Changing the Perception of Stay-and-Play
Stay-and-Play is a policy used by more and more amateur tournaments to get the biggest blocks from the hotels closest to their venue, to control their annual hotel rate increases, and to achieve maximum roomnight tracking and pick-up. But for all of the benefits, the perception from clubs and teams is that it’s simply a way for tournaments to make more profit at the cost of the teams paying higher rates. Let’s look at both sides:
For the Tournament
From a Tournament Director’s prospective, the facts don’t lie:
- Block Size – Hotels will give a tournament or their housing companies bigger room blocks if they are protected by Stay-and-Play.
- Rates – For the hotel next to the convention center that bids a rate that is disproportionally high, how do you make them lower it? Without Stay-and-Play, you don’t. With that policy, if the negotiator cannot get the rate down, then they can at least severally reduce the number of roomnights that hotel gets.
- More Tracking, More Roomnights – What can a tournament do with more roomnights? Get lower venue cost; get more financial assistance or in-kind services from CVB/Sports Commission; generate more income to run a better tournament and/or to keep registration costs down; and donate more money to scholarships.
For the Teams
Historically, THS has been able to negotiate rates 15% lower with Stay-and-Play. Teams say that they can get lower rates, however in 99% of the cases, each hotel’s rates in the months leading up to a tournament are between 20% and 100% higher than the tournament’s rate. Also, THS has been able to keep the typical 5-7% annual increase hotels try to get to less than 2% per year for the JNC’s and the 7 Qualifier weekends we handle, since the policy was started in 2009.
But you also hear teams complain that they can get a lower rate by booking direct. Why the conflicting statements? Simply because the goals of the tournament or their housing company are not the same as the goals for any given team. A team calling a hotel for 15 rooms a year before the tournament will indeed get a low rate. However, the tournament isn’t booking 15 rooms, they need huge numbers – 4,000 for the Boys’ JNC and 7,500 for the Girls’ JNC for example. That changes the pricing by the hotels. So our goal is not to get the lowest rate for 15 rooms at a hotel, it is to get the lowest average rate for every room in that hotel that sleeps 4 people, even if we have to blend in some higher-cost corporate or transient rated rooms to get the large numbers of rooms the tournament needs.
A Better Accepted Stay-and-Play
Perception is reality, so it doesn’t matter if the facts bear out that the policy lowers hotel rates if many teams think otherwise. So USAV and THS are working on changing that perception.
Lowest Rate Guarantee – THS is launching the Lowest Rate Guarantee program as a focal point of Stay-and-Play. We have documented written requirements that once met, promises that if a team finds a lower rate than the tournament rate, THS will match that rate. This program is now listed on THS’s FAQ pages, and more prominently, displayed on each USAV and Qualifier tournament page on THS’s website with a link to the program details.
GDS Access through THS for Parent Reservations – A common complaint is that a parent finds a lower cost room on a discount website. While those sites limit the bookings to 1-4 rooms, have to be prepaid, and only offer a few rooms, they can be a good option for the parent that only needs one room for a few nights. In order to better service these individual room needs, THS has partnered with Orbitz to roll out a unique website to do just that. Like Expedia, Travelocity and other discount sites, parents will have access to make reservations at any hotel in a USAV or Qualifier city through this portal on THS’s website. This will be a live service in March.
You can read more about Stay-and-Play in the article written by Tom Berkman, President of THS and published in Sports Destination Magazine: