Leadership / 03.15.23
Katherine Tran: One of the Most Valuable Members of the Crew in Columbus
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Katherine Tran currently serves as Senior Director, Premium, Membership Services & Event Hospitality for the Columbus Crew, an American professional soccer club based in Columbus, Ohio. In that role, her duties and responsibilities include overseeing the team’s Service Department, which is responsible for the service and renewal of all season ticket members for the Crew. Additionally, she oversees the Event Hospitality department. “We are responsible for all private internal and external events at Lower.com Field, Historic Crew Stadium and OhioHealth Performance Center,” she says.
When asked what her and her team’s primary objectives are, she replied, “The goal? The goal is to generate revenue and retain revenue for both sides of the business!”
And that’s what Tran and her staff have been doing for this legacy soccer team. Indeed, the Crew has competed in Major League Soccer (MLS) since 1996 when it was one of MLS’s 10 charter clubs. It is a member of the league's Eastern Conference and is presently operated by an ownership group spearheaded by the Haslam family, who are also the owners of the Cleveland Browns, and former team physician Pete Edwards. The Haslam/Edwards group is the third ownership group in team history.
Tran loves the history of the franchise and is proud to be part of its continuing traditions. She also enjoys heading a staff of similarly dedicated ticketing and live event professionals. She says, “My favorite part of my job is helping and watching my team grow personally and professionally. I’m passionate about what I do from a day-to-day standpoint, but nothing is more rewarding than seeing growth in others. I hire people who want to challenge themselves and grow personally and professionally within an organization. My job is to help them do just that! When I get to promote someone or watch them achieve a personal milestone, it solidifies why I do what I do.”
In terms of ticketing innovation, Tran is delighted the Crew has partnered with Ticketmaster to offer fans an optimal digital ticketing experience. Fans can download the Crew App to manage and use their game-day tickets. Fans are urged to add their tickets to their Apple Wallets or Google Pay in advance of each game for seamless entry. Also, express touchless entry is now available, delivering seamless and quick access into Lower.com Field via Facial Ticketing. Fans can enroll by clicking here.
Tran has been with the Crew since October 2021 when she was hired to serve as Senior Director, Premium & Membership Services. She added Event Hospitality to the job title in January of this year. Before being welcomed by the MLS team, Tran was Director of Member Services for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils from December 2019 to the time of her departure. Her first experience in pro sports — and soccer specifically — was with FC Dallas, an MLS team that competes in the Western Conference. During an eight-plus-year stint there, her job titles ranged from Fan Relations Specialist to Manager of Fan Relations to Director of Membership Services.
So, from her experienced vantage point, how has MLS and the Columbus Crew specifically improved the hiring and career support of women over the years? “It all starts with recruiting and breaking away from the ‘norms’ when searching for talent,” she says. “I believe over the last few years, hiring has become a proactive and full-time job to seek out the best talent. We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. Organizational culture is of the utmost importance, and we invest in our staff with a true focus on diversity. By showing other women that there are endless opportunities for growth in our organization, we continue to strengthen our staff and retain top talent.”
When things get tough for her personally, Tran can always rely on the strong foundation she built for herself while as a student at Baylor University. There, she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in sports, sponsorship and sales. She says, “A college professor told me to make myself irreplaceable wherever I go. It’s something that I live by, and it’s advice that I continue to give to others who are looking to make their mark in the industry.”
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Tags: Leadership , Major League Soccer , MLS