We’re heading to the world of Rugby Union for our latest Industry Insider as we sit down with Oliver Lawrenson, London Irish’s Ticketing Manager. We chatted about all things career, his weekly ticketing responsibilities and much more!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hi! I am Oliver Lawrenson and I am currently the Ticketing Manager for Gallagher Premiership Rugby side, London Irish Rugby Football Club. I am from Liverpool and have moved down south for work after completing a degree in Football Business and Media at UCFB Etihad. I have previous work experience at Surrey County Cricket Club, Adidas, Ear To The Ground and Burnley Football Club within the commercial and social sides of the sport, but have really focused in on the commercial and ticketing side in recent years.
I am currently also working on a freelance basis for the likes of Brentford Football Club and the RFU when required.
What do you do in your current role?
As the Ticketing Manager, I control and head every aspect of the club’s ticketing system, making sure that everything is working and online as it should, all whilst trying to develop new innovative ways for our supporters to access their tickets and enter the stadium.
I might be massively simplifying my role but that gives everyone the general outlook of what I roughly do.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
During game week, the pressure to make sure every task is done before game day itself is so unique. As many people within the sports industry can relate to, you are receiving requests left, right and centre and you are having to constantly adapt to each individual task and prioritising each request on the go.
A rough guide on what I do, would see me do the following:
- Making sure that the ticketing website is ready and working for the increased volume of traffic of people wanting to buy tickets.
- Going on sale with matches and setting up payment gateways.
- Selling match tickets when a supporter calls up to purchase.
- Checking the London Irish App is working with tickets pulling through to the ticket wallet page.
- Testing at the stadium, adjusting the access control requirements. Generally speaking, making sure that people who have season tickets and match tickets get into the ground and people who don’t are turned away.
- Produce day by day match day reports to give to our CEO so he knows how everything is looking.
- Fixing and adjusting any ticketing equipment that may be broken or need recalibration.
- Creating sales messaging on socials to push further sales.
- Making sure all players, coaches and off field staff are given there allocations in time to distribute.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I have wanted to work within sport as long as I can remember. Whenever going to the match as a young lad at Anfield (yes, I am a Scouser and Liverpool fan), I saw people working matchday, whether it be with the players, coaches, media or hospitality, and thought that it was so cool to work within this environment on a daily basis. Since then, all my efforts have been very focused towards building a career within the sports industry.
As stated previously, my initial aim was to work within the media, which is why I took the Football Business and Media course at university. However, having learnt about the commercial side of sport through my degree, I saw this as a better use of my skillset. Therefore, I organised work experience at Adidas during my final year of university, and this gave me the springboard to positions that I have since held at Surrey CCC and London Irish RFC.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Making sure that I am producing the highest possible standard of work within my field. For me, I am a perfectionist and I take massive pride in providing a great service and hearing how seamless the ticketing side of our club is working. Whether it be the website or the flow rate through the turnstiles, I want everything to be ideal for the supporter who is trying to come and watch London Irish.
This is why I go out and do extra work at the likes of Brentford FC and the RFU. These opportunities give me experience at larger events and allows me to learn from some of the best within the sports ticketing industry. This also benefits me greatly from a networking standpoint as well, building relationships with the best in the sector that I can either help or call upon in the future.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Before a game, seating arrangements at a stadium had changed without me being notified. This meant seats which no longer existed where sold. This is something I noticed during my match week checks luckily a week before the fixture was meant to happen. The situation was then fixed in good time; however, it is lead to me learn and adjust from this experience. Therefore, I am now in direct communication with all the relevant parties to make sure all information that I require is relayed to me at the source when the decision is made.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think the use of new technology to push the boundaries of ticketing and how it can make a supporter’s ticketing journey as efficient as possible, is something that makes me extremely excited. From virtual venues, where the supporter can see roughly what their view from seat will be, to NFC tickets, where a supporter can just scan the back of there phone on the reader like Apple or Google Pay. There are plenty of new technologies that personally, I want to learn about and introduce in the future, if we haven’t already.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I would love to see either a networking event or zoom call where all the professionals within a certain field can connect and share ideas once a month. For me, as an individual who wants to take the next step in terms of ticketing knowledge, I think having access to some of the biggest names in the industry, whether it is sport, music, or theatre, would be a blessing for me. I can also see the positives of this for new individuals looking to start their career in sports ticketing. However, I can fully understand why this currently isn’t in place due to how busy we all are!
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
Funnily enough, as you are surrounded by sport, I understand people who try to get away from it to relax. I do the complete opposite and fully lean into the environment and try to go to or play as much as I can. Whether it be going to Liverpool matches, watching matches at Wembley or attending England Rugby fixtures at Twickenham, I love to be involved 100% of the time.
I am fortunate enough that I am able to attend several events a year and I don’t take it for granted. Nothing beats going to a sports event and at these I get to sit down without running around in the background .
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Go out and get work experience and network. These are so important to get into the industry in the first place. Getting into sport is the hard part initially, but once you are in, you can connect and network with some of the biggest and best people around. You never know, a 2-minute conversation with someone could be the difference in you getting an opportunity in the future.
How to follow Oliver Lawrenson…
LinkedIn: Oliver Lawrenson