Hotel room blocks are fantastic when you want as many people as possible in one place for logistical or transportation reasons, if you hope your guests stay near the wedding, if you believe that hotels in the city or town could book up, or if you want to offer extra touch of guidance to your guests. Hotel blocks are pretty straightforward yet sometimes time-consuming so this task is the perfect job to delegate to anyone who has been asking for a way to help you.
So what do you need to know about hotel room blocks? Turns out there are a number of things that need to be covered. But if you only read one thing make sure it is about the different contract terms and the hairy attrition rates. The last thing you want to deal with is being stuck with paying out of pocket for hotel rooms that your guests didn’t book.
1. When To Reserve
Whatever you do don’t leave this task for the last minute. Once you book your venue it is time to start researching hotel options for your guests. This is especially true if you are having your wedding in a small town with limited accommodation options, you are getting married on a holiday weekend or if it is concurrent with a special event.
2. Choosing Properties
If you are getting married in a city where there are many options you may have a more difficult task narrowing the hotel options. Here are some key points to consider:
You should have two or three options in price (i.e., budget, midrange, luxury). Make sure that the price points vary by at least fifty dollars from one category to the next.
Try to book a hotel that is near your wedding events. Hotels within walking distance are the best option. Otherwise, your hotels should ideally be within a few kilometers of your wedding venue. Also, choosing hotels near other attractions and restaurants will give people who arrive before the wedding (or in between the ceremony and reception) have something to do.
- Check-In Time
Many of your guests will only stay the night of your wedding. It’s important to make sure that the check-in time does not conflict with your ceremony start time and leaves plenty of time to freshen up after checking in! Guests who are arriving on the wedding day will need time to check-in and get ready. If you’re planning a 2PM ceremony and check-in time is 3PM, well, some of your guests are going to be annoyed because they had to get dressed in a lobby bathroom. Not fun.
3. Questions To Ask During Your Initial Contact
- What is the group rate including taxes and fees?
- Is there a fee for parking? Does the parking fee include in/out privileges?
- What time is check-in? Could you guarantee early check-in if needed?
- What time is check-out?
- Is there a minimum stay requirement?
- Do you offer a courtesy block? What is the maximum number of rooms?
- If we need additional rooms, can we add to the block? What would the cut-off be for adding rooms?
- What sort of amenities come standard (shuttles, breakfast, free in-room Wi-Fi, etc.)?
- Is there a bar and restaurant onsite? What are the hours?
- Do you have facilities to host pre- or post-wedding events onsite?
4. Options And Amenities
Make sure to arrange for a variety of room types to suit your guests—families and friends sharing rooms will likely want doubles and couples will likely opt for king or queen rooms. Take a look at your guest list and split the block accordingly.
Also, ask the hotel to set aside rooms on different floors—you probably don’t want to spend your wedding night next door to your parents, and you definitely don’t want your friends waking up your grandma with their in-room after-party.
Many hotels are happy to provide extras to wedding blocks that they don’t normally offer to other groups. You just have to ask! The key here—knowing what you want to ask for in advance! Here are a few of the most common perks:
- Shuttle Service
The hotel may have an in-house shuttle that you can take advantage of to transport guests to and from your wedding. This is usually subject to a max distance radius from the hotel. Some hotels do charge a nominal fee for this service, but you can be certain that it will be less than hiring a third-party.
- Free Rooms
If you’re booking a large number of rooms at one property you may be able to get a free room or room upgrade.
- Welcome-Bag Delivery
If you chose to have welcome bags, you can ask the hotel to hand them out at check-in or deliver them directly to the rooms. Please note that most hotels charge a fee of anywhere from two to four dollars per bag, which can add up quickly! Ask them to waive the fee before you sign the agreement.
If your hotel offers free breakfast, they may be willing to provide you with a private space for post-wedding brunch. Some hotels can open a meeting room for guests to hang out in while they enjoy breakfast.
6. Contract Terms
Once you’ve found a room-block option that works for your wedding, you’ll most likely need to sign a contract to finalize the booking. There are certain key words you want to understand and carefully review before signing on the dotted line. Here’s what to look out for:
- Allowable Shrinkage Clause
This number refers to the percentage of rooms that are allowed to go unbooked.
Target Percentage: Between 10–20 percent. Meaning, if you booked 20 rooms but 2–4 go unbooked, you will not be penalized with a fee.
- Attrition Rate Or Minimum Commitment
This number refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying a penalty fee.
Target Percentage: Between 80–90 percent. Example: If the entire room block is not used, you’ll owe the hotel damages for all unused rooms based on a minimum commitment of 80 percent. This means that if you do not book the minimum amount of rooms agreed to, you will owe for up to 80 percent of the room block. Ekk!
- Mitigation Clause Or Re-Sell Clause
The hotel must try to book unused rooms in your block so that you are no longer responsible for them if they are later sold to other customers.
7. Getting The Word Out
The best way to communicate your hotel block to your guests is to include it on your wedding website, on your save the date, or as an insert with your invitation. That way, your guests will be well informed and can easily learn more information about the accommodation options available.
What other considerations when booking a hotel room block should we consider? Let us know in the comments section below!
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