Post # 1
Hi Bees, I need some advice. I’m trying to set up a room block at a hotel for our wedding and am struggling weighing the pros and cons. There are three hotels that we’re considering downtown (cheapest of the acceptable quality hotels!). There’s literally only one family that lives close to our wedding so we’re expecting to need at least 30 rooms and I think many guests will end up staying two nights as probably 40% are out of state. We’re also right downtown and in the summer so many of the hotels are really expensive IMO but we have a lot of families who are coming with kids (some that automatically have to get 2 hotel rooms for all the kids!) so it’s really important to me to keep it as affordable as possible.
Hotel A offers us $120/night w/ free hot breakfast and $10 parking but we went to visit and were not overly impressed. FI and I both agreed that it was just ‘Okay’ and probably the lowest quality hotel we’d be comfortable staying in.
Hotel B offers us $120/night w/ no breakfast and $24 parking. The hotel is super nice, clean, modern but they will also only let us have 15 rooms for the discounted price so we will definitely have to do 2 blocks in that case.
Hotel C is $140/night w/ free hot breakfast and $13 parking and is also very clean/nice. This is also the only hotel that has a pool for the kids who are coming (I’ve already been asked by a 5 year old guest if there will be a pool lol!).
The other option would be to pick one of these three hotels for those with a higher budget and then choose another hotel outside of town (probably 20 min drive) which would be much cheaper for a lower budget- one I’ve looked at would be ~$90/night.
But the complication to this is that we wanted to have a mini-coach shuttle bus for our guests as many are drinkers and I don’t want to chance any drinking and driving. So if the shuttle bus has to go to the downtown hotels (5 min drive) and then to the cheap hotel out of town and then back, the shuttle bus loop might take up to an hour which doesn’t seem very effective.
Post # 3
I’d go with B in all honesty. #1 if you think you need 30 rooms, you’re really only going to need 20 or something like that. You will have people who can’t make it, even if right now you’re dead positive they will be coming, and people who select their own accomodations regardless of where your block is. B sounds like the best balance of nice hotel and good price. I would also send the invites relatively early, so that as your block fills up, you have a better chance of the hotel agreeing to extend the block at the discounted price. The hotel will almost always do that if they are not sold out. Chances are you’ll end up with 22 rooms or so if you can get those first 15 filled quickly. Just make sure there is no convention or other special event in town.
Don’t worry about the hotel out in the suburbs– tell your guests that this is where the shuttle bus will pick up and drop off, period. if someone wishes to stay elsewhere, they can catch a ride from the hotel or drive themselves. Don’t over-complicate things. You could end up with one guy staying in the arse end of nowhere, and paying an extra 2 hours bus rental just for him!
Also make it clear to the guests that #1 once they book, they should not change their minds because if the block fills up, that takes the room away from somewhere else and it’s not fair on the other guests if they want to back out at the last minute, and #2 the early bird gets the worm. You really don’t want them dragging their feet, but if they do, then that more expensive room rate is on their shoulders.
If you want to be super detail-oriented you can always book 2-3 refundable/not prepaid rooms at today’s going rate, and hold them in reserve as insurance; if your block fills up and the rate goes up to $200+/night, change the name to that of your late-booking guest, and if no one needs the room, then just cancel the reservation. But that might turn out into just making extra work for yourself!
Also before deciding, I’d have a look at which hotel has the most comfortable bar or the best bar prices, as many of your guests will end up in the bar every night; and see if any of the hotels offer “kids eat free” at their restaurants (assuming they have a restaurant). Letting folks know that their kids get free dinner often helps take the sting out of what they consider to be an expensive hotel room.
Post # 4
Oh dear…I literally LIVED this exact scenario when planning my wedding. Honestly, to save yourself a lot of stress down the road, I recommend you select whichever hotel can offer you the biggest room block so that all of your guests are being shuttled to and from one hotel. Its going to make your life a lot easier.
Also – when guests are booking a hotel for a wedding, I found that they really didn’t care what hotel they were in (keep in mind that if it’s a one-night event (rather than a weekend trip), they will barely be in the hotel at all since they’ll be at your wedding. Trust me, these are all things I stressed about so much and ended up not really being an issue on the wedding day.
Good luck with your planning. Hope you can figure it out!
Post # 5
Thanks for your advice! I think I’d be crazy by now without the Bees!
Post # 6
Having stayed at almost all the hotels in downtown Milwaukee, don’t let the parking cost guide you. We almost always park on the street overnight and use the city’s parking website for our “free pass”. I’d go with B, especially if it is the hotel I’m thinking of!
Post # 7
@OldMrsMcDonald: What “free pass” are you talking about? I don’t think I know this secret!
Post # 8
I’d go with C. With the price of parking included, there is only a $10 difference between them. With C, you get a better hotel and the option for a larger room block. If people want a cheaper option, it doesn’t take much effort to search for hotels.
Post # 9
You can get permission from the city to park on the street overnight. If I recall correctly, Saturday nights are exempt and you don’t even need to apply. Here’s the site with information.
It has saved us a bunch of money– we’ve stayed at the Hilton, Hyatt, Hampton Inn and Aloft downtown. We’ve also stayed at 2 places out by the airport.
Post # 10
We have a very similar situation. We had even more people though, so this is what we are doing:
we reserved a block of rooms at a cheap out of town hotel. Those people will have to drive to the venue.
We reserved a large block of rooms at the nicest hotel downtown and reserved rooms for the wedding party and immediate family there
We reserved a block of rooms at an additional hotel downtown because the first didn’t have enough rooms.
People at the downtown hotels will have a shuttle.
I’d reccomend you reserve rooms at B and C. That way people can choose the price/pool option the prefer. You can always have the shuttle stop at both downtown hotels. I’d skip the out of town one. People are always free to reserve elsewhere, you just won’t have a block at that hotel.
Post # 11
Of your options, C sounds best to me. The pool is a great addition. Personally, I’d want the hotel 20 minutes outside town for ~$40 a night cheaper, but I am cheap, and don’t drink 😛