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What is Stay-to-Play?



Stay-to-Play means that in order to participate in the tournament or event, teams and athletes must stay in one of the official hotels set up by the official housing company. All reservations must be made through the designated reservation portal and must appear on the official rooming list and final compliancy report. Stay Smart means that all teams that are attending a specific event are required to stay in a partner hotel. 




Several years ago, Stay-to-Play did not exist. Athletes and families would travel
to events and stay wherever they liked. At a glance, this seems perfectly fine.
But as tournaments grew and hotels became aware that these events would be
returning year after year, hotels began capitalizing on this. They were able to
charge much higher than average rates because the rooms were in such high
demand. With the adoption of Stay-to-Play, housing companies are now able to
go to these hotels and negotiate.  They are able to tell them that if they do not

'play nice' and offer reasonable rates that parents can afford, they will not be

a tournament hotel option, hence not getting the hotel traffic for the event that

they want and need. When a Stay Smart policy is put in place and managed

properly, it benefits both the hotel and the parents attending. When the hotels

and parents are both happy, the event continues to grow and it is a win-win for

everyone involved.



Here are SOME of the benefits of Stay-to-Play and how they affect you as coaches and parents! 
The event producer is able to prove the economic
impact they bring to the city. As an event producer,
the first step to ensuring a successful event year after
year is showing a host city that you are a good partner. 
With a Stay-to-Play tournament, all room nights are able
to be tracked and reported to the city, proving the
ournament's economic impact via hotel stays as well
as restaurant and attraction traffic. 

Why should this matter to you?

There are a number of reasons this could affect you as a parent or coach, if the rooms are not tracked properly. Here are a few:

  1. Event Dates: To secure the premier event dates for multiple years in the prime venue, the event producer has to prove that they are bringing enough people to the city to guarantee the economic impact for these dates for future years. For example, 'ABC' competition has taken place over a specific weekend for years and IS NOT Stay-to-Play. 'XYZ' tournament now wants to book their event over the same weekend at the same convention center and IS Stay-to-Play. Because 'XYZ' tournament can prove the number of attendees they will have traveling and can guarantee the number of rooms to be sold, they will get priority over the dates, causing 'ABC' to lose the weekend they have had for years.  This could bump the event to a less desirable weekend for everyone. Events and tournaments are not only affected by other SPORTS groups but all other conventions, meetings and conferences, too! 

  2. The Schedule: 'ABC' competition has booked the entire convention center for several years, but IS NOT a Stay-to-Play event. Now 'XYZ' convention is coming to the city the same weekend, and the city decides to give them two of the halls in the convention center. Since 'ABC' cannot prove their economic impact to the city, they get bumped. 'ABC' has now lost two of their six halls, meaning they are no longer able to have a hall that is only used for awards. So, the awards now have to be worked into the competition halls, forcing a much longer schedule. Because of this, the event now has a schedule that begins at 7am and ends at 11pm, instead of beginning at 9am and ending by 9pm.This can be a VERY long day for both athletes and parents. 

  3. The City is YOURS!: The reporting that comes along with Stay-to-Play events allows event producers to prove that they are covering the entire city. This keeps the local visitor's bureaus from trying to pull in additional events and conventions during the same time, which translates to larger hotel blocks, more availability in restaurants and local attractions and discounts created just for you!

More rooms for tournament participants.
A hotel is far more willing to set aside a block of rooms for a tournament – even at a group rate – if they know the tournament is Stay-to-Play and can provide records of the pickup from previous years. Because of Stay-to-Play policies, hotels are more confident that the rooms will be sold. When hotels are more confident that the rooms will be sold, they are much more likely to contract larger blocks at the most desirable properties. In addition, we are able to work with all hotels to make sure their rates are in line with one another and appropriate for the location and time of year for the event.
There is a higher likelihood that your team/program will be able to stay in the same hotel.

With larger blocks, there is a much better chance that we will be able to keep your group together, which in turn allows coaches the ability to hold team meetings or to contact individual team members or parents more easily.




"This won’t sit well with my parents."

A good housing company will make the booking process VERY EASY for parents. Rather than being looked at negatively, parents view this as a very simple process. Team Experience Specialists work directly with the assigned person from each club and make sure that the contact has every detail necessary to send out the correct information with the reservation link. Booking sites can be customized to each team, so there is no question that they are in the right place and booking the right room. Parents will also feel comfortable that they are getting to stay in the same block as their teammates. Additionally, parents that book rooms in the block can be provided with with extra event updates, city incentives, emergency alerts if needed, etc.  Parents will be appreciative of the simple and stress-free process.

"This is only so the tournament company can make more money."

Rooms will not cost more through the official blocks than if you booked separately on your own. If a team is able to secure something they feel is “better,” the housing company will work directly with that hotel to evaluate their situation and try to get them the same deal – or better. A great housing company will also be very proactive with communication to the parents to ease any of these concerns on the front end.

"Third Party Websites (Expedia, Travelocity,, etc.) are cheaper."

The rooms that can be booked on a third party site do not have the same stipulations and cannot be compared to the rooms offered by your housing company. Special items may have been contracted within the group block such as free breakfast, waived resort fees, etc. The rooms on third party sites are often prepaid and have more stringent cancellation policies (often non-refundable). Also, you cannot get this rate for multiple rooms as it is often a ‘one off’ price. These sites normally include additional fees on top of the room rate once you commit to booking the room and room types are not guaranteed. In addition, rooms booked through third party websites are ALWAYS the first to be walked if a hotel oversells their property, which means your room may not be available when you arrive onsite at the hotel. 

"You don't have the right to tell us where we can and cannot stay."

Forcing you to do something you don't want is absolutely NOT the intention. The purpose is to make your life easier. Our Team Experience Specialists are happy to show your team's travel coordinator all of the hotels that we have to offer and will work with them to make sure you have the right fit. Think of it this way, we've already done the work! They won't have to negotiate, sign contracts, and definitely won't be responsible for any attrition (a.k.a. paying a lot of money if your block doesn't pick up as many rooms as they originally planned!) All they have to do is select the available hotel that they would like for your group and a TTS Specialist will take care of the rest. They will send out a custom booking link to send out to parents and they can each book what they need on their own. The team housing contact will have access to your group's personal dashboard they can always see exactly what is going on with your block. We will even send them a text message reminder before the block expires! We really are here to make this a positive experience for you and your team. We handle all of the back and forth communication with the hotels so you don't have to! 

"You don't even offer the hotel that we want."

We work very hard to contract the most desirable properties, based on location, rate, amenities, safety and customer reviews. 

In the event that we don't have the hotel you would like already contracted for the event, let us know what you'd like and we are happy to reach out to the property and work on getting a contract in place. 

"You say there are no more rooms but I can clearly see they have them on their website."

Yes, you are correct. There is rarely ever a time that a hotel will allow a block to take over every single room in their property, for a variety of reasons. 


A hotel is required to make a certain number of dollars per night from room sales. When we contract a room block, we are requiring them to give us the absolute lowest possible rate. So...if an average rate is $149 per night and we are contracted at $139, the hotel has to find some other way to make up the difference in that revenue. Now they will be selling rooms outside of our block at a higher rate in an attempt to recover some of this income.

A hotel may also want to hold some of their rooms in the hopes that they receive a block request from a group that requires internal meeting space and food and beverage. Several hotel properties rely heavily on the income from their meeting/food and beverage sales (think about a wedding, conference, or group that requires a dinner). This is something sports groups rarely utilize. Therefore, a hotel may be holding some inventory in an attempt to move their meeting space and make a profit on food and beverage.

You may ask, "Can we get some of those rooms added to our block?" Sometimes we can. We are happy to reach out to your desired hotel to see if we can increase our block so that we can help you get your choice of hotel. If we are able to show that the contracted rooms are already sold (which is why it is important for your teammates to book their rooms very quickly!), they are more likely to give us additional inventory. There are times when a hotel will only give us additional rooms if the new inventory is at a higher rate due to supply and demand, but we do our best to keep the cost down for you.

Also, please do keep in mind that if you are looking for a team block and see that a hotel has rooms available that we are not offering, there may only be a few of those rooms available and not enough to house an entire team. Hotels always like to keep a 'couple rooms' available on third party websites (even when sometimes they are sold out). 

Image by Jannes Glas
History of Stay-to-Play
The Benefits of Stay-to-Play
The Perceived Problems

I have a special situation. Can I be excused from the Stay-to-Play policy?

While exemptions do vary by sport and specific brands, there are several exemptions offered for event attendees. Specific exemptions for your event can be found on your tournament website. Examples of common exemptions are:

  1. USING POINTS FOR A FREE ROOM — If you have enough points to redeem them for an entirely FREE stay, you are allowed to do so. 

  2. LIVING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY — If your home/sports location is within XX miles from the venue, you are not required to stay in a hotel. 

  3. MILITARY DISCOUNT — If you are able to get a lower rate with a military or government discount, this will be accepted.



If housing companies and Stay-to-Play were removed from the equation, hotels would be able to bid one program against another and room rates could skyrocket. Programs would likely also be required to sign for attrition when setting up their own group blocks, meaning they are guaranteeing the sale of a specific number of rooms. In the event that these rooms are not sold, the program is responsible for paying the difference. It would be like the "Hunger Games" in that all programs would be competing against each other for the best hotels and the best rates, going up against ALL of the other programs attending the event, and there is only so much to go around. This would also take up a LOT of time for the club contact to deal with housing when they should be focused on preparing for competition. 




• CVB’s & Sports Commissions get the reports they need to prove economic impact!

• Teams have great options at great prices & no stress or RISK of handling contracts on their own!

• Housing companies have the power to negotiate better rates and terms for parents and coaches! 

• Hotels feel there is guaranteed business and streamlined communcations!

• Event producers can prove their impact, keep consistent dates and offer a better overall housing service!

















The information provided in this article is based on the policies and practices of Team Travel Source. Every housing company, CVB, hotel and event producer may handle their policies differently. 

For the answers to additional questions regarding Stay to Play and how it is managed by Team Travel Source, please contact and a TTS team member will be happy to assist you.

What if Stay to Play Disappeared?
Why Stay-to-Play is a Win
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