Of Radisson Hotel Group’s seven national sales teams, the highest revenue goals are for its sports tourism unit, according to Director of Global Sports Tourism Jonathan Miller. The Denver-based director says Raddison’s “Sports Approved” program, which trains properties to better meet the needs of sports groups, is one way the brand sets itself apart. Miller’s previous experience with sports event planning, including five years of operating the company “Play and Stay,” gives him an interesting perspective on the amenities that most appeal to sports groups.
What was the biggest challenge you faced switching from event planner to industry supplier?
First of all, I had very limited experience working in hotels. I had a lot of experience working with people who worked for hotel brands, but as far as being those people myself I had to make a big transition. I knew who my customers are going into this new position, so I was able to really communicate effectively from the inside, and likewise represent my new customers internally to our hoteliers. Those were opportunities that made it a really great situation for me.
What sets Raddison apart from the other brands working in this arena?
Raddison has a program called “Sports Approved,” which essentially allows properties to raise their hand and say to the sports community, “Look at our hotel.” As a matter of fact, our Country Inn & Suites brand was recognized by the American Group Travel Association as the top sports hotel brand for sports teams in the country. We are working very closely to train our hoteliers in the intricacies of hosting sports groups, which is unlike any other market in travel. Having our hoteliers well-versed in those uniquenesses is very important, and has really started to pay dividends for us.
What are some of those unique features you see when you’re hosting a sports group?
As a Country Inn & Suites by the Radisson property, we create a complete dossier on the incoming sports group in terms of who they are, where they’re coming from, what event they’re competing in, who their coach is and their history with the hotel. At each hotel, we have two people assigned to that group, primary and secondary contacts, whose responsibility it is to reach out to the teams and make sure they feel that their needs are being met. Also, our Sports Approved hotels include a breakfast component in their rate, and provide a complimentary washer and dryer usage for the team on a one-time basis. We try to go out of our way to make sure they know where they need to get to for their competitions.
Tell me about the range of sports groups you have coming in.
It really runs the gamut, everything from youth sports to professional sports teams. It just depends on the property. Our Radisson Blu Hotels in Minneapolis and Chicago are very popular destinations for NFL teams that are playing against the Vikings and the Bears, and the Radisson Hotel in Green Bay, Wisconsin is the home base hotel for the Green Bay Packers.
Have you ever gotten to meet one of your favorite players?
No, but when I was at the National Football League’s Travel Directors meeting, I got to meet the team travel coordinator for the Washington Redskins, which is my home team that I grew up with as a kid. We got to reminisce about my favorite Redskins players, so that was pretty cool.