Itís Friday afternoon and you are about to head upstate with your pee wee boys hockey team for the weekend. The kids have been anxiously awaiting this opportunity to travel and are very excited. Parents have been calling all afternoon to confirm when the team is leaving; what hotel the team is staying at; who the chaperones will be for the weekend and last, but not least, how the team will do in the tournament.
As coach and team administrator, you have worked hard to ensure that this weekend runs smoothly and the kids are prepared. You have done your homework on your first opponent and the others in your division. You have forwarded all the tournament registration months prior. The hotel rooms have been booked and you have arranged for eight parents to drive to the tournament and act as chaperones. The thought of getting away for a couple of days, coaching the kids and enjoying the atmosphere that hockey tournaments provide have always been your driving force when it came to booking the upcoming seasonís schedule. A four-hour drive, a half hour to get organized and you will be able to relax in your room and catch the second period of Hockey Night on the tube.
How can you as a coach and administrator ensure that the weekend you have devoted so much energy to is hassle free? Letís focus on the planning and preparation phase and look specifically at the accommodations for the weekend. Most tournament packages will provide a list of hotels in the region. Most will list the local hotel information and offer suggestions as to which hotels would be the best choice. However, if no information is listed, simply contact the tournament organizer. Be sure to ask for information on all of the hotels in the areas and for the fax numbers of each.
Most hotels do not offer a toll free number and if they do, the number generally puts you in direct contact with central reservations. You are much more likely to negotiate better rates dealing directly with the in-house reservation department than with central reservations.
The reason you want to obtain the fax number is to cut down on the amount of time you spend speaking with hotel representatives. On average, you would likely spend five minutes per call to obtain the required information. Your time is important and if you have to explain the same information to five different hotels, you will not only get frustrated, you will be paying a hefty price on your next phone bill.
You can achieve much better results and save a considerable amount of time and money by preparing a summary letter for the hotels that outlines your groupís requirements. The summary letter should include: travel dates; number and types of rooms needed; a list of any special requests such as cots, smoking or non-smoking rooms and whether the rooms can be located on a certain level and grouped together. In your fax, also ask what recreational activities are available at the hotel, what types of eating facilities are available, how far the hotel is from the tournament site and what is the best price they can offer your group (always ask for a free room if you are booking more than five rooms).
Acknowledge the number of chaperones traveling with the group and address the fax to the hotel manager. If possible, provide the hotel with a return fax number to send the information to you. They will be able to include brochures and all the information you have requested. Once you have received all the hotel information, you will be able to decide which hotel best suits your groupís requirements. When booking with the hotel of your choice, always use a credit card, always get the name of the person you have dealt with and always supply the hotel with a rooming list to speed up the check-in process. Always remember when traveling with groups that the cheapest hotel is not always the best. The hotel with the pool can sometimes be worth its weight in gold.
óGraham J. Brown
Graham Brown is president of Competitive Sports Travel & Tours. Visit their web site at <www.sport-travel.com>.
This first appeared in the 06/1997 issue of Hockey
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Posted: Nov 10, 2001, 17:17
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