Said Sattout, ticketing manager, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney. (Photo courtesy Qudos Bank Arena)

Where he’s meant to be 

Said Sattout lives 15 minutes from Qudos Bank Arena. It is situated in Sydney Olympic Park, where it was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics. 

“Every day I’d drive past and I’d say to myself. ‘I’m going to work there one day, I’m going to work there one day.’”

He’d caught countless acts at the ASM Global-managed 21,000-seater. The most memorable was Madonna — “the production, the costumes, the lighting, all fantastic,” he said.

After working at Ticketek in various roles for 13 years and as ticketing manager at Star Entertainment Group for close to four years, he joined Qudos Bank Arena in November 2017 in the newly created role of ticketing manager.

Under venue General Manager Steve Havern, Sattout restructured ticketing to provide quicker turnaround of information for touring acts and anchor tenants such as the Sydney Kings basketball team.

The ticketing division and Ticketek jointly developed an online avenue for patrons to buy accessible tickets in January 2019. A review of the arena’s Accessibility Framework was followed in July by the introduction by Sattout of its Sensory and Accessibility Bookings inquiry line.

“Previously, people with special needs or requests just had an (external) phone number to call,” he said. “We created ways within the system so they could access tickets without waiting on the phone or have it constantly engaged.”

Now those patrons have three booking channels: online, in-house or an online request form, managed by the ticketing team.

The venue is instantly aware if someone needs an aisle seat, a charging station for an electric wheelchair or a water bowl for a guide dog.

The information is passed on to front-of-house. Special needs patrons are greeted on arrival and escorted to their seats. Through the performance, a supervisor is on hand for sudden requests.

“Their experience starts from when they book their tickets (and continues till) they leave the arena,” Sattout said.  

“The whole process is in-house, so it’s a tremendous opportunity to build a direct rapport with patrons. 

“They’re given a service they don’t expect and hopefully it will encourage them to go out more and to keep coming back to the arena.”

Qudos Bank Arena was the first venue in Australia to introduce the service. It is now approached by other venues on how the system operates.

Havern noted: “(We) will continue to expand on this successful implementation as part of the continual improvement strategy that has been adopted across all arena deliverables.”

Of the Ticketing Star Award, he said, “Said has been working in the live entertainment industry for over 20 years, and what comes with that is a wealth of knowledge, experience and understanding of the ticketing world. 

“Said is also very passionate about his work and alongside of his relatively small team brings great energy to the workplace. His drive, determination and attention to detail is also what sets him apart from most.”

For the year from Nov. 22, 2018, through Nov. 20, 2019, Qudos Bank Arena sold 506,924 tickets and grossed $46,642,177. The major draws were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phil Collins, The Eagles, Post Malone, Hugh Jackman’s “The Man, the Music, the Show” and Fleetwood Mac.