Wedding Room Blocks 101 by Skipper

The essentials

A room block is a group of hotel rooms that a hotel puts on hold at a specially negotiated rate for a group of people. A room block can be set up for a family reunion, a conference, or a wedding! Room blocks typically need to be at least 9 rooms (although sometimes hotels offer room blocks for 5+ rooms). All individual guests are responsible for paying for and reserving their own rooms. The hotel will usually release any unused rooms within 30 days prior to arrival (this is known as the cutoff date) with no penalty. Please note that wedding room blocks don’t usually require any prepayment (but sometimes they will, especially if you are guaranteeing rooms or looking in destination wedding location).

Anyone planning a wedding with out-of-town guests needs to set up a room block as a courtesy for guests. It’s completely free for you and your guests will appreciate the courtesy.

Make sure your wedding isn’t on the same weekend as any major events going on at the same time. There will always be something going on, but the Superbowl or Restaurant Week taking place over your weekend will make things a lot more difficult to plan and a lot more expensive for your guests.

A safe way to estimate the number of rooms you need is to take the total number of out-of-town guests that you’re expecting and divide that number by two. You will almost never need more than that amount of rooms, and will usually need less. If you’re planning on splitting your guests up at multiple hotels, you can just divide that number by the number of hotels you’ll be holding rooms at.

The location of your wedding and the amount of out-of-town guests you’re expecting should affect the number of room blocks you set up. Know that you can’t accommodate everyone. Some people will be staying with friends and family or will have rewards points with another hotel group. So no need to get room blocks at 10 hotels around the city in hopes that everyone will be happy. It’s more fun when everyone is staying at the same hotel anyways (or at least at hotels that are close by). If you want to give options of hotels to your guests, it’s best to offer 2 hotels that vary in price by more than $50 and are within 1-2 miles of the wedding venue. Guests want room blocks that are close to the weekend activities. Walking distance is ideal, but a short shuttle ride away from your venue is also a great option. Wedding room blocks are a great way to get additional perks from hotels. Some hotels will sometimes offer you free shuttle service to your venue or maybe even a complimentary honeymoon suite if your guests book a lot of rooms. This is on top of the savings you can usually get by booking as a group.

A courtesy room block is the most flexible option. You won’t need to pay anything up front and won’t be charged penalties for unused rooms. Hotels can’t offer too many rooms initially (10-30 rooms max.) in this case, but will usually add more if you fill the rooms and they still have availability. Not all hotels will be able to offer a courtesy room block, though, especially if it is for a destination wedding or a very popular weekend. We usually recommend that our users try for this option when possible. A guaranteed room block is usually less desirable for weddings. 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. 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, you should do some preliminary research to make sure you’ll have enough guests to book at the hotel, by calling some of your closer friends and family to see their plan for accommodations.

Once you get an offer you like, you can accept the offer to request an agreement which will finalize the deal. Most of the agreements for wedding room blocks are typically more for the hotel than for you. If it is a courtesy room block agreement, you are not financially liable for anything. The hotel simply must deliver the number of rooms they offered at the rate they offered to your guests. Sometimes the agreements get reused so just make sure it has your name and dates on it before signing. Also, remember that Skipper makes the signing process easy through e-sign. So there’s no need to print, scan, or fax anything.

If a room block is set up, but nobody knows about it, is there a room block? Sorry to get all philosophical, but hey! You need to share the room block info with your guests so they can take advantage of these deals. We’ve heard too many stories of guests booking rooms at the hotels separately, completely unaware that they could get a special rate for rooms by booking in your block. This also means they won’t be on the list that you’ll get from the hotel, so it could impact your welcome bag or transportation counts.  Guests really appreciate when you give them one or two options and detailed instructions for booking rooms, whether it’s a phone number to call or a booking code to type in online. You can share this information on your wedding website or email it out in a reminder to your guests.