Triple Crown's new lodging policy for its 2009 World Series youth tournaments may come off as heavy-handed, but it's actually a reasonable attempt to level the playing field for local lodging properties that benefit from the tournaments.
In a story in last week's Steamboat Today, Triple Crown Sports confirmed a new lodging policy that mandates teams participating in its tournaments spend a minimum number of nights with "preferred lodging partners." Preferred lodging partners will be those that work with Triple Crown to secure reduced rates for Triple Crown families, as well as other negotiated concessions such as a commission for Triple Crown and free lodging for Triple Crown employees.
To satisfy the policy, teams must book a minimum of six hotel rooms for five nights or condominium units that total 10 bedrooms for five nights with a preferred lodging partner. If the requirement is met, other members of the team can book rooms with any lodging property they want. Teams that choose to say with non-preferred lodging partners will be charged $500 by Triple Crown.
The truth is, many Steamboat Springs lodging properties have been working for years with Triple Crown management to negotiate team rates, provide rooms for Triple Crown employees and umpires, and even pay commissions to Triple Crown for its business. The new policy is an effort to force all local lodging properties to play the same game - i.e., negotiate price deals with Triple Crown and offer some concessions to a company that provides a consistent customer base for 10 weeks each summer.
We expect many area lodging properties - particularly the larger property management companies - to continue to negotiate with Triple Crown to provide rooms for their customers, this time with the moniker of "preferred lodging partner" attached.
For those business owners and lodging properties that have expressed dissatisfaction about Triple Crown's presence in our valley, the new policy provides an opportunity to free themselves from the Triple Crown burden. They might even find additional business through marketing themselves as Triple Crown-free.
While the policy may seem heavy-handed, it's hard to find fault with Triple Crown for trying to maximize its business while also putting local lodging properties on even footing. The ones who stand to lose the most are those that have refused to work with Triple Crown in past years because they knew Triple Crown families would end up in their hotel rooms or condominiums regardless.
While the policy itself is reasonable and not uncommon for many tourism-based organizations, Triple Crown does itself no favors in the court of public opinion. Triple Crown and Steamboat Springs have had a love-hate relationship for years, and policies such as these do little to win local support for a continued contractual relationship between the city and Triple Crown. It's silly, as Triple Crown executive Sean Hardy did last week, to cast stones at businesses that make money off Triple Crown customers by stating they offer the company nothing in return. Unless we're sorely mistaken, Steamboat Springs has been very good to Triple Crown throughout the years, helping it grow its business and providing a world-class resort destination in which to hold tournaments that are consistently well attended. We suspect that if Northwest Colorado didn't offer substantial benefit to Triple Crown, Dave King would have made good with his threats to leave the local market for greener fields elsewhere.
The bottom line is that Triple Crown is a business, and like any business, its goal is to make money. From a dollar perspective, Steamboat Springs and Triple Crown have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship throughout the years, each providing revenues for the other. It ultimately will be up to Triple Crown players and families to determine whether the company's new lodging policy is unfair. Regardless, we expect local lodging properties to continue to work for Triple Crown business. With the state of the economy and a less-than-rosy economic forecast for 2009, the city of Steamboat Springs and many of its businesses aren't in a position to turn their backs on substantial revenues.