Wedding Planning 101: Hotel Accommodations

Whether you have the majority of guests coming in from out of town or not, it’s always a good idea to make your guests feel comfortable by booking a block of hotel rooms.  As planners, we regularly help our clients in setting up these blocks. Luckily for us, we use online services which put hotels in a competitive bidding situation.  But, even without this tool, you can still be prepared.

Here’s our tried and true process:

  • Go through your guest list and identify which guests you think will book a hotel.  Will they want two beds, one king?  When will they check in and out?  Always keep in mind that guests may want a room prior to and after the day of the wedding!  Tally the room nights by room type to come up with a good estimate of your needs.  Try to be as accurate as you can.  If the hotel is booking up as you run out of rooms, they may not be willing {or able} to add more rooms {or give you the same rate}. That doesn’t mean you purposely overcommit. Hotels know that couples often overcommit, so they typically won’t block more than 10-20 rooms initially to ensure they are not stuck with the excess inventory in the end.

  • Select several hotels from which you want bids. Consider price points and quality of hotel – you want to give your guests options.  Also consider location and proximity to wedding activities and outside activities and services.

  • Contact the hotels, give your dates, and room tallies by night.  Ask about guest transportation, financial commitment on your part, and amenities.

    • Transportation Options

      • Free/greatly reduced transportation options are not available at many hotels and not at all in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

      • You will need to consider what is more important – location or transportation.  Of course, transportation can always be secured through an outside vendor.  

    • Commitment and Flexibility

      • Most couple want to book a “courtesy block” whereby you are not financially liable for unbooked rooms, however, if you know you will fill the rooms, getting a contracted block gets you better rates.

      • Contracted blocks require that you meet revenue commitments, generally 80% of the room block, or you pay for the lost revenue.

      • Regardless of the route you go, be sure you set realistic block sizes to ensure you have enough rooms but are not left paying out for lost revenue.

      • Don’t forget to ask about the cost to hand out welcome bags or to give information cards to guests!

    • Amenities

      • Most hotels offer perks if a certain number of rooms are booked under the block.  Often times you will get a free or upgraded suite or meal vouchers for guests.  Be sure to ask what each hotel offers and the number of rooms that need to book for you to qualify.

      • Ask about online tools to manage the booking.  Many hotels now allow you to manage this online, enabling you to get rooming lists and to check inventory any time you wish.  

If this seems too daunting, or if you’d rather someone else take the reins, we are happy to help.  Check out our list of wedding planning services and give us a call!