As a teenager, Gian Carlo Vizcarra had the opportunity to migrate with his entire family to the United States. He had quit journalism studies and was waiting for his petition when ABS-CBN Corporation’s public relations (PR) division hired him in 2004. He eventually chose to stay in the Philippines and afterwards completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Santo Tomas.
Fast forward to November 2019, Vizcarra was rehired by ABS-CBN to head business development for KTX, the ticketing service supporting the live events, studio tours and the fan loyalty program of the network.
“At that time under CRM (Customer Relationship Management), KTX operations were already running smoothly. But it was a small player in the ticketing business. You had the established names like TicketNet and TicketWorld. They were the ‘big fish.’ KTX was ‘small fry.’ I had just come from doing PR work for some theater companies and management agencies, and it was an opportunity to expand the reach of KTX outside of the network, because I practically know a lot of people in the business—who to talk to, what their needs are,” Vizcarra recalls.
Four months into his new role, the COVID-19 pandemic led to nationwide quarantine restrictions and all live events were cancelled. KTX pivoted to the digital space and captured a significant number of virtual events that provided much-needed entertainment to audiences seeking respite and sanity.
Breaking new ground
He says: “My longtime boss and mentor (writer/producer Joaquin Enrico Santos, vice president of ABS-CBN Film Productions or Star Cinema) instilled in me the drive to always break new ground. I take pride that KTX did break new ground. It was really something new and I am proud to be part of a pioneering effort, and at the same time contribute to the company’s objectives, at the same time help other people in the industry—artists and producers, among many others.”
Eight months into his KTX assignment, Congress denied ABS-CBN’s franchise application and the CRM division had to close shop. Together with more than 20 other colleagues at CRM, Vizcarra was winding down operations and informing, more of apologizing to, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders about some projects that would no longer push through due to the closure of the division.
CRM was shuttered on Aug. 31, 2020 but the following day, Santos, Star Cinema managing director Olivia Lamasan and ABS-CBN Global chief operating officer Aldrin Cerrado found a place for two people to run KTX, Vizcarra being one of them with Hedda Ocampo.
Santos, Lamasan and Cerrado saw the value as well as the potential of KTX to not just support ABS-CBN Films but a whole industry of producers—of movies, concerts and other events—who all need the platform to reach their market. And KTX did not disappoint. It thrived in the digital arena bringing the biggest virtual events direct to patrons’ homes.
“The challenge now is how to maintain and further strengthen KTX. We will have to find ways to make the brand even bigger and somehow keep it afloat even after the pandemic is over. I joined KTX when it was ‘small fry.’ I don’t want to go back to being ‘small fry.’ As a business, I always think that if we don’t earn enough, we will fold. That keeps me motivated every day. I have always been proud of KTX, and I am even more proud of what it has become the past months, and I will never drop this KTX ball,” Vizcarra says.
It seems that not going to the US, working on a variety of assignments in and outside ABS-CBN, and rejoining ABSCBN when it was just about to lose its franchise all worked to bring Vizcarra to KTX now.
Reflecting on the Lopez Value of a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, he says: “I enjoy everything that I do for KTX. I get to talk to people, help them with their goals. I get to work with brilliant bosses.
It’s all good and it brings me a different kind of fulfillment. I am accountable for it. And I welcome this accountability because I feel like KTX is so much a part of me and I want to make those people who launched KTX around four years ago to be proud of what KTX has become, especially then CRM head Richmond Ezer Escolar.”
His message to Lopez Group kapamilya: “Spend time and enjoy that KTXperience. Let us provide you with that ‘KTX,’ not just Kapamilya tickets, but that ‘key to experience.’ We want everybody to have different experiences,” especially in view of the many talented artists, filmmakers and event organizers who wish to connect with their audiences, even if only virtually for now. (Story/Photos by: Carla Paras-Sison)