Ticket Office Tales: Would You Mind Holding While I Ask a Supervisor?
Imagine that you have just accepted a job working as a waiter at a restaurant. You arrive on your first day, and the manager begins your training:
“First you’ll need to memorize the entire menu, including all recipes, ingredients, allergens, preparations, and durations. Orders typically take 15 minutes to reach a table, unless they request their meat well-done, in which case it takes 20. If they order steak, increase it to 30. If there is a combination of the above, we do some simple mental math to increase the prep time exponentially per ounce of red meat and two ounces of white meat or veggies. Our happy hour is from 5-7 pm on weeknights, 6-10 pm on weekends, except on holidays or when there is a large event happening in town, in which case we extend happy hour another hour on Fridays. Our Sunday menu is completely different, and we also have a cafe next door, so you’ll need to memorize all of those recipes as well. We expect you to learn how to bus tables, sous chef, wash dishes, run the host stand, and prepare basic cocktails and coffee beverages. Did I mention table settings? Based on time of day and what’s ordered, we have several types of place settings you will need to learn about and internalize. Oh, and have you been shown where the napkins are? I hope you’re comfortable with origami…”
Needless to say, this would be an overwhelming first day at a new job. But if you read that paragraph to our UMS ticket office student employees, they would likely respond that it’s not that far-fetched.
Many people don’t realize that the UMS ticket office also does the ticketing for other organizations as well, including for U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, and MUSKET. Every organization has its own set of protocols, policies, and ticket offers. It’s not enough to keep track of which performances go with which organization (knowing the menus). Student staff also need to know the policies inside and out and to be able to bounce between them seamlessly (knowing the recipes).
Fun fact: On December 13, 2015 UMS presents an HD theater broadcast of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and that same day, U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance presents Henry IV, Part 1!
Our ticket office has a staff of 20 student employees, all of whom are working to earn their financial aid awards. Many of our students stay with us throughout their college careers, and every fall we hire a handful of new students to replace those who’ve graduated. They each go through a rigorous training process during which they learn the ins and outs of our ticket system, the nuances of the different organizations they serve, master customer service skills, and prepare for any and every potential ticketing situation that might arise at the ticket office. Did I mention they also help us run the box office before performances?
(Not to mention mastering the pronunciations)
So please bear with us every fall as we train our new staff members. In addition to all the work they have to do for classes and extracurriculars, they have a lot to learn here in the ticket office, and they are working incredibly hard to take it all in.
Practice makes perfect, and before you know it they will be ticketing experts – we’ll even look to them to help us train next year’s new hires!