I have worked in hospitality — at hotel front desks, bars, and even housekeeping — for years. I've also worked at both small luxury hotels and larger big brand hotels, like the ones that rhyme with Shmilton and Shmarriott.
Over the years I've picked up a few pointers on making the wedding-and-hotel experience go a little smoother.
Here are my recommendations on booking a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests:
- Get a good idea of how many rooms you will need before you make the block.
- The more accurate you are up front, the less trouble you'll run into. Hotels charge for “attrition,” so make sure you know how many rooms you absolutely must fill without being charged, otherwise it can negate the low room rate for your whole group. Usually at least 10 rooms, or 80% of the rooms reserved must be filled.
- Check Uncle Google for events like conventions, sports events, graduations, etc. happening the days around your event. (More on that over here.) When hotels are less full, they can offer significantly lower rates, make your requests more likely to be fulfilled (rooms on certain floors, close together, etc.), and make sure guests booking outside the blocked dates can book a room.
- If it's allowed, add in “shoulder” days. If your event is Saturday, most guests will arrive Friday and depart Sunday, but some people may want to come in a day early and leave a day later. See if you can add a few rooms for Thursday and Sunday nights.
- Find out your cut-off date and stick to it. The block will close for booking a few weeks before your event, so make it very clear to your guests when they must book by. Late reservations aren't guaranteed to be available at the same rate or available at all, and can sometimes only be made through Sales — no more easy online booking or quick phone calls.
- Ask about a comp room for the night of your wedding. Many hotels will offer a complimentary room for the wedding night if you book enough guest rooms or hold your wedding in the hotel.
- Consider if you want to include breakfast or shuttle service. Not all hotels include breakfast, especially some of the larger brands. If most of your guests are coming from out of town, or if the hotel isn't within easy walking distance of restaurants, including breakfast can be a really convenient addition and give you a little extra time with your out-of-towners. Shuttle service to and from the event is not expected but it is a convenient, timely, and safe way to ensure transportation for your guests. Keep in mind service cannot always be added on last minute and ask upfront.
- Start your wedding after check-in time, or make sure your guests are prepared to get ready in the hotel lobby bathroom. Most guests expect rooms to be ready whenever they arrive — even if it's three hours early or before it's even check-out time. Sometimes rooms will be ready early, but it is not something hotels can always guarantee!
- So have your guests request an early check-in when they make their reservation (again, it's just a request), then call the hotel the day before or morning of to get an idea if the early check-in is available. This gives the hotel a chance to prepare rooms early if they can, and gives your guests time to find a back up plan. If a guest absolutely needs to have a room guaranteed for very early check-in, I would suggest booking (and yes, paying) for the night before.
- My final piece of advice is to remember hotel staff with a thank you note (they are considered vendors, too!), especially anyone who stood out at the front desk, with housekeeping, or in the restaurant.
If you've found a good deal and a nice place for your guests to stay, you've done your job. Go have fun!
- Get the best hotel service ever: give the front desk workers your extra gift bags!
- Booking a block of rooms: 5 helpful tips from the hotel front desk
- Why you should ALWAYS ask about other booked events at your wedding venue or hotel