Well, our hotel room blocks are finally set! Hallelujah. Doing room blocks is one of those wedding activities that’s really not too fun. It’s usually a lot of leg work and more a pain in the butt than anything. When I started thinking about room blocks, I couldn’t find much of anything on the Internet or in my wedding planning book about how to go about setting up blocks—what questions to ask, where to look, who to call, etc. In hopes of making it easier for future brides looking for that same information, here are my best tips for setting up your hotel room blocks.
Tip Numero Uno: Think about your guests first. We decided to do TWO room blocks, which exponentially increased the workload for me, but we wanted to offer our guests two different price options and two different locations. Instead of just creating a block at the pricier hotel we’ll be staying at, we opted to create an additional block at another local hotel that is just as nice, but would be a bit cheaper in price. Each hotel has its own merits and guests can decide where to stay based on a variety of factors, including price and location. Which leads me to
Tip Numero Dos: Location, location, location. Not only do our two room blocks have different prices, but they are in different locations that each have their own benefits. The hotel we’ll be staying at is closer to the church (within walking distance), which works out great for us because of the timeframe for pictures, etc. The second hotel is closer to the reception venue (within walking distance), which is nice for guests who want to have a little extra to drink—they won’t have to worry about driving to and from the reception. Even though the two hotels are in different locations, they are both within close distance of each other.
Think heavily about your locations before booking your room blocks. If you’re lucky like us and everything is close, you won’t have to think too much about this. If your guests are going to be traveling a bit to get to the reception venue, obviously you probably aren’t going to want to do a room block at a hotel close to the church.
Tip Numero Tres: Ask the right questions. There are some fundamental truths about hotel room blocks. The most important of these is that you should NEVER have to pay for any rooms in the block that aren’t booked. If a hotel tells you this is a requirement, RUN FOR THE HILLS! With that being said, it’s important to ask the right questions when gathering information about hotel room blocks. Here is a quick sampling of the key questions you should ask:
* What will happen if we don’t fill the block? Will we be charged? (As I said before, if you will be charged, RUN.)
* What does the room rate include? Sometimes continental breakfast, late check-out and other extras are included!
* Can you block our guests near each other? Usually, hotels will try to do this.
* What will the rates be? What is the cut-off date? How will our guests make their reservations (via phone? using online codes?)? Something surprising that I never knew before: Nowadays, in the Internet age, hotels will often offer personalized websites or special links for you to include on your own website so that guests can make their reservations right online. Pretty cool!
* Can we provide our guests with Out-of-Town bags? Is there a fee to have them delivered to guest rooms? Do you charge if we have them handed out at the front desk? (Some hotels charge a per bag fee.)
* Can we add more rooms to the block if necessary? In my experience, hotels generally block off only a certain number of rooms, say 10 to 15, or in some cases 20. If you are expecting a lot of out-of-town guests, as we are, it’s important to make sure rooms will still be available to them if the block fills quickly.
* Do you provide shuttle services to local airports and locations? Can we work with you to provide shuttle services for our guests? A lot of times, hotels are glad to help you out with transportation to and from your reception venue, especially if it’s close by!
* Do you include a complimentary room for the bride and groom? It never hurts to ask, and a lot of times, they do!
Tip Numero Cuatro: Be sure to read the contract! Generally, hotels will have you sign some sort of room block agreement, which is basically the way in which they secure the rates, inform you of the cut-off date, and other important information. Usually these contracts are pretty short, but as with any contract, make sure you read all of the fine print.
So there you have it—my top tips for securing room blocks. I am glad to have this done and out of the way. Next task for me is transportation…and meeting with some florists!
How was your room block experience? Share some more tips in the comments!