How To Do “Stay-to-Play” the Right Way
By now, most event organizers are familiar with the term “Stay-to-Play.” Simply put, Stay-to-Play is a policy which states that all out of town attendees to an event are required to stay in hotel blocks set up and managed by the organizers as a condition of participation.
While the benefits of a Stay-to-Play policy are clear across the board, one of the main concerns we hear from our customers looking to implement this policy is how to do so successfully without alienating their attendees.
We’ve put together a list of 5 tips for successful implementation of a Stay-to-Play policy for your next event:
1. Communicate the Benefits
Done correctly, Stay-to-Plays should be a win for all parties involved, especially your attendees. Some of the many benefits for attendees of a Stay-to-Play event include:
- Lowest group rates
- Hotel blocks at preferred hotels closest to the event location
- Better coordination between hotels and event organizers, ensuring seamless event experience
- Increased likelihood of groups being able to stay together
- Qualifying of area hotels to ensure “event-approved” hotels will meet teams’ needs
Whether you’re just implementing a Stay-to-Play policy for the first time or you’ve been doing it for years, it’s wise to have a clear understanding of these benefits so you can properly explain them to those who might not see them right away. Additionally, if you are working with a qualified housing provider like Pse, they should also be able to explain and communicate these benefits to any attendees who may have initial concerns about it.
2. Ensure Lowest Group Rate for Attendees
One of the major benefits of Stay-to-Plays is the ability to maintain the lowest group rates for attendees while also being able to collect on rebates that help you to sustain and grow your event.
In order to do this, you should first understand the regular and group rates of the hotels in the area to come up with a plan that will make sense for both you and your attendees. If using a housing provider, they can use their knowledge and relationships with the hotels in the area to make a recommendation for a rebate amount that will allow you to maximize your revenue while also ensuring the lowest group rates for your attendees. Additionally, many hotels are more likely to offer the lowest group rates to a housing provider they have worked with successfully in the past vs. a group they have had little experience with.
3. Use a Housing Provider with a Proven System
There is no hard and fast rule stating that you need to use a housing provider in order to implement a Stay-to-Play policy – but it certainly helps in a whole lot of ways, including:
- Increased attendee satisfaction: Your housing provider should have the necessary technology to provide a great booking experience (like our newly upgraded booking system!) and a dedicated customer service team available to provide personalized service when and where your attendees need it.
- Increased hotel compliance: Your housing provider should also be keeping track of all hotels and groups booked, as well as the rates being charged at each, making sure that all participating hotels are complying as they agreed to with the Stay-to-Play policy.
- Easy tracking of teams / hotels: Lastly, your housing provider should provide you with an easy to access, up-to-date list of where all groups are booked, as well as what rooms are still available.
4. Set Your Dates and Locations as Soon as Possible
It’s hard to enforce a Stay to Play if you don’t have enough rooms for all of your attendees to stay in. So when it comes to making sure you have enough suitable hotel rooms available, timing is key. We recommend setting up your blocks as soon as possible in order (up to a year in advance, if possible) to ensure you will have the best, closest rooms to your event – and of course, you need to know your dates and locations in order to do so.
Additionally, when deciding your dates and locations, your housing provider should be able to assist you in determining whether or not there will be enough housing options for your attendees, based on their knowledge and experience in the area. They will be able to make some suggestions on ideal dates and venues to help ensure you’ll have enough rooms for everybody.
5. Be Firm, But Fair
Of course, a 100% compliance rate for a Stay-to-Play policy is ideal, and once you put it in place you will want to be as firm as possible, but there may sometimes be exceptions. You may want to consider what exceptions you would be willing to make to be sure you’re getting as close as possible to that 100% compliance rate without alienating your attendees.
One common exception includes groups who are close enough that they do not need rooms overnight. You can set a distance radius (ie. groups within 75 miles of the event) exception so that teams considered local do not need to comply.
Working with a housing provider with a great customer service team will also help in identifying situations that might cause you to exempt people from policy due to truly extraordinary circumstances. Additionally, your housing provider should be prepared to adjust hotel options based on your attendees’ needs (ie. creating blocks that your customers can afford, etc.) that will help to reduce the need for exemptions in the first place.
Questions about making your next event a Stay-to-Play? Contact us!