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20th November 2009

A day with Durham CCC’s…Box Office

“During the off season we’re busy as soon as the Membership renewal and international tickets are mailed out.   The phones ring off the hook and often we have to bring in additional staff to deal with demand – sometimes we’ll divert phones up to the Marketing team who’ll take calls too to ensure that those people calling us aren’t queuing for too long.

“Once we get the all clear from the Marketing team, and they provide us with our ticket wallets, inserts, Membership books etc we start putting the packs together to be sent out to Members and ticket buyers.  If we’re really busy and trying to meet a tight postal deadline then people from other departments kindly offer their support and will help where they can.  

“It’s quite tight knit at the Club and because the staff know each other well and have an idea when each other’s pressured times are you’ll often see people stepping into different departments to help out – it’s really nice and makes it feel a bit like a family, which helps when we end up spending so much time together in the summer.  

“We have had an honorary addition to the Box Office team this winter, in the form of a down on its luck magpie.  The Box Office looks out over the car park and one day we saw this one bird with a damaged wing wandering around.  As the days went on we noticed that it was getting bullied by other magpies so there have been odd occasions, when we’ve been returning from lunch , where you may see one of us in the car park shooing them away as he tries to pick bugs off number plates!

“Now that the fixtures have been released we’re setting up sales for the County Championship and ECB 40 matches so that people can buy online or over the phone – tickets for the Friends Provident T20 have been available to buy for a while and they’re already proving to be popular.  I’ve been here for two seasons and when I started I didn’t really know that much about cricket but now I quite like Twenty20.  It’s a really great time to be involved with the Club and the team’s achievements have been great in the Championship but I still can’t quite handle that in some cases a match can last for four days and no one wins!  

“Our Box Office Manager, Wayne Pinchen, has the joyous task of sorting the data for any mail outs that the Marketing team send out, such as Membership and ODI forms or Riverside Review.  It’s a fairly drawn out process as once he’s extracted the data we check it, then the Marketing team check it before it’s sent to the mail house – and once the mail house upload it to their system they send it back to us so we can check it again!  

“For a domestic match day we’ll bulk print tickets for the gates and then deal with any admission or Membership queries as they occur during the day.  Most people tend to come to the Box Office during the intervals, if it’s really busy the Reception staff or one of our Volunteers will give us a hand where they can.  

“The Twenty20 matches are always manic because so many people need to get through the gates in a relatively short period of time.  Again, we bring in additional staff for these matches so that we can sell tickets as quickly as possible and get people into the ground with the minimum of fuss.

“Obviously our busiest, and often most frantic, times are international fixtures.  Such an incredible amount of planning goes into the execution of our day, yet we still need to be flexible enough to deal with queries or problems that arise on the day.  We’ll have cleared locations of portable Box Offices with the Operations team prior to the match and ensured that the systems work with a dry run a day or two before the match so we can iron out any problems.

“If we’re sold out we have to be on hand to deal with any problems that arise with seating.  If we have last minute released seats to sell we bring in reinforcements from other large sports venues to deal with general ticket sales while our more experienced staff deal with queries from the public.  This means that we have to set up briefing sessions before the game so often it means very early starts.

“We hold off selling seats around the sightscreens until the very last minute but quite often the international sides will request that they are moved slightly to the left of slightly to the right, after they’ve had the chance to practice, inevitably this leads to some seat changes and Wayne is normally trying to solve any concerns from people we may have to move right up until the start of the match.

“We’ll often be selling tickets to forthcoming events at the international fixtures so there is always a steady flow of people at the Box Office.  We’re on site until pretty late as we need to collect all the computers and ticket printers from the sites around the ground, then once we’re done we’ll join the other members of staff as they finish their tasks for the day and then, believe it or not we’ll have a quick de-brief in Austins with a cup of tea!”

Next week Cricket Secretary, Ellen Johnson, gives us an insight into planning for the forthcoming season.