How to Block Book Hotel Rooms for your Next Event

Reserving a room block for your next big event be it a wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, anniversary, family reunion, or even a conference is the best way to ensure that your guests have a place to stay by your venue and at a discounted rate!  Doing a block booking gives you all sorts of deals like free wifi, parking, discounted room rates for your guests or even a free room for the wedding/anniversary couple or conference chair person. Here is everything you need to know to complete a block booking.

How do you block hotel rooms for a wedding or special event?

When looking into hotels there a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Price Point
  • Amenities (do you need parking available, wifi, a gym or pool, bridal suite, etc)
  • Distance to your venue
  • Or if you are in need of a venue does the hotel have one available
  • Free bridal suite included in booking enough rooms
  • Extra discounts for people who book early

If you’re having a wedding with a lot of out-of-town guests try to block at two different hotels with two different price points.  That way your guests can have a selection of prices to play around with for their travel budget.  This is also helpful as hotels might not be able to offer you a big enough block to cover all of your guests.

How do you Begin your Hotel Block Booking Process?

Start by searching online.  Look up hotels that are close to your venue and check out what a normal price is there around the time of your event.  Narrow down your search to two or three hotels that meet your criteria.  You can then contact their booking managers to coordinate the block.

When you call remember to give them the dates you want to reserve.  You may want to reserve blocks for a day before and a day after your event if you have out of town guests looking to make a weekend trip out of their travel. You should also give them any special requests like dropping off welcome bags in guests rooms or having them at the desk when they check in.  Start by blocking a smaller number of rooms, you can add more later but discuss this with the booking manager they might also allow you to block a larger number and release them as time goes on.  Especially if you are booking during a busy season for the hotel, you don’t want to lose spots to other guests.

You can also use free hotel room block series like Skipper or Group Travel to do the work for you.  They let you search all the major hotels near your venue, helps you negotiate the price, and you can even reserve your block right through them.

How do you Negotiate your Hotel Block?

Now that you’ve found a room block that works for your event it’s time to negotiate the contract with the hotel.  There are certain key words to know when review the contract terms.  Here they are:

  • Allowable Shrinkage Clause: The percentage of rooms that are allowed to go unbooked.
    Your target percentage is between 10–20 percent. Which means, if you’ve blocked 20 rooms but 2–4 go unbooked, you will not be penalized with a fee.
  • Attrition Rate or Minimum Commitment: The percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying a penalty fee which should be between 80–90 percent.  Example: If the entire room block is not used, you’ll owe the hotel damages for all unused rooms based on a minimum commitment of 80 percent. This means that if you do not book the minimum amount of rooms agreed to, you will owe for up to 80 percent of the room block.
  • Mitigation Clause or Resell Clause: The hotel will try to book unused rooms in your block so that you are no longer responsible for them you in essence release them, and they are sold to other customers and there for you aren’t paying for rooms that other guests are renting.

How Should you Communicate your Block Information to Guests?

The best way to let them know about the block booking options is to include it all in your wedding website. That way they can know all of the information and options available.  You can point your guests to your website in your invitation.  You can include information such as: please visit our website at http://www.wedding.com to see more information about our wedding and accommodations. It’s also nice to include directions to and from the venue to the hotel or transportation information on the website.

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