Reserving a block of hotel rooms in a hotel for all your weddings guests is a nice courtesy. Out-of-town guest will appreciate not having to research and book their own hotel in a town they are unfamiliar with, plus, if everyone is in the same hotel, it makes pre-and post-wedding get-togethers easier- family that hasn't seen each other in a while can meet for breakfast or dinner, or at the pool.
A wedding ends up being like a family reunion, after all, and having everyone in one hotel means family can make the most of their visit together.
You may be confused or intimidated with how reserving a hotel room block works, so I've put together this post and a FAQ outlining the basics. Remember that every hotel is different, and can have different stipulations in their contracts. Make sure to ask your specific hotel about anything you are unsure of, and get a contract in writing when you are ready to reserve.
This post should get you started with what to know and what to ask.
How it generally works:
Most hotels will reserve a max number of rooms for your guests until 30 days (or so) before the wedding. If the rooms are not claimed by guests before this cut-off date, the hotel will release the rooms to the public. Reserving rooms for guests this way can lock in a lower rate for guest as most hotels will give a group discount when a certain number of rooms are blocked at one hotel.
Some hotels will even give a free room to the bride and groom if a certain number of rooms are booked by guests. You may also get other perks or freebies since you are bringing so much business to the hotel.
There are two types of room blocks: a traditional room block, and a courtesy room block. The courtesy room block is what you want, because it requires no money up front, and you are not responsible for paying for any of the rooms. No skin off your pretty little nose, in other words.
Reserving a Hotel Room Block FAQ:
Do I have to pay for all the rooms I reserve, even if they don't get booked with guests?
This is the most frequently asked question, and the answer depends on whether or not you have a regular room block, or a courtesy room block. Every hotel is different. The courtesy room block will not make you pay to hold any of the rooms in your block, nor pay for unused rooms. A regular room block will probably require a deposit to hold the rooms, and include an attrition clause that makes you pay for unbooked rooms.
There are enough hotels out there with better options that you should be able to turn down an expensive option for one that doesn't cost you a dime.
What is an attrition clause?
An attrition clause is included in some room block contracts. It states that you are financially responsible for a percentage of the rooms that you reserve. For example, if you block 20 rooms, and you have a 75% attrition clause, you must pay for 75% of the rooms (which is 15 of the 20 you blocked), whether they are used by your guests or not. So, if your guests only end up reserving 12 rooms, you will still have to pay for the other 3.
How many rooms should I reserve?
A quick way to estimate the number of rooms is to count how many guests are coming from out of town, and then reserve half that many rooms. So, if you have 50 guests coming from out of town, reserve 25 rooms.
If the room block is a courtesy room block, and you don't have to pay anything for rooms that don't book, you can reserve a couple more just to be safe. And make sure that you can add more rooms to your block if you need to, once guests start to RSVP.
If your room block contract has an attrition clause, be more conservative in the number of rooms you book, but again, make sure you can add more rooms if you need to.
When should I get my room block reserved?
ASAP!! Like, the day you get engaged. Ok, maybe more like the day you set your wedding date. What I'm trying to say is: the sooner the better. You have a better chance of getting the number of rooms you need, at a lower rate the further out in advance you reserve.
Is it better to get a hotel closer to the venue, or closer to other attractions?
Many wedding venues may not be situated close to other fun things, like a city's downtown, restaurants, shops, or other attractions that guests might want to visit while in town.
You may be wondering if it's easier to book a hotel close to the venue, or closer to the other fun things that could keep guest occupied. It's our opinion that it's best to book close to the venue. The main reason guests are coming into town is for your wedding, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to make it to your wedding conveniently, and on time. Plus, your hotel may offer a (free) shuttle to and from the venue, if it's close enough.
If guests don't want to stay in the hotel you chose, or want to do other activities after/before the wedding, that's their choice, but you did your due diligence by reserving a convenient hotel block for them.
Does a 'room block' mean all rooms are next to each other?
Not necessarily! Many people imagine all the reserved rooms next to each other in one big 'block'. Makes sense, right? But this isn't necessarily the case. A "block" simply means they'll keep rooms open for your guests' reservations until a certain date. If it's important to you that the rooms are all next to each other, make sure to ask the hotel if this can be done before signing a contract.
What kind of perks/freebies can I get by reserving a hotel room block?
Since you are promising your business to one hotel, you often get extras included in the deal. Some of the perks that may be included with a room block are:
- Free shuttle to and from the venue. Or, if not free, for a nominal fee that is much cheaper than a shuttle service or cab fare.
- Free hotel room or room upgrade for the Bride and Groom. If a certain number of rooms end up booked, you may get a free room for your and your new spouse, or maybe a free upgrade to a sweeter suite. Also, it never hurts to ask about free rooms or upgrades for the bride/grooms parents either, especially if you have a large number of out-of-town guests.
- Free Breakfast
- Free private room for a farewell breakfast after the wedding- the hotel may have a meeting room that they will let all your guests use for breakfast the next day. This is a great way for everyone to continue to visit, hydrate their hangovers, and you can say goodbye to everyone in one location before heading off to your honeymoon.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Names on the Marquee: The hotel may have a sign or marquee and you could get your names on front: "Welcome Smith Family" or "Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Smith"
- After-party location. If the hotel has a bar, they may be willing to keep it open later than usual for your guests. If your venue closes early, and you think you may have guests that are still rocking-and-rolling, talk to the hotel to see if this is an option for your rowdy crowd
- Welcome bags for guests. Some hotels may provide these for you, or may hand out ones that you provide as guests arrive.
How do I let guests know about the hotel room block?
You can let guest know about the room block several ways:
- In the Save-the-Date: If you have a room block reserved at this point, good for you! Start letting guests know now, because the more you tell them, the likelier they are to reserve their room in advance.
- In the Invitation: Include a card or insert in the invitations with the hotel information.
- In the wedding website: Let guests know about the room block on your website
- A reminder email a week before the cut-off date: A week (or two) before the cut-off date, send out an email to guests who haven't reserved thier room, gently reminding them to get it now before they lose thier group rate discount!
- Word-of-mouth: get someone to make a phone call and let guests know to make sure to reserve their rooms before the cut-off.
What about early check in?
Early check in is something that can be extremely convenient for your guests, but is often overlooked. Many guest may plan on arriving in town on the day of the wedding, check in to the hotel, get ready, and then go to the ceremony. However, many hotels don't offer check-in until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, which means guests have nowhere to get ready!
Ask the hotel if they can offer an earlier check in time, so guests can have plenty of time to arrive, and get ready in their rooms before leaving for the venue. And then be sure to let guests know when they can check into the rooms to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Ready to reserve some rooms? Here are some questions to ask when calling around or touring hotels for your room block. You can even click here to download a printable of the questions to take with you!
- Do you offer courtesy room blocks? OR
- Is there a deposit required to reserve a room block?
- Is this deposit refundable?
- What is your attrition clause, and can you remove this?
- Is there a penalty if I cancel the whole room block?
- What is the cancellation policy for guests?
- What responsibility do the bride and groom have in the contract? (should be none).
- Can you add more rooms if I fill up my block at the same discount?
- Can guests extend their stay at the discounted rate if they want to stay for more than one night?
- Is parking included in the room rate? If not, how much is parking? Is this negotiable?
- Do you have a minimum/maximum number of rooms I am required to reserve? Can this number be adjusted later?
- What is the cut-off date for guests to reserve a room?
- If one of my guests calls to reserve a room after the cut-off date, do they get a regular rate or will they still get the discount?
- How am I notified who has reserved a room?
- Can you block all guest's rooms next to each other?
- Do you have an online code I can give my guests to receive the group rate, or do they need to call the hotel directly?
- Do the bride and groom get a complimentary room?
- Can you offer early check in for my guests?
- What amenities are included?
- Do you offer a free shuttle to and from the venue?
- Do you offer free breakfast, wi-fi, (insert perk you are interested in here)?
- Does the hotel have a bar/lounge? If so, what time does it close?
- Does the hotel have a restaurant?
- Do you provide transportation to and from the airport?
Add any other questions or concerns you may have to this list, and don't forget to read every part of your contract. Don't be afraid to ask for things you want, and to ask if things you don't like can be removed.
Are you reserving a hotel room block for your wedding guests? Do you still have questions regarding the process? Leave your question in the comments and we will answer as soon as possible!