10 Things to Know About Hotel Wedding Blocks
When planning your wedding weekend, hotel guest room blocks are often an afterthought. It is just as crucial to do your research on hotels as it is your wedding venue and honeymoon location. You want to find the best fit for you and your guests during your special weekend. Here are 10 things to keep in mind before securing a block of hotel rooms.
1) Choosing your wedding date
Finding the perfect wedding date is not just about picking your favorite season or your venue’s availability. If you are having out of town guests then you must consider what events are taking place in the city you are getting married. Watch out for any major events such as large conventions, concerts, sporting events, festivals and college graduations that would affect room rates, availability and room night minimums which could discourage guests from attending your wedding.
2) How many guest rooms do you need?
You need to estimate how many guest rooms that you need to determine the amount of rooms you should secure. Count up your number of out of town guests and divide it by two. This will give you a high but safe estimate to go by. Keep in mind some guests will choose to stay outside of the hotel block or with family and friends.
3) Do Your Homework
Investigate a variety of hotels that are located near your wedding venue or city attractions and restaurants. Look into full service and limited service hotels giving your guests options based on their budget and needs. Review their websites and compare their amenities. Call the hotel sales offices and ask questions.
4) Courtesy Room Block vs. Guaranteed Room Block
A courtesy room block is typically a block of 10 rooms that the hotel holds at a special negotiated rate over your dates without any penalty if the room block does not materialize. The hotel will give you anywhere between a 90 – 30 day cutoff date for your group to book their rooms by. After the cutoff date passes the hotel will release any unbooked rooms back into their general inventory.
An attrition room block (Guaranteed Room Block) is a block of 11 plus rooms that you are held accountable for if the room nights do not pick up. The hotel will charge you a penalty if your guests do not book the agreed upon percentage per the signed contract by the given cut-off date. The hotel usually requires that you be responsible for 80 – 90% of the blocked guest rooms at the special negotiated rate plus applicable taxes. It is best to avoid this option unless you are doing a destination wedding where you know that everyone will be staying onsite or if you are planning to pay for a large portion of the rooms.
5) Ask questions
When speaking to hotel sales representatives be sure to ask the following questions.
- Can you add more rooms if all rooms pickup before the cut-off date?
- Do they offer an airport shuttle or a shuttle to take guests to the wedding venue?
- How late is the bar open? In case guests want to keep the party going after the reception.
- Do they offer complimentary breakfast?
- Do they charge a fee for handing out welcome bags or wedding itineraries to your guests?
- Do they have a hospitality suite that you can reserve? If so can you bring in your own food or do you have to purchase through the hotel?
- Do they have parking fees?
6) Negotiate concessions
Once you have narrowed it down to your favorite hotels feel free to negotiate perks with your hotel sales managers. Hotels are often willing to give in a little more on concessions if you are having your reception there or planning to host a post wedding brunch, rehearsal dinner, or welcome reception at the hotel. Here are some examples of concessions to ask for:
- Complimentary room for bride and groom.
- 1 complimentary room night per 20 booked room nights.
- Adding your names or pictures in the lobby welcoming your wedding guests.
- Complimentary internet for your guests.
- Complimentary shuttle for your guests.
- Complimentary or reduced fee for handing out welcome bags.
7) Select a Home Hotel
Chose one hotel to be your home base. This is the hotel that you want to encourage close family and wedding party to stay at. This will make your life easier when it comes to coordinating logistics and getting everyone where they need to be on time. If you decide to do a welcome reception or a post wedding brunch then this would be the hotel you would do it at.
8) Contracting room blocks
When contracting your room blocks it is important to verify with the hotel if they will honor the special guest room rate for pre and post wedding dates. A lot of times guests decide to make the weekend an extended vacation. If they do not honor the rate 3 days pre and 3 days post then ask if they can hold a few courtesy rooms at the negotiated rate a few days’ pre and post. Also, verify that they are holding a mixture of king and double rooms for your guests. Once you review and sign off on the contract make sure to obtain your group reservation call in code or group booking link from the hotel so that you can start making reservations.
9) Inform your guests
It is extremely important to get your hotel information out to your guests as soon as possible. You can use your wedding website or save the date to inform guests about room accommodations and the cut-off dates. Be sure to include your group code or reservation booking link on the materials you send out to your guests.
10) Follow up with your hotels
Periodically check in with your hotels to see how your rooms are picking up. If rooms are picking up quickly ask if they can add more to your block. Hotels do not automatically add more rooms to your block just because your block is full and it is before the cut-off date. Request a rooming list so that you can see who all has booked their rooms in case you need to bug the Best Man who is waiting until the last minute.
The week before your wedding touch base with all of your hotels regarding your itinerary and transportation information. It is important that they are just as much in the know as your guests to help insure a seamless and fun weekend.