AttendStar tickets air shows across the country every year (air shows are one of our specialties), and one of our air show clients who always impresses us is the Cleveland National Air Show. We spoke with Dina Davis, Director of Finance and Ticketing for the Cleveland National Air Show for this month’s Client Spotlight interview.
What is the Cleveland National Air Show?
The Cleveland National Air Show is one of the oldest and most established air shows in the United States. It started in 1929 as the National Air Races, and in 1964, it became the Cleveland Air Show. The show is a Labor Day weekend tradition that typically attracts more than 100,000 ticketed attendees, and it’s estimated that another 100,000 unticketed spectators watch the show from parks, beaches, buildings, and boats.
The Cleveland National Air Show is a financially self-sufficient 501 (c) (4) nonprofit organization with more than 1,100 volunteers and staff pitching in to make sure the Labor Day air show is a success each year. It’s estimated that the Cleveland National Air Show generates a $7.1 million impact on Cleveland, Ohio every year.
In other words, this is an extremely popular event, and as you would expect with an event of this size and importance (the Cleveland National Air Show was named Show of the Year by World Airshow News Magazine and is one of the most prestigious aviation events in the country) there are many challenges. Dina and her team need to know that ticketing will work correctly.
Air Show Ticketing Made Easier with AttendStar
Dina has been working with the Cleveland National Air Show since 2009 when she started as an intern, but the show has been part of her life for much longer. She was born and raised in Cleveland and moved through the ranks from intern to gate captain and finally to her current role as Director of Finance and Ticketing. She has worked as both a volunteer and employee with the Air Show and says her fellow volunteers and staff have become a family to her.
“The air show industry is so unique,” explains Dina. “For us, it’s a year-round operation. At the Cleveland National Air Show, everything is so well-run that it can be intimidating to change anything, but to stay current, change is necessary.”
One of the key changes Dina and the team at the Cleveland National Air Show made in recent years was to offer online ticketing. Dina shares, “We didn’t want to lose our connection with the customer by moving to online ticketing, but Gary Bradshaw and his team at AttendStar have made us more efficient. We finally have accurate reports and can actually reconcile back to the ticket number! It’s all about the details, and now, we have those details!”
One of the reasons Dina believes the move to online ticketing has gone so smoothly is the large amount of time she and her team spent planning with Gary. “Gary came to Cleveland and toured our facility. He did a lot of research about things like facility awareness. We did our first show with AttendStar in 2015. Gary was in the office during the weekend of the show, and with him on-site, we were prepped for the weekend and out of the office by 8:00 on Friday night before the first day of the event. In prior years, we didn’t get out of the office on Friday night until ten or later.”
It’s that personal attention and expertise that sets AttendStar apart from other ticketing providers, particularly for large outdoor events like air shows. Dina explains, “Our event is held on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Labor Day Weekend. Gary and his team always arrive on Thursday night before the event. Friday is his on-site testing day, and he’s in the office all day with us. It’s great having him there if something goes wrong.”
“During the show, he and his team split up and go to different gates. They communicate with each other and us. If there’s an issue, all hands are on deck. Last year, our credit card machines lost their signal, but Gary had backup jet packs with him that he let us use. He also brings a backup satellite with his scanners that we use for scanning the tickets at the gates. Gary comes into the office on Tuesday to go through everything with us after the show. It’s great to have an extra body and if we need him, we can call him. Gary is all in!”
Dina has also been pleased with AttendStar’s customer service and follow-up. “Gary is so open-minded,” says Dina. “He asks what’s working and what isn’t working, and he wants to know what our customer concerns are. He digs deep! We give him lists of things we and others suggest after our show, and he tries to implement them. Gary isn’t opposed to suggestions, which is huge for us since we’re such a customer-first culture. We ask for things AttendStar has never been asked before, and they’re always willing to try to make it happen. It’s an experience you just can’t get from other ticketing companies.”
Check out This Year’s Cleveland National Air Show
“The Cleveland National Air Show is part of the inaugural Grunt Style Air Show Majors tour that is happening this year to spotlight some of the most prestigious air shows in the nation,” shares Dina. “Our show is one of just four shows on the tour circuit.”
The 2018 Cleveland National Air Show will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration. Tickets will be on sale in June, and you’ll be able to find them here on AttendStar (general admission and assigned box seats) or on the Cleveland National Air Show website.