The SeatGeek Enterprise President takes Boardroom through the company’s evolution over the last several years from upstart to industry leader.
When Danielle du Toit joined SeatGeek as President of its enterprise business in 2019, the ticketing company’s business had not yet been built out or matured. Over the last three-and-a-half years, it’s been up to her as part of her wide-ranging role to form and develop teams and leaders in sales, services, support, and program management that have been critical to SeatGeek’s success during her tenure despite the extent to which COVID-19’s peak was broadly devastating to the sports and entertainment industries in 2020.
“We like to hire a combination of people that come with deep passion and expertise in the industry, and people that come with deep passion and expertise for everything related to technology,” du Toit told Boardroom last week. “That is a pretty powerful combination.”
At the most simplistic level, du Toit’s day-to-day job is focused on continued growth for SeatGeek’s stakeholders, rights holders, and clients with a fan-first focus. That means boosting sales, implementing ideas and innovation, and acquiring, retaining, and supporting new clients in the form of teams and venues around the world, from the biggest names in US pro sports to England’s Premier League.
After MLS club Sporting Kansas City kicked things off, the New Orleans Saints became the first NFL franchise to make SeatGeek its primary ticketing partner back in 2017 — and on Tuesday, SeatGeek and the Saints announced a multi-year partnership extension that will continue to allow football fans to use SeatGeek’s app to buy and manage their tickets and scan directly into the stadium, while New Orleans’ organizational back office will utilize the company’s new backend client-facing technology, Unify.
“Five years ago, we realized we needed a primary ticketing partner who could grow with us and our Saints community,” Michael Stanfield, the Saints’ Senior Vice President of Sales, said of the relationship. “We knew from the beginning that their innovative approach to ticketing would provide our passionate fan base with the best-in-class experience they expect and our staff with the most advanced backend technology needed to elevate our ticketing operations. Over the years, the team at SeatGeek has shown us that they’re committed to enriching every aspect of the fan journey, and we look forward to a successful future ahead.”
Early adopters of SeatGeek’s platform like the Saints took what du Toit considers a leap of faith in trusting a company that was not yet a well-known, established player in the space.
“The Saints have been a tremendous partner of ours throughout the years as we’ve both been keenly focused on creating the ultimate game day experience for fans,” du Toit said. “An ideal SeatGeek partner matches our ambition to elevate the customer journey through a forward-thinking mentality and our drive to deliver excellence across the ticketing experiences through innovative box office technology. And that’s the Saints.”
A customer survey revealed that by the start of the 2022 season, New Orleans ranked No. 3 among all NFL teams in mobile ticketing satisfaction.
“It’s a feeling of deep gratitude that we get to continue our relationship with them, and a powerful signal to the industry,” du Toit said.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, du Toit went to university in South Africa and stayed there when her native country’s economy crashed with a quintillion percent inflation rate (that’s 23 zeroes, by the way). She spent most of her adult life in South Africa, starting out as a teacher before advancing her way through the tech industry in digital marketing, working for either global technology companies or global tech consulting firms. She relocated to the US about 11 years ago, and today, she’s a major driver of SeatGeek’s success around the world.
In a deeply competitive industry, there has been little change in sports and entertainment ticketing due in large part to how difficult it is to gain and maintain a meaningful foothold. In its mission to deliver sports fans the best possible overall experience, the north star of the enterprise business is that in order to deliver the best fan experience, SeatGeek needed to own the full end-to-end technology stack.
Fast-forwarding to today, SeatGeek is a well-known entity that’s fully broken into the space to provide teams and venues with a wide array of options and services that competitors can’t always offer thanks to their highly customizable technology platform.
“There are teams and venues that are hungry for a wide range of things. They’re hungry for giving these people that are coming into their building, who are crucial to their current and future business, an incredible experience,” du Toit said. “I just love the fact that by continuing to build great product, by continuing to hire people that are really passionate about taking care of our clients and of our fans, that we are doing really well.”
Notably, hiring and product innovation continued during the peak of the pandemic despite the sports and entertainment world being either completely shut down or severely limited. That, du Toit said, was crucial to the acceleration of the business.
That overall theme and mindset have continued since, with new clients coming aboard alongside a 97% client retention rate, the company said. The more partners SeatGeek adds, the more data there is to show that what it’s building is beneficial to a potential client’s business.
And the more du Toit’s enterprise division continues to thrive in the admittedly cutthroat ticketing space.
“We are definitely at that stage where it’s almost a natural momentum that is being built,” she said. “We will and are continuing to build and invest in technology and teams to service our rights holders and our fans. Everything is about how we build the best teams and technology, and that will continue to drive our short and long-term growth.”
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