Creating a unique and hospitable experience for guests is key to a successful event. Hospitality is interwoven in every aspect of your planning; even in the smallest details. It is my opinion that providing lodging (and transportation) options for your out of town guests will take your event to the next level. Any add-on (an extra detail not required) you can provide will enhance the experience of your guests and separate your event from the others.
When it comes to making a room block there are a few general principles you should know:
When to make the reservation:
The earlier the better. Doing so will ensure you receive the right number of rooms and the correct room type. It will also give you leverage to negotiate a better room rate!
Choosing the best property:
There are several factors to consider when choosing the property with whom you would like to book:
Price: If your guests are paying for the room, you want to stay within their range of affordability. If you are paying for the rooms, you should take your budget into consideration. **Don’t forget to factor taxes into the quoted room rate.** Oftentimes hotels will provide a free room when a guest books 20 rooms or more. Be sure to ask about such benefits! Also, keep in mind that hotels are willing to negotiate prices; don’t be afraid to discuss the rates.
Room Type: If you anticipate a number of families attending your event, you’ll want to select a property that has suites or at the very least a pull out couch. If you expect it to be singular guests or couples, then a property with standard rooms would be suitable.
Location: When possible, choose a location near your venue so that guests are not traversing the city to attend your event. Additionally, consider the convenience the property will provide for the guests arriving from the airport.
Check in and Check out Time: Will the check in and check out times at the property appropriately coincide with your event schedule? If not, be sure to request check-in and check-out times that will most benefit your guests. The earlier you make this request in your booking process the better!
Amenities: What amenities will your guests have at their disposal? A fitness center, business center, pool? Is there a shuttle service from the airport? Again, don’t forget about your guests who won’t have cars!
Choosing the right type of Room Block:
Generally speaking, there are two types of room blocks at hotels. The two are very different, so I’ve provided some general guidelines to help you think through which one best suits your need.
Closed (Guaranteed) Block: Typically, hotels require a deposit to create a closed block. A closed block guarantees that the rooms in that block will not be used by anyone else. However, this means that the guest is financially responsible for the rooms if they are not used. Sometimes the guest owes a percentage and other times they owe a real number. This is known as an attrition rate. Every property sets up their attrition rate differently, so be sure to inquire early as to what it is!
Open (Courtesy or Call-In) Block: There is typically no financial obligation with these blocks. Generally, the biggest requirement is that the rooms be booked before the cutoff date (this date varies, but usually thirty to ninety days before the event). Open blocks are most frequently used for weddings. A bride will call a property near her venue and set up a block of 20 rooms with a negotiated lower rate. She then sends out the block number to her guests so that the first 20 guests to take advantage of the block number will get a great location at a great price!
Though not comprehensive, this is a thorough guide to selecting a hotel and setting up a group block. Don’t miss out on this easy upgrade. It will have greater impact than you know!