One of the biggest questions I get when working with clients is “when and how should we book our hotel blocks for our out of town guest?” This is such a valid question because truthfully, outside of planning a wedding, most people will never have to book a hotel block so there are a lot of unknowns. But never fear, I’m here to fill you in on the ins and outs of booking your hotel block/blocks! Let’s dive in!
When Do I Book my Hotel Blocks?
When to book your hotel blocks is really dependent upon a few factors, but as a rule of thumb, I would suggest booking your hotel blocks 9-12 months out from your wedding.
I would lean more towards the 12 month mark if….
If you are A. Hosting a destination wedding, B. Most of your guests will be traveling in from afar, C. You know there are other events going on during your wedding weekend that will cause hotels to book up quicker than normal or D. All of the above, If any of these are the case, I would suggest booking your hotel blocks as soon as you lock in your wedding date. This will ensure that you will get a spot at the hotel(s) of your choice and that your guests will have plenty of time to book if they are having to make travel arrangements.
You can lean more towards the 9 month mark if….
If you are hosting a local wedding and know only a few of your guests will be traveling in from out of town. If this is the situation, you have a little more leeway in your timeframe for booking your hotel blocks because you won’t need as many rooms/your guests won’t be making arrangements super far in advance.
How Many Hotel Blocks should I Plan to Book?
The most important question to ask yourself when figuring out how many hotel blocks to book is : “How many of my guests will actually need a hotel room?”
The first step in figuring this out is to take a look at your guest list. Go through and mark all of your out-of-town guests. Then, group them into families/guests who will room together. This doesn’t have to be exact, you are just trying to get a ballpark figure of how many rooms you MIGHT need.
Once you mark your out-of-town guests and group them into rooms, you’ll have a round-about number of rooms needed.
Now, keep in mind that most hotels will only reserve approximately 10-30 rooms per block.
If you know that you’ll need more than 10-30 rooms, you know you’ll need more than one hotel block.
I usually suggest booking 2-4 hotel blocks based on need.
Where Should I Book my Hotel Blocks?
Once you decide how many rooms you’ll need, now it’s time to pick your hotels. This is fun in my opinion!
The first thing you’ll do when looking for hotel locations is Google all the hotels in close proximity to your venue. I would try to make a list of all hotels that are within 10-20 minutes from your venue – 30 at the furthest.
Once you have a list of the hotels 10-30 minutes from your venue, I would start looking at reviews. You do not want to put your guests up in a roach motel on accident!
Now that you’ve eliminated some hotels based on reviews, make your short list of hotels you’d like to contact.
Some hotels have inquiry forms you’ll fill out online and some will require you to just give them a call. If you’re giving them a call, make sure and ask for the Sales Team to help you arrange the block.
Here are some great questions to ask the sales representative during your chat:
- What is the maximum number of rooms we can block?
- What type of rooms are included in the block? (King, 2 queens, etc.)
- Are there any other events going on at the hotel during our wedding weekend?
- What attractions/restaurants are close to this hotel?
- What is the discounted group rate per room for this block?
- Is this a complimentary block or is there a booking fee/ fill fee? *Some hotels will require financial compensation if 80% of the block is not filled*
- What would be the booking deadline for our guests?
- Do you offer a shuttle service to and from our venue or to other spots downtown?
- Is breakfast included in the room rental for our guests?
- Is there a rooftop or regular bar/restaurant available for our guests to meet for drinks?
- Is there a honeymoon suite available?
- Are there suites available for the wedding party to get ready in? (If needed)
- What is your booking process?
Once you’ve contacted all of the hotels on your short list and asked your questions, you can compare your options and decide which ones to go with!
If you need to book more than one hotel block, I always suggest booking a lower to mid-level price point option and a higher price-point option. That way anyone who wants to splurge can, and anyone who needs to save on accommodations has that option.
It also couldn’t hurt to go visit the hotel(s) you choose before signing on the dotted line. That way you can see the accommodations in person!
How Do I Book My Hotel Block?
Now that you know which hotel(s) you would like to book, it’s time to finalize the block.
Most hotels will send you a contract after your initial inquiry/inquiry call with all relevant information included.
When you receive that contract, make sure the following points are included:
- Number of hotel rooms included in the block
- The type of hotel rooms included in the block
- Discounted rate for your guests
- The discount code your guests will use when booking
- A link to book with the discount code you can include on your wedding website
- The booking deadline for your guests
- Any financial obligations you are responsible for
- Any amenities included in the block
Once you have confirmed these points, it’s time to sign the contract and make things official!
Note that you do usually have to put a credit card on file to lock things in, but most of the time you won’t be charged unless your hotel has a financial obligation to fill a percentage of the block and it is not met by the booking deadline.
How Do I Let My Guests Know about our Hotel Block?
Now that your block(s) are set in stone, it’s time to communicate the hotel block options to your guests.
I have found that it is best to communicate the hotel block info more than once and in more than one way – for some reason it is a detail that guests easily skip over!
I suggest communicating your hotel blocks by:
- Adding an Accommodations Tab/Section to your wedding website and adding direct links to your group code/booking page. That way, all your guests will have to do is click “book now” on your wedding website and it will take them straight there! I would also include some information about the hotel, distance from the venue, the Group Discount Code and the Booking Deadline at the top of the page/for each hotel listed. You can see an example here: https://www.theknot.com/us/sammy-seay-and-alex-kesner-nov-2017/details#accommodations
- Including a note or insert in your Save-the-Dates. You can do this by actually stating the hotel information, group code, and booking deadline on your save-the-date, or by saying “please visit our wedding website for hotel accommodations.” *note that if you go this route you will need to include instructions on how to access your wedding website* Or, if there isn’t room on your actual save-the-date, create an insert that states the hotel information, address, group code, and booking deadline.
- Send the booking links via email. Having your wedding guests’ email addresses is golden and makes darn sure they have access to important info like your hotel blocks. I would send an initial email with the booking links, then send a reminder email a couple of weeks before the booking deadline. This will eliminate folks forgetting to book then missing the deadline!
Other Fun Hotel Block Things
It’s so great knowing that the majority of your guests are all in the same place(s)! It makes you feel a little more secure about where everyone is, how far they have to travel to the venue, etc. It also makes adding personalizations such as giving out welcome bags, shuttle schedules, and other pertinent information easier. If you are giving out welcome bags or need to distribute shuttle information, simply give the hotel(s) a call ahead of time and confirm that they are willing to hand out the bags/info as guests check in. Then, drop the supplies off beforehand!
So that’s a wrap on Hotel Blocks 101! If you have any questions or need any help, don’t hesitate to reach out! Also, don’t forget that if you’ve hired a wedding planner, she/he will take care of all of this for you!
Happy Wedding Planning!
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