Looking at utilizing a stay-to-play policy for your next tournament or event? There are many benefits for doing so, but implementing it the right way is highly important to help make sure it is well received and highly successful.
Determine if Stay-to-Play is Right for your event
The first then you need to do as an event owner is to make sure stay-to-play is a fit for your tournament or organization. Factors such as your event history, travel in rate, participant demographic and others can impact your chances of success when implementing a big change like stay-to-play.
Partner with the Right Housing Organization
Finding a good 3rd party housing group is very important, doubly so if you plan to implement stay-to-play since you’ll want to have more options in-place for tracking your participants room nights and reservations. While you could handle hotel room blocks, negotiate rebates, comps and more on your own, we highly recommend working with one of the top housing groups available who can help in far more ways than that.
Guarantee the Lowest Group Rates Available
Whether utilizing stay-to-play or basic hotel room blocks, it’s always important to try and negotiate the guaranteed lowest available rates for those rooms. The last thing you want is to jack up the rates through rebates and housing party fees to participants who go online and find cheaper rates through the likes of Expedia and Hotels.com type websites. It will make it hard for you to justify stay-to-play being cheaper when it clearly isn’t and the last thing you want to do is price out your players and teams. Setting up those room blocks well ahead of your event, ideally a year or more in advance can go a long way in securing the lowest available rates.
Communicate the Benefits to your Participants
Being able to effectively relay to your participants all the benefits of being a part of a stay-to-play event can help minimize any issues you incur from them. Having a good plan to do so is important, as is making sure you get the word out effectively and with good timing to minimize any questions and complaints. In my experience it can also be very difficult to get participants and team captains to read all the communication that goes out, so you’ll want to be proactive to ensure they fully understand the stay-to-play policy, what their options are, and what the consequences of breaking the policy can be.
Try to Minimize Exceptions
How you handle teams and participants that want to opt out of the stay-to-play policy is very important as well, whether you have an added cost to those who decline or make exceptions. The more exceptions you make, the harder it can be to continue being able to enforce the policy and if word gets out you aren’t going to enforce it strongly, it can be hard to maintain. There are good reasons for exceptions, such as having family members in-town that they can verify where needing to book housing is negated among other reasons, but be careful to not do too many favors that can come back to bite you.
Feel free to drop your own tips and questions below for event owners to help us all continue to try and make our events better all around!