Tips for Booking a Wedding Hotel Block
It's always a courteous gesture to reserve room blocks for your out-of-town wedding guests. They may not know the best hotels or the closest hotels to your venue. Or you may want the majority of your guests to stay at the hotel where you are staying on your special day. Keep in mind not all guests and out-of-towners will use the room blocks you provided them. A lot of your guests may be loyalty members to specific chain or will use discount bookings sites such as Expedia or Travelocity. What is a hotel block? AKA a 'wedding room block', is a selection of rooms (usually 10-15 rooms) that are put on 'hold' for your wedding guests. These rooms are often offered at a discounted rate (but it really depends on what is going on in the city that weekend!). The wedding block will usually be labeled under the Bride and Groom's last names, making it easy for guests when they make reservations. **When making reservations over the phone, it's very important that your guests say that they are here for that specific wedding so they receive the correct rate**
How do I book a hotel block?
By contacting the hotel's "Group Sales" office. Many hotels will have a specific person who deals directly with wedding room blocks. You'll provide them with the dates that you're looking to hold (normally, checking in one day before the wedding, and checking out the day after), and how many rooms you think you'll need to hold. This is all based on how many out of town guests you have. If the majority of your guests are from out of town, you may consider having several blocks at different hotels at different price points. The Group Sales will send you over a contract, and from there is like normal contract business :)
Who pays for it?
Unless you decide to pick up the tab for everyone, the guests will pay for the room themselves.
Courtesy Room Blocks: A lot of hotels in Chicago offer courtesy blocks, where they will hold these rooms for you, and if not every room gets booked before the cut-off day (explained below), they will 'put the room back on the market', without cost to the bride and groom.
Attrition: When a hotel says they can offer you "10 rooms for $198 per night, with 90% attrition" this is what they mean:
If by the end of your cut-off date,90% of the room block HAS NOT been reserved, you will be charged for the rooms that were not sold. For example, if your guests booked 7 out of 10 rooms, with 90% attrition, you would be charged for the 2 rooms that were not picked up.
How do I inform my guests about the blocks?
Send a printed "Accommodations" card with your invitations stating where the room blocks are, and that they should request "Name of Wedding Room Block" when they make reservations. A lot of hotels offer web links for you to put on your wedding website, that directs your guests to reserve within the room block.
Disecting the Contract
What is a "Cut-Off" date? This is the last date that your guests can book a room under the wedding room block and still receive the group discounted rate. After this date, the rooms are "put back on the market". This date is usually one month before the wedding day, perfect timing with when your guests need to respond!
What are Concessions? Upgrades. Concessions are bonuses the bride and groom receive for having awesome guests who booked this hotel block. Some hotels will offer the bride and groom a complimentary suite upgrade if their entire room block or percentage of their room block is booked. Sometimes they even offer complimentary suite upgrades for the parents!
Things to watch out for...
When Group Sales gives you a single rate, be sure to ask what types of rooms that includes (king, queen/queen, etc). In contracts, if only one rate is listed, be sure to check underneath in the "Rates" section, as if may state there is an extra fee on top of the given rate for a queen/queen room.
How long the rates are available for. Some hotels will list in their hotel contract that these discounted rates will be available to your guests 3 days before, and 3 days after the event. It's nice to relay this information on to your guests, as they may want to make a longer vacation out of it.
Welcome Bag Policy. It's a nice idea to welcome your out of town guests with a surprise gift when they arrive -- but you're probably going to pay delivery charges. Different hotels have different policies.
Wedding room blocks can be confusing to navigate, so we hope this helps!