Here’s everything you need to know about booking a hotel block and even all the things you didn’t know.
At Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks we worked at hotels. Our staff is comprised of people who were Director of Sales at properties, Global Sales for brands, Sales Coordinator’s, etc. If you call a hotel to book a room block, these are the people that do it.
After working in the industry for 15+ years we started working for the public doing the same thing- booking hotel blocks. This is important to know because our advice is different than what you’re going to receive anywhere else and that’s because our advice comes from the inside. We didn’t learn as we went along, we didn’t read blogs, we’re sharing what we know from working in all the major hotel brands in the world.
With that in mind, let’s start from the beginning.
What is a wedding room block v. a hotel block?
These words are used interchangeably, and they refer to discounted rooms held on your behalf at a hotel.
Do I need a hotel block for my wedding?
Often people talk about the hotel block as only being for out-of-town guests, but that’s simply not true. Even if you don’t have out-of-town guests, will there be people that have to drive home? How late is your wedding ending? Will they be tired? Will they have been drinking at the wedding?
Guests coming in from out-of-town definitely need a hotel block, but a lot of people who aren’t from out-of-town choose to stay at a hotel because they know they’ll be drinking, or they know they’ll be staying out late or they don’t like driving at night. Whatever their reasons are, by you getting a hotel block you’re providing them with options.
And for the wedding party, often they too like to stay at the hotel the night before the wedding that way they don’t have to worry about waking up early to get ready and take photos. Plus, you may also want a suite to get ready in and without a hotel block you’d be paying full price for that suite v. getting a discounted rate. Which brings us to our next question.
What do I get when I book a hotel block?
First you get discounted rooms for your guests and for yourself, often including suites, but it doesn’t end there. When you’re negotiating a hotel block, you’re negotiating for more than just the room rate. This will vary based on your location, but some examples include discounted parking, discounted breakfast vouchers or breakfast included in the rate, waived resort fees, WIFI, a bottle of champagne to celebrate, a snack tray, shuttle transportation, upgrades for parents, access to spaces for photos, etc.
This will vary by location. For example, in Manhattan hotels don’t offer shuttle transportation or discounted parking because they don’t own those services, but in New Jersey there are several hotels that offer shuttle service based on how many guests are in your hotel block. If all you’re thinking about when you’re negotiating the hotel block is the price, you could be missing out on other perks.
From a logistics perspective there’s a benefit as well. Let’s say you plan on handing out welcome bags or your weekend wedding itinerary for your hotel guests. Well if they haven’t booked as part of your hotel block, the hotel can’t identify who’s who so basically, they can’t do it. Also, if you needed to track who had booked at the hotel, again you only get access to that information with a hotel block.
How big of a discount will I get?
Your discounted rate will vary per hotel but generally it’s a 20-30% discount off the advertised price.
We’ll take a moment here to warn you that if you see a service advertising 70% off, it’s not accurate. Again, our staff worked at all of the major brands, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, independent hotels, etc. we don’t want to say it’s impossible but it’s highly unlikely. That being said there are exceptions. Suites for example, could have a bigger discount. We’ve booked suites that are normally $1,000 online for $600 but in terms of what your guests would be paying, it’s generally 20-30% off.
How far in advance do you block hotel rooms for a wedding?
9 to 12 months before your wedding. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to book 6 months out, but you may come across limited availability for a few reasons maybe there’s a big conference in town, maybe the hotel has their groups already allotted for your weekend, etc. Ideally you want to be within that 9 to 12-month range.
Also keep in mind that your wedding date may be over high-demand hotel dates. For example, New Year’s Eve in New York City is going to be expensive and incredibly difficult to get a hotel block, so you’d want to book a hotel block 12-14 months out in that case. There are also citywide conventions to be aware of, tradeshows, festivals, if you’re getting married near a big football college the hotels probably won’t release hotel rates until the football schedule comes out, so there are a lot of factors, which is why we don’t recommend waiting to book your hotel block. You’re in the best position if you book 9 to 12 months before the wedding.
How do I know I’m ready to book a hotel block?
Once you have your wedding date booked with your venue, you’re ready.
Do I need to know how many guests are coming to my wedding to book a hotel block?
No. With few exceptions most hotel blocks are between 10-20 rooms. Hotels can often add to that as your guests book their rooms, but unless you’re having a large wedding and everyone is from out-of-town, don’t worry about the size of your hotel block.
Do I need to pay for the hotel rooms?
No. If you want to pay for them or pay for some of the rooms you can but it’s not a requirement. Guests don’t expect you to pay and neither do the hotels.
In most cases what you’d be booking at the hotel is called a courtesy room block or a courtesy block, which means that rooms are being held on your behalf without any financial obligation. Guests will call on their own and book their own rooms. You’re only giving them the link to book and the code to mention if they choose to call.
Is there a limit to how many rooms a hotel can put in my hotel block?
Yes. If you’re doing a ‘courtesy block’ (which means you’re not financially responsible for the room), a hotel will limit the number of rooms they put in your hotel block. Usually it’s 10 to 20 rooms. This is meant to protect the hotel because usually only 50% of a hotel block gets used so they can’t risk taking too many rooms out of inventory and then not having them get booked.
Also keep in mind that a hotel won’t put all of its rooms in a room block. They usually limit it to 20 or 30% of inventory because they need rooms for the transient guests as well. This is why it’s important to book in advance.
How many hotel blocks do I need?
Generally, you only need one hotel unless you want to stay at a luxury hotel with immediate family and have a second affordable hotel option nearby for guests, in that case we’d recommend two.
What to look for when booking my hotel block?
Proximity to your venue and rate are usually the most important factors but some other things to consider would be their suite options, some hotels may only have one suite and if you need two, that property won’t work for you. Also consider whether you want a bar area for guests to get together after the wedding? Do you need it to be a pet friendly hotel? Do you want a hotel with outdoor public space, a pool, nearby parking? If there’s anything that stands out to you as a special request.
How do I book a hotel block?
Basically, you have to call the hotels closest to your venue, but you already know what happens when you call a business right? They don’t answer, you leave a message, you maybe hear back a week later, then it’s a chain of e-mails back and forth, mistakes on the contract, etc. This pretty much happens everywhere and the same is true for hotels.
Some hotels do have a link where you could simply put in your information and ta-da you have a room block, but there’s no negotiating and if you don’t negotiate you’re not going to get the best rate or any of the other perks we mentioned.
The best way is to use a service like Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks. You will have one consultant who you work with from the day you reach out until the day of your wedding. They’ve worked in hotels; they know how to negotiate, and it makes things much simpler. All you have to do is give them the basic details about your wedding like date, venue, anything that’s important to you such as a suite or a great bar, etc. and they literally take care of the rest. They’ll get rates from 5 sometimes 10 hotels near your venue, compile all the information, make recommendations, work out all the contract details so your protected – it could not be easier.
What if I reach out to a hotel, get frustrated and then decide to book a hotel block with a service?
This is tricky, sometimes the hotels will say “I already have this group” and not allow a service to work with you because they don’t want to be caught giving someone else a better rate and that’s okay if there are other hotels nearby, but generally your best bet is to reach out to a service like Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks first and then go from there. If you don’t like the service, you don’t have to use it, but it puts you in the best position to get the best deals, plus it’s free so there’s no downside.
Also feel free to check out the reviews.
How do I tell my guests about the hotel block?
Once you book a hotel block most hotels will provide you with a link that you can put on your wedding website so guests can book online. You will also receive a code (usually your last name and your fiancé’s last name) that guests can use if they prefer to call and book a room.
Your hotel information can be sent to your guests in various ways. We recommend a website which you can reference when you send your save-the-dates and invitations by saying something like “For hotel information go to our wedding website: X” but if budget allows, many weddings include a separate card with their wedding invitations that lists the hotel block information.
What if the room rate drops after I book my hotel block?
This is rare but even if it happens it’s no big deal. You let your consultant at Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks know and they will get the rate adjusted so that your rate is even lower.
It’s important to know that if you see a rate drop it doesn’t mean someone didn’t negotiate well for you, it only means the hotel probably had a huge cancellation some other factor affected their inventory.
What are some key terms to look out for in my hotel block contract?
Refer to this blog post where we outline all of the vocabulary you need to know when booking a hotel block. Again, working with Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks we will explain all of it to you directly based on the hotel you select but the blog is a great starting point.
Will I have an onsite contact at the hotel?
Yes. In most cases you will have an onsite contact that will be managing your room block at the hotel. In some regions of the country hotels are understaffed meaning the general manager also does sales who also does weddings, etc. We typically do not recommend those types of hotels if there are other options but if there are no other options then you’re going to need to over communicate in order to ensure things go smoothly for your wedding.
Some key times to communicate with the hotel include:
· After you book the room block make sure you get your online booking link for your hotel website. This can take 2-4 weeks.
· Once you mail out your save-the-dates, let the hotel know. This is helpful in case there was a change in staff at the hotel but also, it’s a nice reminder.
· Once you mail out your invitations, remind the hotel again.
· 4 weeks before your cut-off date (this is the day the hotel releases unused rooms) reach out to the hotel and ask them for a rooming list. This will tell you how many people have booked in your room block that way you can follow-up with anyone you think is missing from the list.
· 2 weeks before your cut-off date repeat the step above.
· 5 days before your cut-off date repeat the step above.
· 1 week before your wedding, reach out to the hotel again to remind them you’re checking in, remind them of any perks they promised you during your initial negotiations, etc.
All of the above can be done via e-mail and we recommend you copy your Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks consultant on that e-mail as well because if there has been a staff change we’re usually the first to know and can quickly redirect but also if the hotel is taking long to get back to you, we’ll call on your behalf. You may not realize or see the advocacy that happens behind the scenes but if you keep us looped in, we always take the extra steps to make sure your hotel stay goes smoothly.
If you’re ready to get started, CLICK HERE to get rates from hotels near your wedding venue.