Hotel room blocks might not sound like the most exciting topic – in fact, it’s probably up there with creating a budget and travel insurance – but like those things, learning the ins and outs of blocking hotel rooms for your wedding is worth the effort.
Feeling a bit clueless about blocking hotel rooms? Don’t sweat it! Many couples have gone before you and learned what to do and what not to do, and there is plenty of info and tips for you in this post to help guide you during this point in wedding planning.
So let’s get started with the basics, like what’s a hotel room block, anyway? And are hotel blocks necessary?
What is a hotel room block?
A room block is generally a reservation for 10 or more rooms and is perfect for couples having a destination wedding or inviting many out-of-town guests. Hotel blocks for weddings ensure that guests have a place to stay near your wedding activities, especially the reception, and allow everyone to stay in the same hotel.
Necessary? No, but extremely beneficial in that reserving hotel room blocks simplifies the process for you and your guests. You won’t have to worry where everyone is staying, how to set up transport, and all the other logistical concerns that go along with accommodation.
Plus, hotels often give discounts on room rates when reserved as a block, which you can then pass along to wedding guests.
Types of Hotel Blocks
The most common types of hotel blocks include Closed and Open.
- Hotel requires a deposit.
- Hotel will hold you financially responsible for any unsold rooms.
- A closed block allows for many room reservations.
- Use this option as a last resort or if you are certain you’ll be able to fill all the rooms you’ve blocked.
- Reservations must be made prior to a cut off date (usually 30-90 days in advance).
- The hotel will not hold you financially responsible for unsold rooms.
- Most hotels will only hold between 10 to 20 rooms.
- Use this option if you have a small number of out-of-town guests, are given the okay to add rooms upon completion, or plan on booking a second block at another hotel.
When and How to Reserve a Room Block
Couples usually get the best rates when they reserve rooms a year out, but you should at least block your rooms between three and eight months before the wedding. You can get a good idea of when the best time to make your reservations is by considering the time of year you’re getting married and the destination.
For example, if you’re having a weekend wedding during the high tourist season in Cabo, you’ll want to get those rooms blocked as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you’re having a winter wedding in your hometown and know that most places will be available, you can probably get away with blocking rooms six months before the big day.
Limit your options to two or three hotels, give each a call, and ask questions. Be prepared to give the venue manager:
- Your wedding date and how long you expect guests to stay
- How many rooms you want to reserve
- Special requests like transportation to/from airport and welcome bags
Essential Questions to Ask
- What is the group rate, including taxes and fees?
- What time is check-in and check-out?
- Is early check-in an option?
- Is there a minimum stay requirement?
- What is the maximum number of rooms available for a courtesy block?
- Can we add additional rooms?
- What is the cutoff for adding additional rooms?
- What are your standard amenities?
For additional help, Where Will They Stay and Hotel Planner are great tools for guiding you through the process.
How to Negotiate a Room Block Contract
Let’s say you’ve narrowed your choice down to three hotels and all three give you the same price quote. If you’re not familiar with negotiating, you may end up just picking the hotel you like most. It’s not a bad way to go about it, but keep in mind that you’re in the power position and can come out much better if you negotiate.
Tips for Negotiating Hotel Room Blocks for a Wedding
Tip 1: Read the contract carefully.
Every. Single. Word. Because although contracts are full of strange words and about as exciting as a bran flake breakfast, if you skim through one, you’re likely to fall into a pothole that’s impossible to get out of.
Tip 2: Understand the language.
Understand these commonly used legal terms found in hotel contracts and you’ll be one more step ahead.
Allowable Shrinkage Clause: The percentage of rooms allowed to go unfilled, typically between 10-20%. For example, if you book 20 rooms, but 2-4 go unbooked, you will be charged a penalty fee. This clause will most likely be seen in a contract for Closed/Guaranteed Blocks.
Attrition Rate: This refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled to avoid a penalty fee, typically between 80-90%. For example, if you book a block of rooms, but the minimum amount of rooms filled falls short of the number agreed to, you’ll owe the hotel up to 80% of the room block fee.
Mitigation/Resell Clause: The hotel must try and book unfilled rooms in your block after the cut-off date. You are not responsible for these rooms after they’ve been sold to other customers. This clause will most likely be seen in a contract for Open/Courtesy Blocks.
Tip 3: Don’t answer the budget question too soon.
When the venue or sales manager asks you what your budget is, tell them you’re not certain and that you plan on talking to a few hotels before making a decision. Remember, you’re in the power position and can use the offers you’ve received as an incentive for hotels to compete against one another. Don’t feel bad – this is business! And if they want yours bad enough, they’ll negotiate.
Hotel Block Information for Wedding Guests
Once you have your rooms blocked, it’s time to get the word out to your wedding guests. Inform them as early as possible so they have ample time to choose and pay for a room. You can include hotel block info on your save-the-dates, wedding invitations, and wedding website.
Aside from the basic hotel information, you can also inform guests on how to get to the venue, if transportation will be provided, and any contact numbers/emails that guests can reach out to should they have questions.
Sample Wedding Hotel Block Wording
Details to include:
- How to reserve (phone number/website)
- Special code for the discounted rate
- Cut-off date
We’ve reserved a block of rooms at Hotel Motel Holiday Inn at a rate of $X per night. Reserve your room by calling [hotel phone number] or visiting [hotel website]. To secure the discounted rate, book by June 1 and reference Alba/Cassidy wedding or code WedNow during checkout. For additional information, visit our wedding website, [website address].
Confirming Your Hotel Room Block Reservation
If you’ve made it this far into blocking your guests’ hotel rooms, congrats! Most of the work is done, but before you bring out the celebratory thank-goodness-that’s-finally-over champagne, you need to tie up any loose ends and confirm everything is as it should be. First, make a note on your calendar of the cut-off date, then follow this checklist:
1-2 weeks prior to cut-off date
- Ask the hotel for a copy of your room list.
- Send a reminder to any guests who haven’t booked.
2-3 weeks before the wedding
- Check up on negotiated items and make sure everything’s being taken care of.
- Finalize/confirm transport timing and details.
1-2 days before check-in
- Drop off welcome bags/letters (timeline of events, transportation instructions, local activities/restaurants, treats, etc.).
- Give the front desk staff a copy of your schedule and transport info, just in case.
There you have it! I know it might seem like a lot, but reserving hotel room blocks isn’t that difficult when you know this information. If you want to lessen your chances of receiving texts, calls, and emails wondering where and how to get to your wedding, I say go ahead and do the upfront work to reserve a block of hotel rooms. It will save you tons of time and possibly a headache or two later.
If you’re looking for a hotel in Austin, Texas to block rooms for your wedding guests, I have many I can recommend! Let’s connect!