‘Don’t play ball in the house’

As the Brady children said during a famous episode of “The Brady Bunch,” “Mom always said don’t play ball in the house.” If you do not know the story, the Brady boys play ball in the house anyway, and Peter’s unruly pass of a basketball results in Brady mom Carol’s favorite vase getting broken. 

Earlier this year, I began to travel personally for youth sports events with my children. My property always hosted sports teams both on the weekends and during the week, but recently the importance of sports-related travel to the hotel industry has been made clearer to me.

The hotel industry must adapt and realize these wise spenders are seeking the best deal not only just in rate, but also value. Most of these “sports parents” are also taking this time to actually turn the game or tournament into a mini family vacation. 

Location and knowledge are key. Location is probably the most important aspect of a team’s decision to pick a hotel, but engagement of the hotel’s associates with the parents and children is probably the key to success and having a smooth team experience not only for the team but other hotel guests. It is important to ensure your hotel associates understand the event, location, times of games and any scheduling changes that might occur. Also, adding welcome signs or even knowing the outcome of the game with some congratulations will go a long way not only with the kids, but also the parents — the true financial decision-makers.

Set house rules. Setting clear expectations on “house rules” for both the parents and children will also help in keeping the hotel more orderly. Yes, the parents sometimes can be more of a challenge than the kids, but typically if you engage everyone at check-in you can almost count on the experience to go better for the guest, other guests and the associates of the hotel. 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For those hotels that do not include free breakfast, consider offering a lower-cost breakfast choice. That’s a great option for these sports groups and helps to keep the revenue in the hotel. 

Give them space. Dedicated team space is another important component that teams are looking for when choosing a hotel. The ability to use a great room to gather or a room to accommodate equipment will not only save the wear and tear on the guestrooms, but also keep other guests from being disturbed. 

Whether it is a local league, school league or even leagues outside of school, and whether young or old, we all know sports teams can be a challenge. But with a few welcoming tips and well-trained hotel associates that understand this market, your hotel is sure to not only satisfy the guests, but also keep them coming back time and time again.