being a good host without going broke
May 7, 2009 7:40 PM   Subscribe

What's the usual room block requirements when planning a wedding or meeting? Any negotiating tips?

I'm trying to reserve a room block but the fine print in the draft wants to make me responsible for in essence 100% of the reserved rooms (and release them 30 days prior). Do I have to go without a room block? It's for a winter weekend wedding in Rosemont/O'Hare (Chicago) area. I don't think Christmas should be a factor since it's three weeks before.
posted by ejaned8 to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How well have you called around? This far in advance, any hotel should be happy to pre-book some rooms. When we blocked rooms for our wedding, we called five or six different hotels until we found one that we liked, would give us a discount, and wouldn't hold us accountable for un-filled rooms. The "winning" hotel even comped us a suite for two nights. Some were a lot less friendly of course. Keep trying!
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 8:59 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, call around some more, and negotiate. I had three room blocks for my wedding (in NYC, three price points) and I asked each hotel to remove the "guarantee" language that would hold me responsible for the unsold rooms. If they are releasing them from your block 30 days before the event, they should be able to sell any unsold rooms from your block. Those contracts are not set in stone - ask if they will modify it.

One of the hotels I used did not remove the language and the entire block was not reserved, but they didn't charge me for the unsold rooms. Just ask them if they can remove the language.
posted by bedhead at 9:13 PM on May 7, 2009

Response by poster: The reason I'd prefer to stay with the hotel is we're thinking of having our reception there, but I can go w/ my second choice if we can't negotiate on the room blocks.. good to know what to look for.
posted by ejaned8 at 6:49 AM on May 8, 2009

Best answer: Do they know you want to have the reception there? Hitting a large number in F&B (food & beverage) will often give you leverage with rooms.

Ask them for an attrition schedule to be written into the contract. 30 days prior to release all unused rooms is a bit much; if it's a busy hotel they'll have few worries if you release unused rooms two weeks out and assume payment liability for any others (bearing in mind that if they can rebook the rooms they may still charge you anyway! be sure to get written into the contract that you would only be liable for unused rooms that cannot be booked). An attrition schedule that allows for stepped-down percentages of rooms to be released over a period of time is far, far better.

You will want to ask, depending on the size of your block, about their gratis rate.. 1 per 30 or 40 is standard, and the ratio can go lower depending on the specific property.

You'll also want to ask about F&B minimums to waive room rental fees if you're having the reception there. You will also want to discuss whether they are making your cake (bad idea) or if you are bringing it in (good idea) and whether they will charge for storage/carving/plating.

Christmas may be a factor given that many corporations hold Christmas parties starting at the beginning of December. Be sure to look at floor plans to make sure that your reception can be entirely self-contained and you won't be bumping into people from other events.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:33 PM on May 9, 2009

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