Let's suppose you have a lot of out of town guests and that your wedding is a destination wedding for most guests. You'll probably have to offer some sort of accommodation informations or room block to your guests.
If you hired me for full planning, well you don't even need to read this blog post, I will be handling the room block and help you with it! Some of you know that I have worked for years in hotels and I have covered both roles, selling sleeping room blocks and selling and managing events so I know a thing of two of how it works and what to look for in contracts :)
In this article I will summarize all the important things you must know before reaching out to hotels.
Let's start with understanding two terms: courtesy vs. contracted room block.
Courtesy room block: it is generally a courtesy agreement for a block of 10 rooms (not more), with a very small discount (5-10%). With this type of room block you will not be financially responsible for the pick up of the rooms. If for example, you blocked 10 rooms and only 6 have been booked, on the cutoff date, the hotel will release the remaining 4 rooms and try to resell them. Nowadays few hotels in San Diego offer courtesy room blocks but it is worth giving it a try and call the Sales department of the hotel you are interested in. However keep in mind that if they do not offer courtesy room block there is not much negotiation you can do, if the answer is negative, move on to the next one.
Contracted room block: it can be 10, 20, 30 or even more rooms, it generally has a better discount than the courtesy room block and pretty much all hotels offer them. With this type of room block you will be financially responsible for the pick up of the rooms. If for example, you blocked 20 rooms and only 10 have been booked (whether you are paying for all rooms or if your guests are individually paying for their stay), you (the signer of the contract) will be responsible to cover the cost of the additional unused 10 rooms that the hotel has reserved for you and that your guests did not book (the actual number of rooms you will have to pay for, is based on the "attrition clause", a term I will explain you below).
Terms you need to understand when reading the hotel rooms contract:
Cut off date: this is the date the hotel will release any unused rooms from your courtesy or contracted room block. After this date, the price of the rooms will change and availability can change as well. In brief, after the cut off date, the hotel is not holding any unreserved rooms for you and your guests. Example: if you blocked 10 rooms and only 6 people booked, at the cutoff date, the 4 remaining rooms will be released and made available to the public. The cutoff date can be 45 to 30 days before the event date.
Attrition: the term refer to the % of room you have to pick up in order not to have to pay for the unreserved rooms. The attrition percentage can go from 70% to 90% at the discretion of the hotel. For example if you have blocked a total of 20 rooms for one night and you have a 80% attrition, it means that, in order not to own the hotel any money, you will need to book 16 room minimum.
Adding more rooms to a contract: if you filled your room block and you want to add more rooms please keep in mind that the rate can be higher. The less rooms a hotel has available, the higher the room rate will be.
Run of the house (ROH): you might or might not have this term in your contract in the section that talks about what type of rooms you will have. Run of house simply means that the hotel has the right to assign whatever room they have available at the time of booking and check in, queen, king etc.
IPO: or "Individual pays own" means that your credit card is only a guarantee for the pick up of the rooms but each guest will pay individually for their stay when they make the booking.
Room & Taxes to Master: means that you (signer of the contract) will be paying for the full wedding block.
If you are booking a room block for more than 1 night, two additional terms you should know are:
Attrition on a cumulative basis: this means that the number of rooms you have to pick up is calculated as a total of the nights your room block is reserved for.
Attrition per night: this means that the hotel, when checking if you are in attrition, will look at what percentage of rooms you picked up on each individual day you reserved.
Signing a room block agreement can be scary and I always recommend not to do a contracted room block unless you are sure that your guests will book the rooms. If you end up doing a contracted room block, make sure that your planner periodically checks in with the sales manager of the hotel to have an updated rooming list. What is a rooming list? It is simply the list of who booked the rooms so far! This will help the planner and yourself keep an eye on your attrition as you get closer to the wedding day.
I know this was a lot and honestly, as a bride or groom, you are not expected to know or even spend time trying to understand how to handle a hotel contract ( let's be honest, there are much nicer things you can do when planning a wedding like choosing the napkins or shopping for dresses!). Your planner should do it for you. If you are only hiring a coordinator please remember that it is not his or her responsibility to handle the accommodations.
Ok, I think this is enough for this blog post. Hopefully you'll find it useful!
If you'd like to inquire about my planning services send me an email at email@example.com