There are a few key pieces you need to keep in mind before setting out to reserve hotel rooms for your wedding: proximity to your reception venue, amenities and price point. You definitely want to ensure your guests have a place to stay nearby. If you happen to be getting married at a venue that also has accommodations, start there. Oftentimes hotels will give you a discount on the room rate for reserving a block, which you can then pass along to your guests.
When planning, ask the venue manager about room rates and possibly a discount for your guests who reserve early. If you are having a destination wedding, you should reserve room blocks with at least two hotels especially if you are having a lot of out-of-town guests, getting married at a hotel with exceptionally pricey rooms or just have a larger-than-average guest list (more than 140). When you call to reserve, you'll give the hotel the dates you expect your guests to be there, plus any special requests you're hoping they'll help you fulfill (like dropping welcome bags at the door or transportation to and from the airport). To start, book a smaller amount of rooms and add more later if needed. This way, you avoid having to deal with penalties if rooms go unreserved.
Once you've found a room block option that works for your wedding, you'll most likely need to sign a contract to finalize the booking. There are certain key words you need to understand when reviewing the contract terms for a hotel block. Be sure you read through your contract fully before signing. Here's what to look out for:
Allowable Shrinkage Clause
What this means: This number relates to the percentage of rooms that are allowed to go unbooked.
Target Percentage: Between 10-20%. Meaning if you booked 20 rooms but 2-4 go unbooked you will not be penalized with a fee.
Attrition Rate or Minimum Commitment
What this means: This number refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying a penalty fee.
Target Percentage: Between 80-90%. (Note: Attrition rate should be high; allowable shrinkage should be low)
Sample Excerpt: If the entire room block is not used, you will owe the hotel damages for all unused rooms based on a minimum commitment of 80%. This means if you do not book the minimum amount of rooms agreed to, you will owe for up to 80% of the room block.
Mitigation Clause or Re-sell Clause
What this means: The hotel must try to book unused rooms in your block so that you are no longer responsible for them if they are later sold to other customers. In short: you should not be paying for rooms that other guests are paying for.
Working within the meeting planning industry, we see a lot of hotel contracts. There's always room for negotiation, so don't be fearful of asking for a better deal. Definitely review the contract and if there's something you're unsure of consult with your wedding planner - as they may be more familiar with room blocks.
If you're looking for an easier way to setup room blocks rather than working with the venue manager or calling different hotels, try this new online tool by Jetaport and The Knot. The simple hotel room block reservation feature they've created lets you search on all major hotels near your venue and then recommends and helps you negotiate a great price and reserve all your rooms in one easy place. There are even hotel room block concierges with Jetaport to walk you through everything in case you get stuck along the way.
When everything is set, the best way to communicate your hotel block information is to include it on your wedding website or invitations. That way all your guests will feel well-informed and can easily click to learn more about the accommodation options available. Also consider listing contact information for either your wedding planner or a family member on your site as well so that guests can contact he or she directly with questions about directions or accommodations.
We hope this 101 on hotel room blocks has eased your mind when it comes to negotiating and devouring the details of your contract. Enjoy your stay knowing you and your guests are fully taken care of!