In 1990, simple timing, a little bit of fate and a lot of hard work led to the creation of TicketCity during March Madness in 1990. Started by University of Texas Alum, Randy Cohen, TicketCity is the original ticket marketplace and is the longest running secondary market in sports and event tickets.
Shannon McKinley joined the TicketCity family in 2015, and after just one year with the company, became its Public Relations and Brand Management Executive. McKinley’s love of sports led her to the company and its Austin, Texas headquarters. A graduate of Texas Tech University in Public Relations, and Media and Communications, McKinley helps sports fans achieve their dreams of watching major sporting events live.
McKinley’s days are never dull as a member of the TicketCity family, and she wears many hats. She takes pride in connecting fans with much sought after tickets. It means all the more to her, when McKinley helps a sports fan obtain tickets to an event she would attend, too. TicketCity connects people with over 100,000 events, making it one of the best marketplaces for buying tickets online.
Recently, McKinley spoke to Totalprestige Magazine about her career, TicketCity and much more.
Shannon, can you please tell us about TicketCity?
TicketCity’s mission is to make it easy for our customers to buy good tickets for their favorite events. As the largest privately held ticket company in the world, our mission continues to be to provide a personalized ticket buying experience that is reliable and convenient. Using our industry expertise, technology and commitment to fostering a long-lasting relationship with our customers, TicketCity connects people to millions of available tickets for bucket-list events.
Can you explain just how TicketCity began and what some of the highlights have been?
TicketCity began in 1990 in Austin, Texas when our CEO and Founder Randy Cohen had extra tickets during March Madness to a University of Texas Longhorn’s basketball game. The game had high demand and he ended up selling the tickets he owned for more than he purchased them for… and just like that TicketCity was born. He took his entire savings and created a company where upper management averages a tenure of 21 years.
What are the goals and objectives?
Our goal is to make it easy for our customers to buy good tickets to their favorite events. We offer this through our website, TicketCity.com and our mobile app.
Shannon, what sets TicketCity apart from competitors?
TicketCity was the first online ticket marketplace. Before any of our competitors were around, we created a platform that allowed the world-wide web to connect sellers to buyers for event tickets. As we continue to connect people to these events, we have gained valuable years of experience and a large amount of consumer data. This data has allowed us insight into what our customers want and how to make it easier for them to purchase. That’s something only experience can get you.
TicketCity also vets their sellers, and does not allow individuals to list. We only work with trusted sellers who have been assessed. Because of this, we can standby the TicketCity guarantee. This guarantee states your tickets will be delivered on time and will be authentic. We have won industry awards voted by our peers and competitors for the level of customer service we offer.
What is next for TicketCity?
TicketCity is working to make our event pages more customer-centric. This is done through an algorithm that allows us to recommend the best seats in the venues based on the price the customer sets.
Shannon, what led you to this career?
I always knew I wanted to work in sports and entertainment. Nelson Mandela said it best, “Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire and unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a way they understand and can create hope where there was only despair.”
There have been few things as rewarding as handing someone a Master’s badge in Augusta, Georgia to walk the hallowed grounds of golf, or watching a father and son enter the doors of the Super Bowl. My job is incredibly rewarding and overseeing a brand that connects people to unforgettable moments is what is most gratifying.
How do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in other’s stories. When customers return to us and share with us the moment their tickets connected them with, I feel inspired. Inspired to do better, create more and continue to strive to make the customer’s journey at TicketCity seamless.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
One of the challenging, but also incredibly wonderful parts of our jobs at TicketCity, is that we help millions of customers who come from backgrounds of all sorts. If we were just the New York Yankees, we could consider who a baseball fan is, what are they like, what’s their average age, and where do they live? But instead, we sell tickets to thousands of events from Justin Timberlake to Hamilton, Monster Jam, the Masters Golf tournament and the Super Bowl. If you draw out who the customer is for each event, they rarely overlap. So, it’s finding a way to reach every customer as an individual without leaving other customers out!
What has been your most rewarding professional experience?
Hosting a SXSW event and panel that introduced secondary ticketing as a modern marketplace. Panel members included employees from ESPN, Uber, HomeAway and more.
As the Communications Director at TicketCity, what is a day in your life like?
It’s fun. I get to wear so many hats and overlap with each department. Although I fall under a marketing umbrella, I get to work with everyone. I get to study customer data while working with the media on storylines, and finally on creative campaigns to reach our customers in a more effective way. There’s always something new.
What makes you smile?
Personally, Sunday at The Masters and opening weekend of college football makes me the happiest version of myself. Professionally, it goes hand and hand. Understanding how much the Master’s means to me makes handing the badge to a patron that much more fulfilling. The faces of people heading to the gates of Augusta National Golf Club might be some of the happiest in the world.
What scares you?
Personally, snakes. Professionally, knowing we could have done more for a customer but a mistake on our end prevented the customer from having the best possible experience.
What is your greatest achievement?
Creating content aired during Jimmy V week. Using sports to connect people and hopefully inspiring people is why I love working in this industry so much.
What is your secret talent?
I can balance almost anything on my head and hula hoop for hours.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Professionally, George H. W. Bush. He handled international relations with class. Bush guided the country through the end of the cold war and led a coalition to liberate Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion. But personally, in memoirs written about him, he is regarded by friends and family as extremely loving and loyal. Through it all, he remained hard-working and grounded. He did things the right way and took no shortcuts. That’s something to be remembered.
Shannon, do you have any hobbies?
Soccer, tennis, anything that allows me to mix exercise with a ball that helps me forget I’m exercising.
What are you never without?
Like most people in PR – my phone. Specifically, in sports, with changing narratives all the time and our ability to connect with people, it’s increasingly important to stay connected.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” – John F. Kennedy
“I think we should all be like John Wayne. Be really great, be tough, and be kind” – General Charles Wald
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
Bullying. Unfortunately, children or teens who are considered “different” from their peers are the most bullied. Whether children or teens come from a different social class, suffer from a disorder like ADHD, autism or identify in the LGBT community, the differences in us all is what makes humanity so wonderful. If being different was cool instead of being mean, the long-term effects of kindness might outweigh the long-term effects of being bullied.
For more information on Shannon McKinley and TicketCity, please visit www.Ticketcity.com.