Northern Lights Stay and Play Policy
Guaranteed lowest group rates at approved hotels & FREE rooms
As part of this year’s event, we are requiring non local teams to make housing reservations at a Northern Lights approved hotel before they will be accepted into the tournament.
Each non-local team will need to book a minimum of 12 room nights. (1 room night is equal to 1 room for 1 night, so 12 room nights would be equal to 4 rooms for 3 nights.) in an approved hotel through our housing agency. The definition of a local team is found here.
Benefits you will receive
- Again this year is a 1/15 room nights paid comp policy for teams in Minneapolis. For every 15 room nights actually used, a team will be awarded one comp room night (the 16th night) at hotels other than the two headquarter hotels (the Hilton Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Downtown). Parent rooms may be counted for this comp award as long as the specific team name and age group is included in the parent reservation. Last year we gave away over $92,000 in free room nights!
- We will guarantee the lowest group rate possible at our approved hotels. If you call one of the hotels on our approved list, and are quoted a lower group rate for the same dates, call us. All of the approved hotels have guaranteed us the lowest available group rate on these dates. (This does not include special rates such as AAA, AARP, Government, corporate negotiated, or discounted single room rates.)
- We have the best hotels and more rooms available at those hotels this year. Based on your input from last year we added properties you requested and took away properties you didn’t like. Remember we are booking hundreds of rooms and all of the hotels want a piece of that action.
- We have a wide range of prices starting at $89 per night. We also make sure each hotel is a quality property and appropriate for teams. If it’s not, we won’t have it on our list. For 2017 we removed a property that was used in 2016 because it was not acceptable to teams who used it that year.
- We will periodically run a rate integrity check on our hotels. If the hotel lowers the price for one group, everyone at that property gets the lower rate.
- Travel agents can book the rooms. Travel agents may book rooms for a club, but the rates shown are net rates.
The reasons for this new policy
- Convention Centers are built by cities to generate business for the local economy. The use of the Convention Center is contingent on our group generating a minimum number of hotel room nights. In order to show that we are generating the required number of hotel nights, we need a complete and accurate list/count of all the rooms booked. (Rooms which are booked outside of our room block do not count.) By utilizing a housing management company, such as THS, we are able to capture this information and show the convention center that volleyball is generating enough room nights to warrant continued use of the facility. This is becoming more important as competition for convention center space has dramatically increased over the past 3 years.
- Many people believe that booking rooms through us increases the price for the rooms. The opposite is actually true. Since we are willing to sell large blocks of rooms it forces the hotels to contain their prices to remain competitive with one another. Prices from 2005-2008 in Minneapolis escalated as the hotels felt that they had a “lock” on the business. Once we instituted the Stay and Play Policy in 2009, hotels lowered their rates from their original quotes. There is no doubt rates at all the metro area hotels would be significantly higher if we did not use this leverage. Hotels which have set rates that we consider unreasonable have not been accepted as Tournament Approved Hotels.
- Our room block size in the downtown hotels had steadily been declining prior to 2010. The hotels have given us fewer and fewer rooms so that they could sell more rooms at a higher rate outside of the block. With this new policy we have now had hotels come back to us and grant us larger room blocks at the lower group rate. This means that more people will be able to get into the “good” hotels at a reasonable rate.
- It is not a secret. Northern Lights does get a rebate based on the number of hotel rooms booked. This income is needed to make the event function. Entry fees for the event over the last 10 years have increased by only $40 total, that’s about 0.5% over 10 years. Meanwhile expenses for the event have increased by by 10-15% each year. Without the hotel rebates, the entry fees would have to increase by several hundred $ a team to make the tournament financially viable.
Other interesting facts
The popular notion is that rates are cheaper at hotels “outside the block” because the hotels raise rates to cover a commission to the event. This is not accurate. Our approved hotels offer lower rates, because we assure them we will sell their rooms, and they still pay commission. If you don’t believe us call our approved hotels and try to book a group of rooms for the dates of the tournament without mentioning the Northern Lights Qualifier or the group rate and see what you will pay. (If you get a quote for a lower group rate, call us immediately, as the hotels are required to guarantee Northern Lights attendees the lowest group rates.)
Hotels outside a block have a vested interest in trying to stay outside the block – it allows them to capitalize on the work the event does to bring customers to the city, to keep all the money they collect from you and to raise rates to cover a commission if they have to pay a travel agent. These hotels are definitely not putting money back into your pocket nor are they supporting volleyball. Hotels that are in the block are supporting volleyball through the rebate that Northern Lights receives and uses to operate the event.
If you are still not convinced, compare rates at the major tournament hotels at other National Qualifiers to those in Minneapolis if you think using an approved hotels raises rates.
Please call THS Toll Free at 888-536-8326 if you have one of the following situations:
- You have a travel agent and want to continue using this agent.
- You don’t book rooms as team, but rather each parent/athlete books a room individually. This is very easy to handle.
Remember, you are guaranteed the lowest group rates at our approved hotels (excludes corporate negotiated rates, AARP rates, AAA rates and government rates).
- Team reservations may be pre-booked using our Loyal Customer Rewards Program between October 9 – October 11.
- Your team must be entered in the tournament and it’s entry fee received in the Northern Lights office before you can reserve hotel rooms.
- For teams & parents not participating in the Loyal Customer Rewards Program reservations may be made starting on October 23. See our hotel page for links to the Reservation site.
- You can also set up a block of parent rooms for your parents to log in and draw from.
If you have special needs, please contact THS directly at 888-536-8326. They will be happy to help you out.
Your help and understanding in this matter is keeping the hotel rates lower for everyone.
Thanks for supporting the Northern Lights Qualifier.