If you’ve ever gone to an out-of-town wedding, you may have stayed in a hotel where the couple arranged a room block for their guests. Now you’re getting married, and you want to set up a hotel room block too. But how?? I’ll tell you!
Setting up a hotel room block is not that difficult, but if you’ve never done it before, there are some tips and tricks you should know, and some terminology that will be foreign to you. If you’ve hired a full-service wedding planner, they’ll probably handle this task for you (I do, for my full planning clients). But if you’re on your own, follow these steps.
TL;DR here’s the video
Step 1 – Find one or two local hotels
You’ll want to choose hotels that are reasonably close to your wedding venue. It makes transportation easier, whether you’re arranging group transportation or letting guests drive themselves to and from the wedding.
If you have rewards status with a particular hotel chain, then you probably want to set up a room block there. You may get extra perks, and you might also be able to earn points.
Choose hotels that are in the proper budgetary range for your guests. Just because you usually stay in a luxury 5-star hotel when you travel doesn’t mean all your guests will be able to.
Step 2 – Call the hotels at their local number
This is important: don’t call the toll-free 1-800 reservations number. You want to call the local number and speak to someone who is physically present at the property. Worldwide reservations agents can’t appropriately help you with setting up a hotel room block.
Step 3 – Decide on a guaranteed or courtesy block
The hotel will ask if you want to set up a guaranteed or a courtesy room block. Chances are, you want a courtesy block.
With a guaranteed room block, the hotel takes your requested number of rooms out of circulation, and you guarantee that they will be booked. If you block 20 rooms, but only 15 of them are booked by your guests, you pay for the extra 5 rooms.
With a courtesy room block, the hotel will only set aside a limited number of rooms for you (usually a maximum of 10), and then set a booking deadline. Any rooms not booked by your guests before the deadline will go back into regular circulation and can be booked by the general public.
If all 10 of your courtesy block rooms are booked before the deadline, you might be able to add additional rooms to your block, subject to availability and hotel policy. Inquire about this at the time you set up your room block.
For this reason, it can be a good idea to set up courtesy blocks at more than one hotel. This gives your guests options, but it also ensures that you will have enough rooms available for booking.
Step 4 – Choose king or queen bedded rooms
I recommend doing a mix: half the rooms with one king bed in them, and the other half with two queen beds. Again, this gives your guests more options. For people traveling with kids, or friends who want to share a room, having the option of reserving a room with two beds will be helpful.
Step 5 – Find out the discounted rate
Hotels generally offer you a discounted rate when they set up a room block for you, even for a courtesy block. But the discount may not be that significant. It’s possible that a lower rate will be available through Internet promotions or travel websites. But for your guests who are less travel-savvy, it’s nice to have the discounted room block rate available.
You also want to ask if there are any perks for you, like a complimentary night’s stay. Many hotels will give you a free room the night of your wedding if your group books a certain number of rooms.
If you don’t need a room the night of your wedding, find out if you can use the free room another time. Or maybe you want to use it the night before your wedding so that you have a room available for hair and makeup on your wedding day. Check-in time at most hotels is mid-afternoon, so if you need a spot for hair and makeup, you’ll have to reserve the room for the previous night.
Step 6 – Get the codes to share with your guests
Most hotels will give you a website link that you can post directly on your wedding website. When your guests click the link, it takes them to a special reservations portal where the discount is already applied, and the computer knows that the reservation belongs with your group.
For guests who prefer to book their hotel over the phone, you will also be given a group code (usually some combination of the couple’s last names) that they can provide to a reservations agent when calling to make their reservation.
Step 7 – Share the information
Encourage your guests to book their rooms early so that the room block doesn’t fill up. If you live in a popular destination, you’ll want to set up your room block before you send out your save-the-date cards. When guests go to your wedding website (listed on your save-the-dates), they’ll want to see travel information and start making plans.
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