Hannah Black & Alex Hubbard – Hilton Lexington/Downtown

Congratulations- you’ve made it through Phase One of wedding planning!  Your to-do list has all of your top priorities completed.  The date is set, guest list finalized, ceremony and reception venue are booked and your team of amazing wedding vendors is aligned.  Alas, there is no rest for the weary.  It’s time to talk to both sides of the family about accommodation needs for your out-of-towners.  

If you are planning the details of your wedding, it is important to reserve hotel rooms for your guests.  Often, hotels will offer group discounts when multiple hotel rooms are booked.  Booking hotel rooms in advance will save you and your wedding guest’s money, time and frustration. 

Deciding when the time is right for booking your hotel block depends on many factors.  The more out-of-towners you expect, the sooner you need to research your options.  Are you providing transportation to and from your wedding festivities?  Does your special day fall on a busy time of year?  Is your venue in a smaller town with limited hotel options for your guests? These are some reasons to consider starting your hotel planning as soon as possible. 

The Basics: 

* Decide how many rooms you think will be needed for your guests 

* Research hotels around the area of your ceremony and reception 

* Call your preferred hotel(s) and ask to speak with someone in Group Sales, preferably a Wedding Sales Manager 

* Discuss the needs of your guests and ask questions to ensure the hotel can meet your expectations for guest experience 

* Book your block of hotel rooms 

* Inform your wedding guests of your selection(s) and offer directions for making reservations 

 Room Block Type:  Social vs. Contracted 

Ask your preferred hotel if they offer courtesy block agreements. This is an agreement between the Hotel and Group.  This agreement will allow for up to a specified number of rooms per night to be held under no financial obligation by the Group.  If they do, discuss specifics such as the maximum number of rooms to be held per night, how long the rooms will be available in the block (the cut-off date), and what happens if the block fills.  It is important to know if you have the option to increase your block should your allocated rooms be booked. You may decide to book multiple blocks at different hotels to accommodate a larger volume of guests, as options for them to choose their perfect stay. 

A Contracted (Guaranteed) Room Block is more rigid and based upon a financially binding agreement between the Hotel and Group for a specified number of rooms.  Contracted blocks agree to a stated Attrition and Cancellation Clause.  The attrition percentage or stated fee may vary due to the hotels demand, group size and seasonality. Typically, an attrition fee of 80% is common. This would mean that 80% of the rooms contracted must be booked; otherwise there will be a financial penalty.  Discuss with the hotel sales manager any questions you have regarding demand in the area over the dates of your wedding and the number of guests traveling.  A few rules of thumb to remember: count one room per two persons, consider that not all guests will stay for two nights and some guests will seek other arrangements best suited for them. 

Now that we know the types, let’s discuss the where and why.  When choosing a hotel, you should consider a location near your wedding venues.  Hotels within walking distance are preferred for their convenience. Additional considerations of nearby attractions such as dining, shopping and entertainment will also provide options for guests around scheduled wedding festivities. 

Important questions to ask when making the call: 

* Hotel Sales Manager’s name, number and email 

* What is the group discounted rate?  What taxes and fees will be added to the rate? 

* Are Courtesy Blocks offered?  What is the maximum number of rooms per night offered? What options are available if additional rooms are needed? 

* How will my guests book their rooms (group code, online booking links and reservation contact information)? 

* What time is check-in and check-out? 

* What are the standard amenities for the hotel (parking, airport shuttles, breakfast, Wi-Fi, pool, fitness, etc.)? 

* What options are available for suites? Are discounted rates available? 

* Does the hotel have a bar and restaurant onsite? 

* Is event space available for a wedding breakfast, brunch, rehearsal dinner or welcome reception? 

In addition to your preliminary questions, don’t forget about a few of the other potential perks for you and your guests.  If you are providing wedding welcome bags for your guests, ask how these are handled with the hotel.  Is there a fee for having the bags delivered to guest rooms?  Is there a complimentary service to have them handed out at check-in? Are there any special requirements for the bags? Knowing these policies and procedures will take the stress out of these thoughtful gifts for you and your guests. 

Transportation options provided by hotels vary.  Ask questions in these regards that reflect the needs you anticipate for your guests.  Many hotels provide complimentary airport shuttles- see if this service is offered by your hotel and ask about how these arrangements should be made.  Some hotels will also allow for their in-house shuttles to transport guests to and from your wedding venues.  Remember to ask about any restrictions and fees for these services if they are provided. 

Hospitality goes hand in hand with a perfect wedding weekend.  When not participating in wedding festivities, consider options with-in the hotel for your guests to enjoy time together for socializing.  Ask about common areas of the hotel where guests can congregate such as a lounge, bar, restaurant, pool or sundeck. 

Once you have the details finalized, share your information with your guests.  Be sure to include specific details for booking arrangements such as location, discounted rates, reservation information and cut-off dates.  Keep in contact periodically with your hotel to follow-up on current rooming lists to see who has made reservations and check the availability of rooms in your block.  As you reach closer to your celebrations, remember to share information with your hotel regarding transportation, wedding welcome bags and an itinerary for ceremony and reception (location and times).  This information will help the hotel to ensure that your guests enjoy excellence in customer service and leave with warm memories to cherish.  

Contact Alex Hubbard at alex.hubbard@hilton.com to schedule your site visit or to book your hotel room block at Hilton Lexington/Downtown!