For most people, the success of the Kansas City Chiefs' organization is defined by the number of wins and losses the team has in any given season, but for the dozens of members of the support staff who also strive to be the best in the league at what they do, but don't necessarily suit up and take the field on Sundays, their personal and professional wins can be measured in different ways.
For example, the Chiefs' travel department, which is made up of Mitch Reynolds—the Football Operations Manager, and Spencer Williams—the Football Operations Coordinator—has achieved a level of success over the past few years that's unmatched around the league.
Both were recently honored as the league's "Travel Directors of the Year" for 2017.
It's an award that's voted upon by every hotel that was used by any NFL team over the previous year, and the award is presented at the league meetings each spring.
It's the second time Reynolds has won the award, which actually makes him the league's first-ever two-time winner of the honor. He won the same award back in 2013, and the Chiefs have actually finished in the top three in the voting of the award in three of the past five years.
Basically, Reynolds and Williams are the two in charge of booking the travel for all of the Chiefs' games, which includes all transportation and security, hotel rooms and accommodations, and making sure that everything goes without a hitch every step of the way.
But their responsibilities don't end there. They also plan events and do all of the logistics for training camp every year, and during practices and workouts, they are running around with the scout team—getting the team prepared for their upcoming opponent.
"It's a very behind-the-scenes job," Reynolds explained of handling all of the travel. "If you're going to book travel for yourself, you're really 10 mouse clicks away from having your entire trip booked—the airplane ticket, the hotel, and a rental car—it's all done. But to do it for 175 people, it takes months of hotel contracts and airline contracts, rooming lists, going through floor layouts and meeting room setups, and everything else along those lines that goes with it.
"There's a lot of work that goes into it and if you do a job good job, nobody notices. No news is good news. The only time my phone rings on the road is if something goes wrong."
Williams, who interned for the Chiefs in 2013 before being promoted to his current position, explained that a lot of their prep work each year can be done in advance because they will know which teams they're playing on the road, although they won't have the exact dates until the schedule comes out.
"Our main thing is entry and exit," Williams explained. "It's one of our primary functions. What hotel gives us the best chance to get in and get out without a lot of problems. When these hotels meet with us and say they can get our party of 175 people checked in and up to their rooms in seven minutes, that sounds great to us. Our goal is just to make it as easy as possible."
Every year at the same league meetings that the awards are presented, the top hotels from across the country will come and present to all of the teams. They will provide diagrams of their facilities, available dates and other pertinent information to help Reynolds, Williams, and their peers across the league begin to make lists of who to call once the schedule is released.
The goal is to have all hotel contracts wrapped up by May—just a month after the schedule is released. After that point and in the days and weeks leading up to the trip, it's a lot of communication with the hotels on the finer details.
"We're talking about the flow throughout the night—what they can expect, peak times when they can expect large groups of people, and how we want meeting rooms set up because we want to mimic the Chiefs' offices," Williams explained of that communication process. "We just explain our program to the hotel and share our expectations. We want to be as clear as possible, which means it's a lot of conference calls throughout the week.
"There's a lot of give and take—a lot of compromises because these hotels know their facility and layout better than we do."
The ability of Reynolds and Williams to properly communicate everything they need in advance is one of the reasons they're viewed so favorably by the hotels and various people they work with on setting up the travel each year. It's why they've won the award twice in five years.
For Reynolds, who because of the respect he's gained across the league for how he handles his business has recently led him to become the head of the NFL's Travel Director's Meetings each Spring, the small and tight-knit fraternity of travel directors across the league provides an invaluable resource to each of them to use should they ever have any questions.
"We talk throughout the year," Reynolds explained of his peers across the league. "All of us are pretty close and pretty open and pretty candid when we know it's just going to be the 32 of us talking at these meetings. A lot of the info stays in the room. We're a tight group. We are each other's best resources because we all go through the same thing and although the teams play, it's not like we're going against each other. No one wants to see anyone else fail."
"Mitch has been great at teaching me to over-communicate on the front end," Williams added. "And to make sure that every little thing that we could possibly think of that might seem small to us, make it as big as possible to the hotel, so we've overcommunicated that.
"We know it's not always going to go perfect, and it's about how we handle ourselves in those moments when something does go wrong and being flexible during those times."
Overall, the ability of Reynolds and Williams, who also go out of their way to make sure each individual coach and player have whatever they want during these trips, to make the travel for the 175 or so people going to the Chiefs' road games each week a smooth process, obviously won't show up in a box score or anything, but it's one less thing the players and coaches who do have a hand in determining wins and losses each week have to worry about in the 36 or so hours they have out on the road before the game.
So, when it comes to booking travel for an NFL team, you might never see or hear about the people behind the scenes who do this work, and if all goes right, you never will, but they matter, and the Chiefs boast two of the best in the league.
"We always pride ourselves on saying we want to be the best in the league at what we do," Williams added. "So, it's an honor when you see your name up on that board and win this award in front of your peers."