By Jennifer Terkeltaub
Making sure hotels in your area have rooms available is a crucial part of having the wedding weekend run smoothly. We want to break down the booking process and help you understand exactly what room blocks are!
What is a Room Block?
A room block is a group of ten or more hotel rooms that a hotel puts on hold at a negotiated rate.
There are two ways to secure a room block for your wedding guests:
Group Room Agreement – Most hotels can block eleven or more rooms per night on your requested date on a definite basis. You will need to ensure that your guests will utilize a certain percentage of the rooms blocked. Otherwise, you will have to purchase the difference. We suggest that you look at your guest list and book the number of rooms that feels most comfortable to you. The group agreement is not meant to be a scary thing, it is meant for larger wedding groups!
What is attrition in a group agreement?
This number refers to the percentage of rooms that must be filled in order to avoid paying a penalty fee. Each hotel may have a different attrition number but it is typically 80-90%. If the entire room block is not used, then you owe the hotel for all unused rooms based on a minimum commitment of the percentage specified in the contract.
Courtesy Block – Most hotels can book ten or less overnight rooms per night in a Courtesy Block. This block relieves you from any personal obligation but will cause your guests who book, after the 10 rooms are picked up, to be subject to space and rate availability. Think of it this way: less commitment means less rooms held for you. This is a great option if you are really unsure of how many guests will need accommodations or if you have a smaller guest list. You can also add more rooms to the block once it is filled if the hotel has the availability.
Payment and Deposits
Typically for a wedding block, all individual guests are responsible for paying and reserving their own rooms. The wedding room block is then set up with a cutoff date. This means that the hotel is holding the rooms you have blocked until that date. The cutoff date is usually a month before your wedding. At the time of the cutoff date, any unused rooms will be removed from the block, so you will want to encourage your guests to book their rooms early! After the cutoff date, guests will not be able to book rooms at the preferred rate.
When do I need to block rooms?
Room blocks are an extremely important part of your guests having a great weekend. You want the hotel to be close to your venue, have excellent service and have availability. We suggest calling hotels and booking your block as soon as possible but at least six to eight months prior to your wedding date. This will give you a better chance at getting your first choice hotel.
Make sure your wedding isn’t on the same weekend as any major events going on in the area! Richmond is known for booking large sports groups and conferences, which is great for the city but not so great on your wedding weekend! When the hotel is booked, it is harder for them to be flexible with your wedding guests and can even raise the rates for the guestrooms.
How many rooms will I need to block?
There is no way to know exactly who will need rooms and who will decide to stay with a relative or friend over the weekend. The best advice we have is to take the total number of out-of-town guests that you’re expecting and subtract 10-15% of that number. This will give you an idea of how many out-of-town guests you’ll have that will attend AND need rooms.
Share the wedding block information with your guests.
When your room block is booked, let everyone in your party know so they can take advantage of the great deal you secured. The best way to share the information is through the reservations department at the hotel or an online booking link that the hotel will provide. You can share this link on your wedding website, through email, Facebook, and save the date cards. You want your guests to have the best experience possible, and a discounted room rate is a great way to start the weekend!
Remember, each hotel will have their own specific and unique details, amenities and incentives, but this should give you a general starting point. Blocking rooms is meant to be the easy part of the wedding, so get it done and off your plate so you have time for all the other fun things that go into wedding planning!
Jennifer Terkeltaub is the Sales Manager at The Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa / Short Pump. To get started on planning your dream wedding call (804) 592-3618 or visit www.hilton.com.