Need Hotel Space? Here’s the Latest Information | Sports Destination Management

Need Hotel Space? Here’s the Latest Information

Mar 01, 2024 | By: Nic Collins

The news is good: Tournaments are back and travel has returned. Families are headed out onto the road (and into the air) with all the happy enthusiasm they had before 2020 hit. But what has changed and what hasn’t? Here are some insights.

Unchanged: America’s appetite for sports and for travel to get to those sports. We’re seeing the numbers bounce back in a big way. People are not only traveling to tournaments but they are building in an extra day or two to do some sightseeing and enjoy some downtime. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going, no matter what the outcome of the game is.

Unchanged: The need for housing once families get to their destinations. Everyone wants a place to drop their bags, get a good night’s rest and just unwind at the end of a long day on the playing field. Also unchanged is a need for properties that have all the amenities everyone wants.

Photo © Karen Foley |
Photo © Karen Foley |

Some of the most requested configurations are rooms with two queen (or king) beds, and often, with a sleeper sofa as well. This is a great way to accommodate everyone in the family, and perhaps a friend who is playing in the tournament as well. Suite properties are also popular and among families traveling with multiple children, a kitchenette may be appreciated.

Another popular, request is a breakfast buffet or a hot breakfast. While these were curtailed during the pandemic (with options limited to grab-and-go carts or boxed breakfasts), breakfasts are up and running again. The presence of a breakfast buffet or hot breakfast is so important to many travelers, in fact, that it can make the difference between a hotel that gets first preference and one that is the last choice. Room service is back as well.

Unchanged: The demand for a pool, particularly among youth teams. Whether the pool is indoors or outdoors, it generally becomes a gathering place for youth athletes at the end of the day, and it’s a great way of containing all the kids in one place on the property. Parents, meanwhile, tend to enjoy this amenity just as much since it allows them to catch up with one another, enjoy a beverage and just relax after a day at the field.

Unchanged: The popularity of free parking. Guests do not want to pay for parking, particularly if they will be going and coming throughout the duration of the tournament. It is important to note that some hotels do not offer free parking and may, in fact, have parking arrangements taken care of by a vendor; it is important to ask during hotel negotiations (more on that in a minute).

Changed (in Some Cases): Daily housekeeping. Where once, the hotel staff would routinely enter a room every single day during guests’ stay to vacuum, replace towels, etc., the pandemic pressed a big reset button. Now, many hotels do not offer daily housekeeping services unless the guest specifically requests it. However, this is not something that will hold true across the board. Daily housekeeping may be available, or it may be something your guests can opt into, or out of. (Tipping the housekeeping staff, upon departure, however, is still appreciated and should never be overlooked.)

Changed: Wi-Fi used to be an amenity that guests paid for at certain properties; today, many hotels are offering it free of charge (or at least rolling the cost into the room rate so that guests are not hit with extra charges upon checkout). With the sharp increase in teleconferencing, it has become advantageous for hotels to simply offer reliable internet connectivity to guests.

Negotiating for What You Want

If you are planning a travel tournament, hotel space is going to be an essential piece of the puzzle. As always, you should be making those plans well in advance. Registrants like to have all information in one place when they sign up, so every tournament website should include not only the dates and location of the tournament (and of course, the competition venue or venues) but also complete information on housing.

You can negotiate with hotels independently or you can approach your convention and visitors bureau and/or sports commission about getting information on local hotels, and on any services or assistance the CVB or sports commission may provide in that regard.

Having a Partner

Photo © Nataliia Zhekova |
Photo © Nataliia Zhekova |

In many cases, and particularly when planning larger events, it benefits the event owner to work directly with a housing company. Housing companies can provide a streamlined approach to results-driven hotel negotiations, consumer-driven customer service, maximized revenue and consolidated reporting to show all hotel economic impact.

Housing companies provide a representative who will talk to the event director about the tournament itself, including the dates, the expected numbers of athletes, any desired hotel amenities and room rates, staff rooms and transportation as well as any preferences the event director may have in terms of specific hotel brands, properties that are located near the competition venues(s) or near destinations for sightseeing, amusement, dining, shopping and other attractions.

In conversations with a housing company, it is essential to mention the tournament format: How long is the tournament itself? Are there guaranteed games so that you know the room numbers needed will remain unchanged for a few days? Is it a one-and-done tournament? Do you expect travelers on the shoulder nights? What are your comp room goals/staff room numbers? The answers you provide will shape your room block needs.

Housing companies know the markets in each destination. They also have more clout when it comes to negotiations, which means that often, they are able to negotiate better, more efficiently and with less liability. For example, an event director unfamiliar with hotel negotiations may be unable to get full and accurate consolidated reporting, revenue paid on time, maximize hotel cut off dates, achieve the best rates overall with rate guarantees and other protection clauses. By contrast, a housing company is experienced in these requests, and is generally able to achieve success for all.

If there is a charge for parking, meeting space or even breakfast at the property, for example, the housing company may be able to negotiate reduced costs for this (or may be able to find a way for the hotel to offer these amenities to all tournament registrants free of charge).

A housing company can help you create a customized portal on your tournament website that takes registrants to a special landing page where they can explore the hotel options available to them with the best rates and inventory and book right then and there, without having to wait or call around.

Housing companies will also have not only contacts and buying power in their favor but can leverage technology to help streamline operations through use of a housing platform that allows them to streamline the booking process, organize all recordkeeping and keep up to date with all live metrics.


A housing company is also your best option for creating and enforcing a stay-to-play arrangement. As previously mentioned, the housing company can create a customized booking engine including tournament-approved hotels and other team friendly resources. Because the housing company is also able to provide information to the event director through back-end reporting and audit teams who are booked versus registered, the event director will be able to assist in maximizing the teams’ hotel participation by being a part of that enforcement.

By offloading the work of negotiations and customer service to professionals who are skilled in it, event directors can spend more time on what they do best: managing and running the event. And while athletes might not notice the presence of a housing company during the event, they will certainly appreciate the better experience they’ll have at the tournament overall and especially where they stay the night. This allows the event director to give them undivided attention and worry less about hotels.  SDM

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