The Eighth Man

Stay and Play Has to Go

This season, the IQA introduced the “Stay and Play” policy, which requires teams to stay in hotels that are approved by the IQA’s travel planner, All About Group Travel (AAGT). According to the IQA, this is mutually beneficial for all parties, as it provides guaranteed, cheaper rooms that are closer to the tournament, as well as “superior service” in regards to any travel issues that might arrise. It also provides the IQA with valuable data on the number of rooms filled by major tournaments, which can increase the quality and volume of bids for future events.

But while the information gained from Stay and Play does do a lot for the IQA, it’s clear that teams are suffering. Most notably, Marquette was forced to drop out of World Cup VII, vacating a pot three spot after the drawing and reducing the overall quality of the tournament field, after being unable to cover the hotel rates given by AAGT.

Perhaps the most concerning part of all of this is that many of the promises that served as the pillars for the initial announcement by the IQA of the policy have simply proven untrue. Let’s take them one at a time, and see exactly where this plan is falling short. In total, the IQA makes four claims as to why AAGT and Stay and Play are our best options:


Cheaper Rooms: This is a lie. Yes, it’s nice to have a full kitchen, lazy river, a hot tub, and a fitness center, but no one needs anything more during a tournament than a place to sleep. The players are competing all day, maybe eating what they can, when they can, and then going back to their room to pass out and prepare for the next day. I’ve never once heard a quidditch player complain about not getting to cook a homemade meal the night of a tournament, or not being able to get their workout in after a day of working out, before another day of working out. The lazy river might interest tourists there on vacation, but a quidditch player is there for one reason: to play quidditch.

Either AAGT doesn’t understand their demographic, or they just don’t care and are only getting the priciest hotels so they can make more off the markup. Anything more than a place to sleep is a luxury that quidditch players do not need or want, and only serves to raise the price. AAGT pricing is 78 dollars per person for two nights, which works out to 156 dollars per night for a four-person room. A quick google search reveals dozens of hotels with rooms for under 100 dollars per night, and many for less than 50 dollars. The IQA and AAGT need to reevaluate their demographic, and realize it’s mostly college kids just looking for a place to crash, not families looking for a place to vacation.

What makes it even worse, though, is that AAGT isn’t even finding us deals on the select few hotels offered. In fact, the “deals” they’re giving us are actually more expensive than if everyone had booked the same hotels themselves. This chart was compiled using data from each hotel’s respective website, and compares that info to the AAGT pricings.


Closer to the fields: Also a lie. The Towers on the Grove resort – one of four options for players at World Cup that players were assigned more or less randomly – is a 12-minute drive from the fields. The Quality Inn & Suites nearby is a nine-minute drive, and rooms with two beds start at 75 dollars per night, compared to the Towers on the Grove price of 147 dollars per night. Sure you don’t get the beachfront property, but we’re not playing beach quidditch.


Guaranteed Rooms: This is nice if World Cup was being held in the middle of nowhere, but it’s not and never will be again. For the second consecutive year, the World Cup is in one of the most popular vacation cities in the world, in a non-peak vacationing time. This benefit, while it’s not outright false like the others, is useless.


Superior Service: This is essentially the promise that the AAGT staff will be on hand in order to solve problems that may arise in transportation, check-in, or hotel service. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve stayed in hotels outside of quidditch, I’ve never had an issue trying to check in, and if there was a problem with the hotel service, the hotel handled it perfectly well. As far as transportation issues go, yes, it’s nice that AAGT can help teams get transportation, but they do it for a price, and their track record after a shoddy World Cup performance in Kissimmee isn’t the best.

Still, at least you have someone on hand 24-hours-a-day when you need them. Except, of course, at Midwest Regionals, when they didn’t have a representative on hand because, get this, the price of the hotel was too high.


So, what are the real benefits for the players of booking through AAGT? Unless you’re a fan of paying extra for amenities that you didn’t want in the first place, there are none.

Sure, the IQA gets its numbers to use for future bids, but if it’s forcing teams to drop out of tournaments due to excessive costs, then it’s not worth it. It’s time that the IQA shop for a better travel planner, or demand that AAGT start working with more reasonably-priced hotels, or even just starts getting us decent deals at the ones we use now.

As it currently stands, this policy is doing nothing but hurting the players, taking unnecessary money out of already sparse budgets, weakening the competition by forcing dropouts, and all and all proving that the league is willing to settle for mediocrity in the companies it works with. I want to trust that the IQA has its reasons for continuing to go with AAGT, but their currently publicized ones have now been picked apart ad nasuem, and they owe their due-paying public a new one.



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