As the popularity of youth travel sports continues to grow, many hotels have asked us what they can do to make their property the top choice for the teams coming in for our customers’ tournaments and become a “best hotel for teams.”
Outside of including breakfast and having a pool (two BIG wins when looking to get teams to your hotel), here are some other things that hotels can offer that we’ve seen go a long way with teams and keep them coming back year after year:
1. Offer a free space for teams to gather in:
One of the best things a hotel can do for their sports groups is to offer up a free meeting room for the players and their parents to congregate. Most teams love the opportunity to have their own space to come back to in between and after games, and hotels find it to be helpful because it keeps their large groups from congregating in hallways or lobby areas, where they may get in the way of the other guests at the hotel.
In terms of what to have in the room, a “blank slate” is usually best – some groups may request a couple of tables or chairs for them to use but generally, just having the open space for them to use however they would like seems to me the most requested.
To make the space even more inviting and fun for the group, some hotels even have some board games or a Wii that the team parents can sign out from the front desk and have the players use to keep them entertained during their down time.
2. Have helpful information on hand:
Many hotels will ask for the team’s schedule in advance of their arrival, but many times the tournament schedule can change right up until game day, so it’s difficult for the front desk to have that information on hand to provide to parents (and most of the time, the parents are able to keep track of this information on various team apps).
However, a few other things that hotels can have on hand that are always helpful are the following:
– Directions to each of the fields / venues where the games are being played.
– A list of local restaurants that accept large group reservations or where they can place large take-out orders.
– Information about local attractions or discounts that may be available to attendees of the event (can usually be obtained by reaching out to the local CVB).
3. Make the teams feel welcome:
In addition to providing each guest with a warm welcome at the front desk, some hotels will create welcome banners for each team coming to stay with them, and these will go a long way.
The banners themselves don’t even need to be fancy – any public acknowledgement that the team is welcome at the hotel and that you are happy to have them staying at your property is a great way to help ensure the teams will come back year after year.
4. Adjust on-site breakfast / dinner / bar hours as needed:
Though schedules are subject to change, if it’s possible to find out when the teams’ first / last games are, our groups have found it extremely helpful if the hotel is able to do the following:
– If the games are expected to go late and the hotel has an on-site restaurant or bar, teams are always appreciative if it’s possible to keep the restaurant or bar open for an extra hour to give them the chance to grab a bite to eat or drink after a long day of games.
5. Consider hiring a temporary security staff member for down time:
While this may seem excessive or “unwelcoming” to some, many hotels we’ve worked with have found it very helpful to hire an additional security staff member to be at the property during the groups’ anticipated down times, and if managed properly, the teams / guests appreciate it too. It’s just another way hotels can ensure the kids are safe while at the hotel and helps to reduce any possible disturbances to other guests at the hotel.
Additionally, having an additional staff member on hand to tend to the groups allows the hotel front desk staff to focus on their main responsibilities and alleviates the need for them to enforce curfews or other restrictions that may be in place to help protect the group and the other guests at the hotel.
While this may come at an extra expense for the hotel, many find the small investment worth it due to the amount of money it saves in potential damages and refunds due to disturbances that sometimes come when hosting large groups, as well as the increase they see in overall customer satisfaction.
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