WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT STAY-TO PLAY
WHAT IS ‘STAY-TO-PLAY?’
Stay-to-Play means that in order to participate in the tournament or event, teams and athletes must stay in one of the official hotels set up in the official tournament housing block. All reservations must be made through the designated reservation portal and must appear on the official rooming list and final compliance report. Stay-to-Play means that all teams that are attending a specific event are required to stay in a partner hotel.
THE HISTORY OF STAY-TO-PLAY
Years ago, Stay-to-Play did not exist. Athletes and families would travel to events and stay wherever they liked. At a glance, this seems perfectly fine. But as tournaments grew and hotels became aware that these events would be returning year after year, hotels began capitalizing on this. They were able to charge much higher than average rates because the rooms were in such high demand. With the adoption of Stay-to-Play, housing companies are now able to go to these hotels and negotiate. They are able to tell them that if they do not ‘play nice’ and offer reasonable rates that parents can afford, they will not be a tournament hotel option, hence not getting the hotel traffic for the event that they want and need. When a Stay-to-Play policy is put in place and managed properly, it benefits the hotel, the event producers and the parents attending. When the hotels, event producers and parents are both happy, the event continues to grow and it is a win-win-win for everyone involved.
THE BENEFITS OF STAY-TO-PLAY
Here are SOME of the benefits of Stay-to-Play and how they affect you as coaches and parents!
1. Economic Impact
The event producer is able to prove the economic impact they bring to the city. As an event producer, the first step to ensuring a successful event year after year is showing a host city that you are a good partner. With a Stay-to-Play tournament, all room nights are able to be tracked and reported to the city, proving the tournament’s economic impact via hotel stays as well as restaurant and attraction traffic.
Why should this matter to you?
There are a number of reasons this could affect you as a parent or coach, if the rooms are not tracked properly. Here are a few:
Event Dates: To secure the premier event dates for multiple years in the prime venue, the event producer has to prove that they are bringing enough people to the city to guarantee the economic impact for these dates for future years. For example, ‘ABC’ competition has taken place over a specific weekend for years and IS NOT Stay-to-Play. ‘XYZ’ tournament now wants to book their event over the same weekend at the same convention center and IS Stay-to-Play. Because ‘XYZ’ tournament can prove the number of attendees they will have traveling and can guarantee the number of rooms to be sold, they could get priority over the dates, causing ‘ABC’ to lose the weekend they have had for years. This could bump the event to a less desirable weekend for everyone. Events and tournaments are not only affected by other SPORTS groups but all other conventions, meetings and conferences, too!
The Schedule: ‘ABC’ competition has booked the entire convention center for several years, but IS NOT a Stay-to-Play event. Now ‘XYZ’ convention is coming to the city the same weekend, and the city decides to give them two of the halls in the convention center. Since ‘ABC’ cannot prove their economic impact to the city, they get bumped. ‘ABC’ has now lost two of their six halls, meaning they are no longer able to have a hall that is only used for awards. So, the awards now have to be worked into the competition halls, forcing a much longer schedule. Because of this, the event now has a schedule that begins at 7am and ends at 11pm, instead of beginning at 9am and ending by 9pm.This can be a VERY long day for both athletes and parents.
The City is YOURS!: The reporting that comes along with Stay-to-Play events that are citywide allows event producers to prove that they are covering the entire city. This keeps the local visitor’s bureaus from trying to pull in additional events and conventions during the same time, which translates to larger hotel blocks, more availability in restaurants and local attractions and discounts created just for you!
2. More rooms for tournament participants.
A hotel is far more willing to set aside a block of rooms for a tournament – even at a group rate – if they know the tournament is Stay-to-Play and can provide records of the pickup from previous years. Because of Stay-to-Play policies, hotels are more confident that the rooms will be sold. When hotels are more confident that the rooms will be sold, they are much more likely to contract larger blocks at the most desirable properties. In addition, housing companies are able to work with all hotels to make sure their rates are in line with one another and appropriate for the location and time of year for the event.
3. There is a higher likelihood that your team/program will be able to stay in the same hotel.
With larger blocks, there is a much better chance that we will be able to keep your group together, which in turn allows coaches the ability to hold team meetings or to contact individual team members or parents more easily.
4. It provides consistent, affordable group rates for everyone participating.
Hotel rates in general have increased since 2013 (according to www.statista.com). From year to year, a Stay-to-Play event will see hotel rates increase at approximately 50% the normal percentage increase.
THE PERCEIVED PROBLEMS OF STAY-TO-PLAY…EXPLAINED!
“This is only so the tournament company can make more money.”
Rooms will not cost more through the official blocks than if you booked separately on your own. If a team is able to secure something they feel is “better,” the housing company should work directly with that hotel to evaluate their situation and try to get them the same deal – or better. A great housing company will also be very proactive with communication to the parents to ease any of these concerns on the front end.
“Third Party Websites (Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, etc.) are cheaper.”
The rooms that can be booked on a third-party site do not have the same stipulations and cannot be compared to the rooms offered by your housing company. Special items may have been contracted within the group block such as free breakfast, waived resort fees, etc. The rooms on third party sites are often prepaid and have more stringent cancellation policies (often non-refundable). Also, you cannot get this rate for multiple rooms as it is often a ‘one off’ price. These sites normally include additional fees on top of the room rate once you commit to booking the room and room types are not
guaranteed. In addition, rooms booked through third party websites are ALWAYS the first to be walked if a hotel oversells their property, which means your room may not be available when you arrive onsite at the hotel.
“You don’t have the right to tell us where we can and cannot stay.”
Forcing you to do something you don’t want is absolutely NOT the intention. The purpose is to make your life easier. A good housing company will be happy to show your team’s travel coordinator all of the hotels that are available and will work with them to make sure they have the right fit. Think of it this way, the housing company has already done the work! You won’t have to negotiate, sign contracts, and definitely won’t be responsible for any attrition (a.k.a. paying a lot of money if your block doesn’t pick up as many rooms as they originally planned!)
I have a special situation. Can I be excused from the Stay-to-Play policy?
While exemptions do vary by sport and specific brands, there are often a variety of exemptions offered for event attendees. Specific exemptions for your event are likely to be found on your tournament website. Examples of common exemptions are:
1. USING POINTS FOR A FREE ROOM — If you have enough points to redeem them for an entirely FREE stay, you may be allowed to do so.
2. LIVING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY — If your home/sports location is within XX miles from the venue, you may not be required to stay in a hotel.
3. MILITARY DISCOUNT — If you are able to get a lower rate with a military or government discount, this may be accepted.
WHY STAY-TO- PLAY CAN BE A WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATION
• CVB’s & Sports Commissions get the reports they need to prove economic impact!
• Teams have great options at great prices & no stress or RISK of handling contracts on their own!
• Housing companies have the power to negotiate better rates and terms for parents and coaches!
• Hotels feel there is guaranteed business and streamlined communications!
• Event producers can prove their impact, keep consistent dates and offer a better overall housing service!
*NOTE: The information provided in this article is based on the policies and practices of Team Travel Source. Every housing company, CVB, hotel and event producer may handle their policies differently.