Post # 1
So, I am planning a wedding in a spot that is a rather popular travel destination over the summer. Hotels are already filling up fast for the weekend of the wedding and it is not until June 1st, 2013! So, I am moving very quickly on getting a hotel block, but I am unsure of how to go about figuring how many rooms of what type I will need.
Basically, I made a spreadsheet of the guests I anticipate inviting and tried to guess who would book rooms together (e.g., family units) if they came. This isn’t precise because there are a number of relatives on my fiance’s side who would possibly maybe attend, but I don’t know who they are because his dad is a jerk (this is another thread entirely, but I digress).
I read online about two types of blocks, one where you actually have the rooms reserved until a set date before your wedding, and another where you get the group rate but the rooms aren’t actually reserved. I am really concerned about being off on my estimates because I cannot afford to pay the difference if a lot of people I expect to don’t end up utiltizing the blocks.
In your experience, what percentage of rooms do hotels generally require to be booked before you pay a penalty? Can you negotiate the number of rooms in the interim if you discover that not as many guests will be coming/using hotels as you had projected?
Also, is there a good way to communicate to guests prior to formal invitations that they should consider booking their hotels ahead of time? I want to provide the group rate but I understand that certain guests may have other hotel preferences that I may not be accommodating for.
I guess the TL;DR version of this thread is: Hotel blocks – what do?
Post # 3
I work in a hotel and when we do group blocks, you get a certain percentage off depending on how many rooms you want to block off. So if you block off 15, you may get a rate of 10% off (I’m not sure of the exacts). So your guests can call and block those rooms for the special group rate up until two weeks before the date. When you reach that two week marker, whatever rooms you haven’t reserved (so let’s say your guests have reserved all but 5 rooms out of the original 15) go back into system and now we show 5 more rooms as available for whoever in the world wants to book them. We don’t penalize you for guests not reserving all the rooms, because we’re not losing out on business since we give ourselves a two week window to fill those spaces. If your guests decide to book their rooms 5 days before the date, being that the block no longer is open, they must pay full regular rates.
Now, that’s just how the hotel I’m at does things. All hotels are different and I would check with whatever hotels you’re looking at and ask to speak to their sales rep. about those questions – that’s the only way to know for sure 🙂
As for sending out info, I’m putting that on my Save the Dates. If you’re not doing that, you could send out little business cards to out of town guests notifying them of the hotels and their respective rates and whatever group code the hotel assigns you.
Post # 4
My understanding is some hotels ask for some kind of payment guarantee for the rooms in case they aren’t booked but I don’t think that’s common because I don’t think most people would be willing to take the risk. The two hotels where I got blocks will release the rooms a month before the wedding but there’s no penalty if the rooms aren’t all booked at that point. I set up the hotel blocks after sending save the dates and before sending invitations. After I set up the blocks I sent the information to people on Facebook (in a private message). I also have an insert in my invitations with a link to a website with hotel information and other details.
If I were you I would definitely try to block off rooms rather than just arranging for a discount since rooms are already filling up. One of my main wedding fears has been that guests won’t be able to get hotels.
Can you negotiate the number of rooms in the interim if you discover that not as many guests will be coming/using hotels as you had projected?
If you get the type of room block where the rooms will be held until x date and then released, this shouldn’t matter. One of my two hotels did say that if my group didn’t book a certain percentage of the rooms (maybe 80%) the hotel did not have to honor the group discount, but I was told that in practice that doesn’t really happen. And again, that’s not the same as charging you for unbooked rooms. I would never have set up a room block where I risked having to pay for unbooked rooms.
Post # 5
We gave an estimate of PAX number to the hotel. We explained that we are unaware of how many rooms, or room types exactly, but expect so and so number of people. Hotel was aware of numbers, and as I heard back from guests, I immediately reserved with the hotel. We both kept a list and communicated regularly. One month before arrival of the first guests we had the majority of reservations, then with any extras we just called up and added. One week before arrival, we paid 30% deposit, another 30% on arrival of my parents and then the rest, guests paid directly to hotel on check-out. Things are different in Greece though, so I don’t know if this system would work in the US.
Ask for a release date and a breakdown of penalty charges. For high season this would usually be 14 days, if you cancel any rooms between 14 days and 7 days prior to arrival, you will probably be charged 50%, maybe more, after this date, the full amount would be expected. All hotels are different though!
Post # 6
@Vidya: +1 for putting it on the Save the Dates.
We have half our guests coming from out of town, so I put a note on our save the dates indicating the name of the hotel and the website, and to call us if they had any questions.
Post # 7
Most hotels will let you cancel blocks 30 days ahead. We put our wedding website on our save the dates so people could log on and see the accomodations. I put a little note, our area fills up quickly- please book as you can! I also emailed groups of aunts, etc. 🙂
Post # 8
I told people about the hotel block as soon as we set it up. And they filled up pretty quickly.
Post # 9
Thanks for the tips guys! I think between this thread and Google I have this more or less sorted out. 🙂
Now I’m just crossing my fingers and waiting to hear back from the Comfort Inn… Unfortunately the other few hotels that still have openings are either expensive, don’t reserve the rooms, or have gross reviews online. I will definitely be using word of mouth to encourage guests to book hotels as soon as they are confidently able to. My brother and his wife have booked theirs already, and I will probably follow suit for myself and the bridal party shortly. 🙂
Post # 10
As a general rule, 80% is the attrition rate that most hotels have when they block hotel rooms. But you really should try not be get bound with any contracts that require a penalty. There are so many hotels that offer courtesy room blocks whoich require no deposit.
All you have to do is block 10 rooms to start with and add as more reservations come in. Have guests book ahead of time with STD’s, emails, reminders, etc. Here is more on courtesy room blocks: http://grouptravel.org/wedding/what-is-a-courtesy-room-block-do-i-need-one-for-wedding-guests/