Hotel Blocks: What They Are & Top Tips for Booking Rebekah Bryant |
Researching, booking, and managing hotel blocks is one of the best ways to ensure a successful event. Hotel blocks are a practical way to secure accommodations for your event attendees, especially in peak travel periods or high-demand areas.
It’s up to you, as the event producer, to choose the right hotels, reserve an accurate number of rooms, provide the right booking information…plus everything else that goes into event housing management.
We get it: that can be overwhelming. But don't fret: this blog post will cover exactly how to negotiate, book and manage your hotel blocks so that event attendees, hotels, and event hosts have the best stay.
What are Hotel Blocks?
A hotel block is a reserved number of rooms set aside for a specific event. These rooms are saved for guests of the event, who can then book them for a discounted rate.
Event producers often reach out to the hotels for their availability, negotiate a room rate, and then the hotel guarantees rooms for a certain number of reservations. The event producer will then share a link or a code with the event attendees, who can then book their discounted room.
But, the process doesn’t end there. Event producers must also track hotel cut-off dates, pick-up rates, and confirmation statuses and release any vacant rooms so the event doesn’t get charged. Lastly, event producers must ensure guests have all their needs covered for the event.
Who Uses Hotel Blocks?
Hotel blocks are ideal for any large group traveling to a destination. Weddings are a very common example, but other popular use cases are sports tournaments, music festivals, or business conferences.
Whatever the use case, hotel blocks provide financial advantages for everyone involved. Hotel rates are often lower, hotels get guaranteed guests, and event producers gain revenue opportunities through commissions and rebates.
How to Book a Hotel Block
1. Determine Your Room Block Needs
How many attendees are going to your event? Will they all need individual rooms? Will you need multiple hotels to accommodate all your guests?
You’ll need to answer these questions–and more–when you’re determining the size of your hotel room blocks and how many you need. Since smaller hotels can usually host 10 to 30 rooms per block, you may need to work with multiple hotels or larger hotels to fit all your guests.
2. Research Hotel Options
Even though hotels generally provide the same services, the details may look very different. You’ll of course want to look at hotel room prices, but also consider:
- Proximity to the event
- Services and amenities they offer
- Various room and bed options
Experts recommend calling at least 3 to 5 different hotels to find the most affordable hotel room rate. Make sure to understand your attendees’ budget before making any final decisions.
Hotels don’t always provide block reservation information online, so you may have to reach out and ask them about their room block options and pricing.
3. Contact Hotels with Your Hotel Block Request
EventPipe’s event housing management software for hotel block management.
Once you have some great hotel and room options lined up, it’s time to send your hotel block requests. Make sure to include the number of rooms you need, the dates you need them, any amenities you’re looking for, and the discount you’re aiming for.
This is a good time to mention any other special requests for accommodations your attendees will need. You may also want to request a courtesy block, which doesn’t hold the event financially liable for any of the hotel rooms.
There’s usually room for negotiating regarding room block prices, depending on how many rooms you need. Make sure to conduct some research beforehand to determine your options, and come prepared with what prices other hotels are offering.
If you can’t negotiate a desired price, you may be able to add in special services, late checkouts and early check-ins, or extras like free breakfasts.
Pro tip: Know that some of your attendees may accidentally book rooms outside of the hotel block. Add stipulations to your booking contract so you can receive credit for all event guests booking at that hotel–even if they book through other channels.
5. Sign a Contract
When you request a group block for your event, you’ll want to sign a contract for the safety of both your event and the hotel. The contracts confirm that rooms are booked and have clauses requiring you to sell a certain number of rooms–and that the hotel will have the rooms available.
Make sure the contract includes:
- The event name
- Your contact information
- The total number of rooms needed
- Dates and times of the event
- The room types
- Conference or meeting spaces needed, if the event will be hosted at the hotel as well
6. Share the Hotel Block Information
Once your hotel block is finalized, you need to share the booking options with your event attendees. Add the booking link or event code to the event’s website and send booking information to your email list or via text.
Make sure the guests know exactly where the hotels are located, what the room options are, and how they can book through the room block.
Best Practices for Booking a Hotel Room Block
Research, negotiating, booking, tracking…it’s a lot, but managing hotel blocks can be a lot easier with these top tips.
Use Event Housing Management Software
One of the best ways to simplify hotel room block booking and management is with event housing management software.
EventPipe, a modern event housing management platform, provides you with all the tools you need to find hotel options, submit hotel RFPs, easily communicate with hotels and attendees, and monitor your hotel block.
EventPipe allows you to:
- Simplify the RFP process by connecting event producers to hotels for requests, proposals, and negotiations
- Provide your hotel partners with a hotel portal where they can review your request and respond
- Capture attendee booking history and streamline the process for booking the following year
- Give your guests a chance to get the hotel they want by allowing them to get on a waitlist for sold-out hotels
- Build a customizable, no-code event website where you can share your hotel block link or discount code
- Charge cancellation fees that can vary depending on how far out the event is
- Access detailed reports about pick-up rates, hotel cut-off dates, event confirmation statuses, and commission and rebate revenue
Hotel block management on the EventPipe platform.
Hotel blocks can be complex, but you don't have to do it alone!
Evaluate What the Event Needs
The hotels you choose will depend on the event you’re hosting. Is it a youth sports tournament with lots of children? Look for affordable, kid-friendly hotel options that are close to the event venue. Or is it a wedding for attendees with a range of budgets? You may want to book a variety of hotel blocks.
Know your event, know your attendees, and know the hotel–ideally before research and definitely before signing any contracts!
Start Outreach Early
No matter the kind of event you are planning, try to book the hotel block as soon as possible during the planning process. If this is an event you’ve hosted multiple times, use past data to determine how many rooms and hotels you’ll need. If you’ve never hosted it before, conduct some market research on your turnout so you can make solid predictions.
Experts recommend booking hotel blocks as early as a year in advance or at least eight months early. This helps guarantee you have lots of hotel options that can fit your event needs.
This also applies to your guests: encourage them to book through the hotel block as soon as possible so they can get their top hotel and room choices.
Streamline the Booking Experience
Event booking site made through EventPipe
Booking a group block is just one part of the process. You also need to make sure the booking experience is smooth and simple.
One of the best ways to do this is when using a software provider like EventPipe. EventPipe allows you to create a customized event website in less than 10 minutes that will wow your attendees. It also ensures your site is mobile-friendly, which is critical because 70% of event hotel bookings are made on phones!
Finally, provide your attendees with instructions and a unique booking link so they can get their discounted hotel room. Attendees can easily view and manage their reservations after booking or even join a waitlist for sold-out hotels.
Manage Your Room Blocks
Check to see if all the attendees are booking their rooms without any issues and have everything they need for their stay. Then–and only then–you can release any vacant rooms so you’re not penalized for an empty hotel.
EventPipe makes this easy by allowing you to designate a group block manager. Live access to your reservation data and inventory helps you make quick event planning decisions and reduces instances of overbooking.
You can also monitor pick-up rates from your room types and subblocks so you can adjust your block size as needed. Correctly monitoring pacing/pick-up rates means you can ask for more inventory where you need it and give any inventory back if it looks like the hotel block won't be filled. This helps preserve your relationship with the hotels you’re working with and can reduce financial liability on your end.
Cancellations can also make room block management complicated. EventPipe makes it simple to charge varying cancellation fees based on how far away the event is.
Hotel blocks can drive revenue for your event. With discounted hotel rates, you can get more attendees. You may also be able to earn commission or transaction fees through hotel room booking, by advertising on your booking site, offering VIP packages through hotels, extra amenities, and more.
EventPipe allows you to add these revenue opportunities to your custom booking site so you can start realizing revenue right away–not after the event is over.
More About Hotel Room Blocks
Who Pays for Hotel Blocks?
The most common arrangement is that the person staying in the room is the one who pays for it. In some cases, event producers may pay for the rooms in advance, but then the attendees will pay them back. Or, attendees may pay for their rooms and be reimbursed later.
How Much Does It Cost to Reserve a Block of Hotel Rooms?
It doesn’t cost anything to reserve a block of hotel rooms. Rather, when you reserve a block of hotel rooms, you should expect to get a significant discount. In most cases, you want to see at least a $40 to $50 difference in the rate per room per night.
Because of this discount, reserving group blocks is more affordable than reserving individual hotel rooms. It also benefits the hotels: they get guaranteed bookings for dozens of rooms, as well as any additional charges from event stays, such as meals, snacks, movies and more.
How Many Rooms Should You Block for a Wedding?
Another common question people have is how many rooms they need to reserve for a wedding. The reality is that there is no simple answer to this since every wedding is going to have a different guest list.
The best way to determine how many rooms are needed is to understand how many guests are traveling for the event. This provides the most accurate way of estimating how many rooms you need to book so that everyone has space.
Keep in mind that it is always better to have more rooms than you need since people can spread out more comfortably. If you need more rooms, you are at the mercy of the hotel and whether or not they have any rooms available at the last minute. It can also be helpful to suggest additional hotel options in case your hotel block gets completely booked.
Make Hotel Block Booking Simple
Planning an event involves a lot of moving pieces that you have to keep track of. Finding the right hotel and booking a hotel block is just one part of this job that allows the event to run smoothly.
The most efficient way to do this is through an event housing management platform like EventPipe. EventPipe’s cloud-based software solution streamlines all your operations–from RFP management to inventory management to invoicing–so you can maximize your revenue streams and have peace of mind your event housing will be a success.
Whether you’re planning youth sports tournaments, conferences, weddings, or music festivals, EventPipe will always have your back.