Wedding planning can be exciting…AND stressful.
With COVID-related restrictions on the decline, destination weddings involving hotels and out-of-town guests for even the smallest events mean that advance planning by hotel staff is a necessity for almost every wedding.
Hotels need to be prepared to answer many questions (including those of enhanced COVID protections/protocols), promote any unique offers, group discounts, special amenities, and venues, and keep the process of blocking off hotel rooms for wedding parties as streamlined and stress-free as possible.
Here are some key considerations for hotel blocking for weddings.
Room blocking is when a guest reserves a number of rooms at one hotel for out of town wedding guests. Hotel blocks allow guests to stay at the same hotel which makes planning and transportation easier.
Several Key Points Guests Will Consider Before Blocking off Hotel Rooms:
- Proximity of the reception venue, amenities, and price point.
- They will review competitive options and narrow down their search to two or three hotels. They will contact hotels and should have this information:
- The dates they expect their guest to be there.
- Any special requests that they may want for their wedding guests.
- The guest will probably ask about room rates and possible discounts that are available.
- They may reserve hotel room blocks with at least two hotels if they have a lot of out-out-town guests (larger than 140 guests).
- Guests usually reserve room blocks from 3 to 8 months ahead of the event to give guests time to decide and plan for the wedding.
- Guests may be unsure of how many guests are attending early in the planning process. Make your policies and penalties very clear.
Make your hotel room blocking policies clear:
- Do you offer Courtesy Room Blocks, or do you require a contract up front?
- Do you have an Allowable Shrinkage Clause — This number refers to the percentage of rooms that are allowed to go unbooked.
- What is your Target Percentage? It’s usually between 80 — 90 percent. Meaning, if your guest booked 20 rooms but 2–4 go unbooked, you’ve still reached your target, and the guest probably should not be penalized with a fee.
- What are your cut-off date and cancellations policies? Sometimes the unexpected happens. Make your deadlines clear.
- Mitigation Clause or Resell Clause: This means the hotel will try to book unused rooms in the block so the guest is no longer responsible for them if they’re later sold to other customers.
- Pandemic Cancellation (Force Majeure) Clause: This type of clause has evolved in recent time due to COVID-19. Hotels should consider incorporating a policy that provides for credit toward a rescheduled event of amounts already paid to the hotel or a percentage amount refunded of the total contract value. Drafting such a clause so that both parties bear risk ensures that the hotel will not take on one hundred percent of the risks associated with a pandemic-induced cancellation due to governmental order or regulation.
Wedding and event hotel room blocking can be great business opportunities for hotels if they are prepared to accommodate guest needs, and simplify the planning process. Extra attention for guests on their ‘special’ days will make your hotel special too.