for tickets, including stuffing and addressing envelopes.
Inevitably, ticket issues arise at any event, and the box office staff is usually the first line of defense. It is common for customers to face problems such as redeeming tickets issued for the wrong performance, exchanging tickets, getting refunds, and even dealing with counterfeit tickets. The staff must adhere to established policies and procedures, while attempting to accommodate the patron. Where possible, these individuals work with the box office manager and house manager to arrange to admit every patron who wishes to attend, occasionally offering standing room or vouchers for a different showing. When counterfeit tickets arrive, they are generally not the fault of the customer. In such instances, the ticket sellers must immediately confiscate the fake and submit a report to management. The staff must have a keen eye to spot such impostors, as counterfeiters are proving to be increasingly crafty.
Skills & Education
A college education in theatrical management or event production is recommended for this career, though majors in finance, accounting, and related areas are applicable. Those working in the box office must display familiarity with automated ticket systems, as well as software applications such as Word, Excel, and electronic databases. Ticket sellers are numbers people who can do long calculations in their minds and have a knack for complicated memorization. These individuals are hyper organized and meticulous. Of course, a high degree of personal responsibility and integrity is required. Further, as customer service representatives, the box office staff should exude a positive personality and eagerness to help people.
What to Expect
There are very different levels in the box office staff career field. Those you find working in movie theaters or at local community theaters typically do not make much more than minimum wage. However, ticket sellers working for major sporting arenas, convention centers, and Broadway theaters have the opportunity for higher wages as members of IATSE. Treasurers and ticket sellers working at a venue engaged in an agreement with the union are eligible for membership and are able to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits. You should not expect to make six figures working in the box office of the Majestic Theater, but experience can lead to advancement as a salaried box office manager, ticket sales manager, or group sales manager.
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