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#MarketingMonday: Molly Wurdack-Folt (MSA '07)

Monday, January 11 2016 12:51pm

Wurdack-Folt, Director of Ticket Service & Corporate Partnership Marketing for the Detroit red Wings, talks about the challenges & excitement of opening a new arena in "Hockeytown"

Q & A by Todd Moore

Hockeytown Detroit

What is your day-to-day role as Director of Ticket Service & Corporate Partnership Marketing for the Red Wings?

 I oversee two teams under the client retention umbrella- Ticket Service & Corporate Partnership Marketing. My Ticket Service team is comprised of 6 individuals that work daily to service, retain and up-sell our current season ticket holder base. My Corporate Partnership Marketing team has 4 individuals who are responsible for complete execution of our corporate partnership contracts.


 
Construction recently began on the new arena for the Red Wings. How is your team managing partners and assets to finish strong in the Joe Louis Arena era, but also be prepared to capitalize on the excitement of a new arena?

We started our partnership meetings with clients for the new arena back in June. We are meeting weekly with partners to show them the project and determine their level of interest and partnership. The sales process here is much slower than a suite or premium seating sale however it is a priority for us to drive revenue and get dollars on the books as quickly as possible.

While we have a strong focus on selling the new building we are still making the last two years at the Joe a priority. We are having discussions with those partners who have any gap years between now and the fall of 2017 to ensure they are part of the last year at the Joe.

We are continuously searching for new business and definitely using the new building as leverage with those opportunities. We have a number of partners that have been with us for many years so to be able to be part of the transition from Joe Louis Arena to the Detroit Events Center is pretty exciting.

 

The Molson-Coors / InBev merger has been a big topic in the partnership world recently, and your partnership with MillerCoors was set to expire after this season. Do you anticipate that impacting the category or changing how your team approaches the renewal?

At this point in time I do not anticipate that this will affect our partnership with MillerCoors.

The partnership between the NHL and MLB Advanced Media has MLBAM becoming the new infrastructure provider for NHL team websites. Do you see that leading to new opportunities to package digital assets for partners?

 MLBAM is certainly a very robust group with an extensive breath of capabilities. The relationship between MLBAM and MLB is very different than what our partnership will be with them.

I do think they will be able to provide digital assets for partners but how that all comes together remains to be seen. We are working through all those details now and hope to have a more definitive look and feel to our future over the next 6-9 months.


What would you say is the biggest marketing challenge you face today?

Battling the at home viewing experience. The TV broadcast is becoming increasingly better and fans have the luxury of private restrooms, cheap beverages, and comfortable seating in their own home.

Being able to provide a viewing experience here at the arena that can compete with this is always going to be a challenge. Not providing this type of fan experience affects your ticket sales, which in turn affects the value of your sponsorships.  

 

What have you and your team done, or plan to do, to overcome that challenge?

 Our team works diligently to ensure that the game experience is second to none and that fans truly enjoy themselves each and every night. From giveaways to in-game entertainment, fan engagement to improved technology, we constantly have an eye out for ways to make the arena viewing experience better.

Ultimately there is no better way to experience hockey than through live viewing.


 
What was the importance of the Ohio Sports Administration program in your career and personal development? 

The program opened my eyes to an industry I quite honestly knew nothing about. I was an undergraduate business and psychology major. It wasn't until I entered my first year in the MBA program that I started to gain an understanding and appreciation for this business. It didn't take long, working a few Ohio football games and participating in some real world projects, to realize that this was an industry filled with tremendous excitement, challenge and opportunity.

I credit the program with showing me the way and opening doors that I may never have had the opportunity to walk through.

 

What is the best piece of advice that you could offer someone trying to find a career in marketing or corporate partnerships?

Your path to this side of the business may not always be a traditional one. Be open to other courses and you will ultimately end up where you want to be.

I knew coming out of grad school that my passion was for sponsorship and that is where I wanted to be long term. What I didn't know was that taking an unconventional route to work on the ticket side of the business gave me a whole new look into the industry and ultimately has helped me tremendously when I went back to work on the sponsorship side.

 

Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you could share with us?

The biggest project for us at this time is selling and preparing for the Detroit Events Center (opening September 2017). Our sponsorship sales initiatives will continue through the opening of the building.

We will begin relocating all of our current season ticket holders from Joe Louis Arena to the new building in February 2016. There is an extensive amount of work to be done but a tremendous project to be a part of.