Setting up a room block at hotels are a great way to help direct guests who will be coming from out of town or want to make a night of it for themselves for your wedding to options that would work well for your event. You want to reserve these blocks as soon as the hotel(s) will allow it (typically 12 months or less out from your date, but some may be earlier than that) and have a good handle on your guest list to help determine how many rooms you want to block off.
Some things to consider and a few of our best tips:
- If you aren’t already, when you choose the hotel you want to book a block of rooms at, join their reward program! Most of the hotels have them and many will give out bonus points for you for having a block there.
- Hotels will think in terms of rooms and nights, meaning you could have a block of 5 rooms, but have 10 nights because all of those rooms are being rented out Friday and Saturday. Keep that in mind if you are getting some kind of bonus that is based on nights, and not how many rooms are rented.
- The best option is to get blocks at hotels that are as close to your venue as possible, since most guests are likely staying at a hotel so they don’t have a long way to travel at the end of night.
- Don’t do blocks at more than three hotels unless you KNOW you will need more.
- Most hotels will give you a direct link or code that guests need to use in order to be counted under your room block. This is particularly important if some reward for you, like a free room or bonus points, is contingent on how many rooms/nights are booked under your block. The link or code should be included on your wedding website and/or save the date and/or invitation. Your contact at the hotel can furnish you with periodic updates of the people who have booked under your booking link or code.
- If someone does book a room at a hotel where you have a block but doesn’t use the booking link or code to do so, you can let your contact at the hotel know and they can look to see if that room can still qualify for your reward. If the guest booked it under a third party site, like Expedia, or used points to pay for it, then it likely won’t count towards your reward but they can at least be added to the list of your guests.
- You want as accurate a list of guests staying at each of the hotels as you can, particularly if you are doing welcome bags for them and/or are arranging transportation to and from the hotel. Be sure to include that question on your RSVPS, whether they are being mailed in or being done online.
- If you are arranging transportation to and from hotels, you can’t please everyone. Choose one or two hotels to have the transportation go to, put that information out there, and let people choose from there where they are going to stay.
- Don’t forget about amenities! What is the parking situation? Is there free Wifi? Is breakfast included?
- Very few hotels offer in-house courtesy transportation anymore, and even if they do it’s not very reliable and the shuttles can usually only hold about 12 people. If you want to provide a shuttle for your guests you will want to look into a private company that will do as many trips as you need when you need them.
- Depending on the location of the hotels you are considering, particularly in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. rates may fluctuate based on events in town, like sports games. For example, if your hotel is very close to US Bank stadium and you are looking to book a block before the Vikings schedule is released, they will likely quote you a higher rate until they know if there will be a home game the weekend of your wedding. If a Vikings game is not happening that weekend, you may be able to get a reduction in your block rate. If they are in town, you should probably be happy with the rate you are locked into because it might go even higher now!
- The room rates you have in your contract might be less than the market rate at any given time, but they might also be more than some people find online at any given time, which is why not everyone will book under your block. If you are able to, put a message on your website asking people to call the hotel if they book not under your link and code and have the front desk add them to your list of guests.
- If you are looking to have a spot for a rehearsal dinner the day before or a brunch the next day, a hotel where you have a room block (and where you will personally be staying) is a great place to start your search. Because you have a block there, the hotel may be willing to waive a room fee or give you some other kind of bonus for having an event there too.
Some of our favorite Twin Cities hotels:
Canopy by Hilton: This hotel features a modern industrial design with beautiful exposed brick throughout the building. On the ground floor you can find UMBRA, a restaurant that uses local farms and producers as well as distilled beverages made on site.
Hotel Emery: This hotel embraces its history while providing a luxurious environment for their guests. Be sure to check out their restaurant, Giulia, and their cafe, Spyhouse Coffee Lounge.
Renaissance Hotel: This hotel embraces the historical components by accenting the bare brick walls and iron trusses with modern decor. Their restaurant and bar, Milwaukee Road, features cuisine with influences from Minneapolis and other Northern locations.
Courtyard by Marriott: This hotel features modern decor with gorgeous city views. They also have a restaurant that offers delicious American cuisine.
Want to know the difference between a hotel offering a “Courtesy” block vs a “Contracted” block?
A Courtesy Block is a block of rooms held for your group with a cut-off date (usually 30 days prior to check-in, but all hotels can be different). At the cut-off date, the hotel will release any unbooked rooms in your block back into their inventory without financial obligation for you. The downfall is that in order to get a courtesy block, most hotels require the contract to be 10 rooms or less per night. In addition, there is no guarantee that more rooms can be added after the initial rooms run out.
A Contracted Block is for a guaranteed number of rooms at a guaranteed (usually lower) rate. Your group will be required to pick up the contracted number of rooms, but the hotel will allow a little flexibility which is called attrition. Let’s say you contracted 100 room nights and your attrition is 80%, then your group would be responsible for booking a minimum of 80 room nights (80% of 100 rooms) by the cut-off date. If you don’t fill the 80% as contracted, you will be charged for the unbooked rooms. Keep in mind that contracted blocks typically come with great free concessions, lower rates and larger blocks to hold more guests. Sometimes we are able to have the hotels also offer a 3-week cut off date rather than 3 weeks. We try to be really conservative on these types of blocks and don’t recommend doing them unless you are VERY confident that you will be able to fill up the rooms and not have to pay for unused ones.
Have more questions about room blocks and planning the details of your wedding day? Contact us HERE!
Looking for more wedding planning tips? Check out our blog on booking hair and makeup HERE or our list of things that impact your wedding day timeline HERE.