There is no doubt our world in entertainment will be different in some shape or form. We expect that, but we have decided to control what we can control, and be prepared from a business stand point whatever may happen as things become clear for the 20-21 season.
Vice President of Ticket Sales
The interview with Paul Bee was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as the Vice President of Ticket Sales of the Milwaukee Bucks .
My main responsibilities with the Milwaukee Bucks falls into three buckets.
The first is to focus on the new sales aspect of our business. This is anything from what is happening from a single game aspect, to full season and group tickets, all the way to our premium ticketing areas at Fiserv Forum. All areas of ticket sales are important so that we can hit our revenue goals each year. Selling out every home game is the objective, which should lead to having a packed arena so our guys have one of the best home court crowds in the NBA.
Thw Bucks are a large portion of the focus, but our team is also responsible for selling premium spaces for concerts and Marquette University men’s basketball, as well as group tickets and premium spaces for arena shows.
The last focal point for me in my role is our sales and service staff. With over 40 reps, we are extremely focused on building careers here through our program. We constantly recruit individuals who have the drive to learn, and become a star in our industry. We are dedicated helping our reps achieve their career goals and hope that one day they will all be running their own staffs in sports in some shape or form if they choose to.
2. You’ve had the opportunity to work in ticket sales both in the NBA and the NHL, how similar or different are these two roles?
The two are very similar in regard to the business. Both leagues have very similar ticket packages and strategies. They each have about the same number of games, same time of year they play, and the obvious of both playing indoors, which in most cases I am a big fan of.
The physical differences are the obvious ones, but present different opportunities for in game engagement. This is especially true when it comes to Group Sales Fan Experiences. A lot more can be done on court pre game, halftime, post game, then in many situations it can on the ice.
I think from a fan perspective I felt hockey fans are extremely passionate about the sport itself. They want to see a good game, period. From a basketball stand point, I feel the players are a big motivating factor in many cases. Fans come for the pure entertainment and experience over all. This is just my opinion, and of course there are variances on both sides, but both leagues have fantastic fans who provide amazing atmospheres for the athletes to play in.
What was your experience like holding a high-level position in the hockey industry for 4 years before returning the NBA? How different or similar are the leagues in terms of work culture?
I was blessed to have an opportunity to work for an Original Six team in the NHL and one of the top brands in sports. The experiences I was able to be a part of are moments I will remember forever.
Spending time in what was the iconic Joe Louis Arena, to be a part of the last year at The Joe was truly amazing. The planning and implementation of planning for Little Caesars Arena and District Detroit are days that will be with me forever. We accomplished something truly amazing for the city of Detroit and I am extremely proud and appreciative of my time there.
When I had the opportunity to come back to the NBA, I was really excited. Basketball is a passion of mine, and to get my start thereafter playing college ball way back in the day was a blessing. To get back into the NBA was one I couldn’t pass up. Even more so to be able to join a quality organization like the Bucks was very appealing.
The two leagues have many similarities in regard to work culture. I think pro sports sales teams, in general, all have the same work hard, play hard mentality. In my opinion, the NBA as a league is always forward-thinking in regard to the business. To have the drive to be an industry leader, make sharing best practices a must, and to be ahead of the curve when it comes to social issues is awesome to be a part of.
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously had a massive impact on the sports industry, and perhaps affecting those in ticket sales the most. How has the pandemic affected your operations and how will it affect you in the 20-21 season?
That is a great question, and there is still a lot of answers that are unknown about how our world will change as a whole. What I can say is that has really allowed my staff to take a step back, slow down, and work to get better at the little things we all tend to let slip as sales professionals.
We took an approach of still reaching out to prospects and fans to establish relationships. It is clear that now is not the time to be asking people to purchase tickets as aggressively as we used to, but because our crew is taking more time to establish better relationships, we have still been able to move the need in regards to making full-season sales.
With so much unknown, I don’t think some of these could have happened if the team wasn’t as dedicated to focusing on the little things to get better and slowing down. I give a ton of credit to my managers and directors who oversee those teams directly who have spearheaded the focus of our team.
There is no doubt our world in entertainment will be different in some shape or form. We expect that, but we have decided to control what we can control, and be prepared from a business standpoint whatever may happen as things become clear for the 20-21 Season.
In college, you were a dual sport athlete of basketball and track & field. How has your experience having been a student-athlete helped you become successful working in the sports industry?
Being a dual sport athlete was huge for my preparation for the sports industry. The base level of continuing to grow with how to be a better teammate and person was a big one. To be able to compete at a high level also kept the competitive fire that I believe helped me do well in sales.
There were a lot of lessons learned. I failed, I was injured, and I lost in many situations during my four years at Aquinas. I also was a part of a historic team, was able to contribute, and most importantly received a degree.
The ability to go through all those ups and downs while staying focused in my studies really prepared me well for the fast-paced sports industry. I think those four years contribute heavily to being able to juggle all there is working in sales and sports.
Stacey's Final Thoughts
Paul Bee is lucky enough to have worked in not just one but two major sports leagues, both the NBA and the NHL. But even his extensive experience in ticket sales could not prepare him for the unavoidable changes looming in the sports industry. Paul’s optimism will guide the Bucks and continue to foster the same success they’ve seen on the court, with the ticket sales department.