With the rising popularity of Airbnb’s and other alternatives to hotels, many of your out of town guests are not going to want or need recommendations on where to stay in Portland. So when do you need to contract for a room block? Find pricing for hotels near your wedding venue? Etc.
If you are having a true destination wedding, such as an intimate affair in Hawaii where 100% of your guests and you will need a place to stay, please negotiate a room block. If your wedding is late in the day in to the night or early morning in a remote part of the coast, The Gorge, wine country (or any time in summer when all accommodations fully book up) negotiate room blocks if you confirm with close family and friends they need and want this.
What is a room block?
A room block is a contracted rate guaranteed for a select number of hotel rooms for a given set period of dates. Most room blocks are set for ten guaranteed rooms. While you don’t have to directly pay for all ten rooms, if your guests don’t book all ten rooms fully and the hotel cannot book them after your release date on the rooms, you will have to pay for those rooms – used or not.
Other options include negotiated discount codes. Some hotels will give you a discount code to give your guests on your wedding website. There is no contract involved. As a courtesy they give you a discount code (usually between 5-10%) your guests use it when they book directly online through the hotel website. Hotel Zag will do this.
Don’t over think this in your planning phase. People have personal reasons to choose where they will stay. Maybe they have family or friends they’re visiting as part of your wedding trip and they want to be near them or stay with them. Maybe they have rewards points to use with one hotel chain over another. Don’t assume people want you to set up their accommodations. They usually don’t.
The best thing to do for all weddings is recommend a few hotels – look up their current rates for your wedding weekend, and put a link to their web booking page in your wedding website. You can say something like, “The Jupiter Hotel – $157+ per night”
So to summarize, put some info on your wedding webpage about nearby hotels but don’t contractually negotiate rates unless you absolutely can guarantee those rooms will be reserved. Room blocks are great for destination weddings, in most other circumstances just ask for a discount code or recommend nearby hotels you would stay at. Find at least 2 price points if possible. Don’t waste more than 20-30 minutes on this task in your wedding planning process. A good partial or full service planner will do this for you. If your wedding is happening anywhere with a lot of options. Don’t spend more than an hour on this task even if your wedding is not close in. Find two – three good recommendations and then relax. Your friends and family know how to book a room!