Hotel Room Block F.A.Q. by San Francisco + Napa Wedding Planner Kaella Lynn Events

January 18, 2018 0 Comments

Booking a hotel room block can seem daunting, but room blocks are helpful for weddings with a large number of out-of-town guests and as long as you can navigate the scene, you can book with ease. Here are some frequently asked questions that should help you to determine if a contracted block of rooms is right for you and more to help understand the process.

Photo by Melanie Duerkopp

What is a room block?

A room block is a predetermined number of rooms held at a hotel at a negotiated rate for a group of people. Room blocks can be set up for weddings, company events, conferences, etc. They are usually made up of 9 or more rooms. Guests book rooms at their own discretion and any unused rooms are released on an agreed upon date. In some cases, the organizer will have to prepay for the rooms or put a credit card on file with the hotel, but usually, this isn’t necessary. 

Do I need a room block?

Room blocks allow guests to book a room near your wedding. A general rule of thumb is to take the expected number of out-of-town guests and divide that by 2. If you still have approximately 9 rooms needed once that is done, it’s probably a good idea to get a room block. 

What is a Courtesy Block?

A courtesy room block is the most flexible option. There is no upfront costs or penalties for unused rooms. The hotels can’t offer too many rooms initially (10-30 room max) for courtesy blocks, but they will usually add more on if you fill the rooms and they still have availability. Some hotels don’t offer a courtesy room block, especially if it is for a destination wedding or a very popular weekend.

What is a Guaranteed or Contracted Room Block?

A guaranteed/contracted room block is more common during high season or popular event weekends. The biggest difference is the hotel will charge you a penalty if your guests don’t book an agreed upon percentage (usually 80-90%) of the rooms in the room block (see attrition below). This is really only a good option for people with very large or destination weddings who are absolutely certain guests will need the rooms at that particular hotel. If you’re thinking of this option, we suggest calling some of your closest friends and family to see their plan for accommodations and if they will use the rooms.

What is the Rack Rate?

This is the booking price to the public. Comparing this to the room block rate will show you the percentage discount you secure by contracting a block.

Photo by Melanie Duerkopp

What is the benefit of contracting a block of rooms?

The benefit of contracting a block of rooms is that you are guaranteed availability at the hotel up to 30 days prior to arrival and you likely will receive a group rate that is lower than the standard retail rate. This group rate will not change, but standard retail rates do. Contracting a block of rooms also gives peace of mind that your attendees will have a place to stay.

How do I ensure that my guests are booking at this hotel rather than elsewhere?

The best way to ensure that your guests book at the hotel to eliminate any type of attrition is to use our hotel as the headquarter hotel and not to provide too many options for lodging in the area until the block has been picked up. Once your block is full, send out additional area hotel options. It’s also helpful to include verbiage in the save the date about the importance of guests booking at the headquarter hotel.

What is a minimum length of stay?

A minimum length of stay is often instituted by hotels during high season. They will typically require a 2-night minimum for wedding blocks that fall over a Friday/Saturday night. For guests to receive the group rate, the reservation must be for the Friday/Saturday and either the night before or after.

What is cancellation?

Cancellation refers to a complete canceling of the entire contracted guest room block. This is rare, but from time to time is necessary due to a changing of the date of a wedding, changing the location of the wedding or other instances that eliminate the need for rooms. This is not to be confused with individual cancellations. Individuals can cancel their reservations up to 72 hours prior to arrival without penalty and these cancellations have no bearing on the cancellation clause.

What is attrition?

If the hotel allows for 15% attrition for all group room contracts. Attrition relates to a reduction in actual room night pickup from the contracted block. For example, if a wedding group contracts 10 rooms for 2 nights (20 room nights), the hotel allows for 15% attrition (.15 x 20 rooms = 3 rooms). This means that the hotel is expecting that a minimum of 17 of the 20 room nights to actually pick up. Any difference will be charged as attrition. In this example, if only 7 rooms stay at the hotel for 2 nights (14 room nights), a charge for 3 room nights multiplied by the group rate will be charged as attrition.

Photo by Sally Pinera

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