How Many Kids?  

Having been a teacher, I’m not really bothered by “kids being kids”. I mean, when you put more than one of them together you’re going to have some action. Last week, we traveled to Birmingham for a youth soccer tournament. Apparently there was also a girls softball tournament happening that same weekend. We were late booking our room and ended up in a hotel that doesn’t usually host tournaments. As a matter of fact, this was their first. Over the course of the two days, I counted six different team jerseys. Multiply that by roughly 15-20 kids per team, and that is a whole of kids.

I can see why a hotel wouldn’t want to host teams for youth tournaments. Having over a hundred kids racing up and down the elevators, stairs and hallways could spell trouble. But it also can spell a whole lot of cash and guaranteed business year after year.  Many tournaments have a “stay to play” policy. This means that the teams that play in the tournament are required to book in hotels associated with the tournament. This is a beneficial relationship for all involved. The hotel can count on filling up their rooms. Often the hotel will pay a commission to the tournament for booking large blocks of rooms. By booking quality hotels, the tournament ensures that the participating families are happy and the families who book through the tournament get discounted rates.

We have traveled quite a bit for tournaments over the last two years and overall have had good experiences. When the hotels know how to plan, even a hundred kids and their families can squeeze in and have a pleasant experience. Here are some things to keep in mind if your hotel agrees to host a tournament:

  • Kids are going to be kids. Now this doesn’t mean that they should run wild through the hotel causing damage. But it does mean that there will be small passels of girls and/or boys traveling back and forth between rooms and common areas. Don’t assume they are stirring up trouble.

  • Don’t give away rooms that have been reserved. Four out of thirteen families of our team arrived at the hotel only to be told they didn’t have their rooms. Each one of them had called ahead to say they would be checking in late and each one was assured they had their rooms. Many people travel after work on Friday to reach these tournaments. Expect late check-ins and honor their reservations.

  • Agree to late check-outs. Most tournaments have games on Sunday mornings that determine afternoon championships. Families who have a game at 9am and then one at 3pm, need a place to stay in between. Offer at least a couple of team rooms for late check-out. You will be appreciated and those guests will return.

  • Stock up on coffee, bagels, cereal and fruit. Also be prepared for a bigger than normal early breakfast rush.