If you’ve bought a ticket to a Big Green football game, signed up for a FLIP class, or purchased a Dartmouth gym membership, you’ve benefited from the work of Sarah Swanson and her team in the Athletics Ticket Office. When Swanson isn’t fixing software crashes at hockey games, she’s busy being a mom to daughter Molly, born this past July.
Tell me about your job. I’ve been the Athletics ticket manager since November 2013. I manage all of the paid athletics ticketing for Dartmouth: Football and soccer in the fall, basketball and hockey in the winter, and lacrosse in the spring. We also ticket some track meets, and if we’re hosting a free event, like last year’s Ivy League softball championship, I manage the staff that handles access to the venues.
What’s the ticket office like on a game day? At the game, we open for sales one hour before the event and close after halftime or, for hockey, after the second-period break. Before that, if it’s a day when we have open office hours, we do our daily walk-up and phone sales, check Internet sales, and prepare all of the off-site sales, the complimentary lists, the will-call for people picking up tickets at the game, cash for cash sales, extra ticket stock and envelopes, and make sure our staff is ready. But whenever somebody walks up to the ticket window, we stop and help them first. The most important part of my job is making sure that people who buy tickets have a good experience.
What’s something most people don’t know about your job? The big thing that surprised me when I started was all of the regulations that we have to follow, especially related to complementary tickets. We have to be strict about that so the school doesn’t get fined. Also, I’m constantly thinking about the possibility that the ticketing software is going to crash.
Has that happened? Yes—on a recent Saturday, at the biggest hockey game of the year. The lobby was full with a line out the door, it was snowing, and we couldn’t sell any tickets.We transitioned to cash-only sales with strip tickets—the kind you get at a raffle—for standing-room-only, half price. It was frustrating because people wanted a seat and we had no way of assigning one to them, but most fans were understanding. Everybody who wanted to see the game was able to get in.
What else affects sales? This fall at our home football games we were prepared for huge sales because the team was playing really well, but the weather did us in every time. I didn’t blame people for not wanting to sit in the cold rain! I think a lot of people watched online from home. But it was exciting from my perspective because there was so much to prepare for.
What do you like about your work? Half of my job is dealing with people, talking to them, seeing their excitement for the event, and watching our teams win. The other half is computer-related, working out configuration problems—lots of puzzles to solve. That mix is ideal for me.
What do you do outside of work? I like to run: I’ve run one marathon and a number of half marathons. But with a six-month-old there’s not a lot else I do right now. I ran the CHaD 5k this fall, four months postpartum, a minute and a half per mile slower than my marathon time. It’s amazing what you’re body goes through when you have a baby. But I really like being a mom and a wife.
Do you have a favorite Dartmouth team? I’m not competitive at running, but I like watching the track and field team. It’s impressive to see these students—the slowest person at the 5k is minutes faster than I could ever do. So many Dartmouth teams are super good, and we don’t charge a thing for most of them. That’s amazing. More people should go.