When Ann Hawthorne recently moved Tickets Please into the Perth Visitor Information Centre, it was a logical step that marked the seventh anniversary of a unique, locally-based business that has supplied box office management for over 200 events and 60,000 people.
At a time when ordering concert and theatre tickets through corporate chains can be expensive and impersonal – not to mention freighted with the stress of long telephone holds punctuated by interminable muzak – Tickets Please offers a human voice, intimate knowledge of regional entertainment options, affordable fees, and walk-in service six days a week.
Hawthorne’s personalized service, marked by her encyclopedic memory about thousands of patron preferences, has helped audiences access and enjoy such major acts as Tommy Hunter, Matt Anderson, Rita McNeil, David Francey, Liona Boyd, Red Green, Blue Rodeo, and the late Stuart McLean. In addition to working with a range of community arts organizations, she also provides box office for the professional Classic Theatre Festival, which draws visitors from across Ontario and the United States.
“Tickets Please helps people learn about the shows they want to see, parking, restaurants, accommodations, and other events, especially if they’re coming from out of town,” Hawthorne says. “If you want to stage an event, Tickets Please can manage a box office, take orders online, print the tickets, handle at-door sales, and present you with a cheque for the total sales. We collect patron contact information for follow-up or issuing tax receipts. People searching our webpage for one event might find yours as well.”
Hawthorne launched Tickets Please because she saw many different groups selling event tickets at a variety of locations. “I thought one main place would be less confusing for people,” she says. She also wanted to make it easier for out-of-town patrons, while lifting a burden from the shoulders of volunteer-run groups. “The costs of website set-up and payment systems may be unaffordable for one group, but together, sharing my services makes it affordable to everyone. I structure my services solely on the sales of each ticket, so there’s no flat fees to pay if things weren’t successful; we shared the risk and return together.”
While based in Perth, Tickets Please can also provide box office services to events in Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, and throughout Lanark, Leeds and Grenville counties.
Hawthorne moved from Ottawa to just outside of Perth in 1993, and joined the Perth Community Choir. “It’s a great way to meet people,” she says. “I still recommend it to newcomers. My great grandmother, a pianist and church organist, always said: ‘If you have musical friends, you’ll always have good friends and good times.’ Two decades later, most of my friends are people I met through the amateur theatre and choirs in town.”
Hawthorne’s community of friends and acquaintances continues to grow each time she picks up the phone at her 11 Gore Street East location. “It’s great to be in touch with the community, hearing what’s going on in people’s lives, and getting feedback on the shows they see. In a digital age, human connection is still such an important thing.” For further information, visit ticketsplease.ca or call (613) 485-6434.
This article first appeared in the April issue of Hometown News