Room Block Management: The Ultimate GuidePatricia Driscoll |
Managing room blocks isn’t an easy task–and it can be particularly challenging while handling all the other responsibilities that go into event housing management.
Whether you’re an experienced event producer or a beginner in the hospitality field, efficient room block management is crucial for you and your event’s success. This guide will review how it works, what it entails, and some best practices for the most efficient room block management.
What is Room Block Management?
A “room block” or “group block” is a group of hotel rooms that are set aside or held for a group to book. The hotel reserves these rooms and ensures that your attendees have a place to stay during the event.
Hotels usually offer discounted rates for large groups and room blocks. The event producer will speak with and negotiate with hotels on behalf of the attendees to find the best room rates.
But it doesn’t stop after booking the room block. The event producer must also monitor subblocks and pick-up rates, adjust the room block size when needed, make sure attendees can easily book the room block, and much more–all while staying compliant with local event requirements and tracking economic impact.
How Do Hotel Room Blocks Work for Events?
Room blocks are used at hotels or other lodgings when planning sports tournaments, conferences, weddings, music festivals or other large gatherings where many attendees will need accommodation. When setting up a hotel room block, the event producer will contact a hotel and book the room block for the event.
Attendees can then book rooms either:
- Through your event website: Ideally, attendees can book rooms through a link to the room block that you can provide them. This makes it easier to track room block availability and manage your commissions.
- Or by contacting the hotel directly: If the hotel provides a room block code, make sure to share this with attendees so they can use the code when booking. This way, attendees get the booking discount and you get the credit for bringing them into the hotel.
Are Hotel Blocks Necessary?
Room blocks aren't 100% necessary but if you're managing a larger group, they can make the entire room reservation process much easier. Plus, they 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.
What to Know About Room Block Management
Room block management has a lot of moving parts, but it can be simplified with the right tools. Here’s some information to know before you get started.
How to Contact Group Hotel Rooms
You can call or email any hotel and speak with their sales department about setting up a room block for your event. But before you start your outreach, make sure you have all the information confirmed. The hotel will need the following when you start the room-blocking process:
- The event name
- Your contact information for billing and contract signing
- The total number of rooms you'll need
- The room types
- Dates and time
- The event type (weddings, conferences, etc)
- Conference or meeting space, if the event will be hosted at the hotel as well
Once you’ve called and come to an agreement with the hotel representative, you’ll have to sign a contract for the room block. The contracts confirm that the rooms are blocked and may have clauses requiring you to sell a certain number of rooms. This is called an attrition clause, and if your contract has one you can be liable for the cost of some or all of the rooms, so pay close attention to this.
This can be a lot, so it’s important to have a software solution like EventPipe to simplify and streamline the entire event housing management process. This will allow you to easily:
- Select from thousands of hotels and filter them by room type, location, and amenities
- Have all your group block and reservation information in one place
- View and manage information for multiple hotels using one login
- Contact and negotiate rates and rooms with the hotel of your choice
- Add a reservation management link on your customizable event website to drive traffic and make it easy for your guests to find and book
- Track hotel cut-off dates and confirmation statuses of all your events’ reservations
- Give your guests a chance to get the hotel they want by allowing them to get on a waitlist for sold-out hotels
- Designate a group block manager
- And much more!
Who Pays for the Rooms in Hotel Blocks?
Generally, event attendees pay for the rooms they book through the room block. However, in some cases, larger corporations may be covering the hotel stay for the event attendees. In that case, the business may have paid for rooms in advance or attendees get reimbursed later.
How Much Does It Cost to Reserve a Block of Hotel Rooms?
Hotel room block costs vary depending on the hotel, room block size, room type, amenities included, and more. No matter the size of the event, the event producer will be negotiating with hotels to find the best rates and prices.
You may also want to request a courtesy room block. In this case, your group of rooms is reserved until a specific cut-off date, often 30 days before check-in. On this date, any rooms in your room block that haven't been booked are returned to the hotel's available stock, with no financial liability on your part.
Tips for Improved Room Block Management
Here are a few tips to help you improve your room block oversight process before your next event.
1. Start Early
The more time you give yourself to research hotels and negotiate rates, the more success you'll have finding great location options and prices for your attendees.
2. Estimate Rooms Needed
Before booking the rooms, you should roughly know how many you’ll need. Depending on the event's size, you may need to book rooms at multiple hotels instead of just one.
Be realistic when asking for rooms from hotels. It's better not to have enough rooms than too many. If you have too many rooms, you might have to pay out of pocket for vacant rooms during the event.
If you’ve been using event housing management software, you can check to see the performance of your prior year’s events to get a gauge on how an event has performed historically.
3. Use Event Housing Management Software
Event housing management software streamlines the entire housing process for event planners and attendees. Instead of doing everything manually, event housing management software provides you with all the tools you need to find hotels, handle documentation, communicate with hotels and attendees, offer analytics, and more, depending on the software provider.
If you're looking for a platform dedicated to helping you find and block hotels, choose EventPipe. EventPipe’s modern, end-to-end housing management software helps event planners like you find housing and hotels for events.
In addition to room block management, EventPipe allows you to:
- Build a customizable, no-code event website in less than 10 minutes
- Create new additional revenue opportunities with transaction fees, services, ticketing, merchandise sales, and more
- 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
Group block planning with the EventPipe platform.
Room block management is complex, but you don't have to do it alone! Let us help you find the best hotels for your next event.
4. Negotiate Hotel Block Rates
After you send out your hotel block requests, prepare to negotiate for the best rates for your group. If you aren’t able to negotiate rates, you may be able to add in additional amenities like breakfasts or late checkouts.
To automate the outreach and negotiation process, consider using event management software. These tools, like EventPipe, simplify the RFP process by connecting planners to hotels for requests, proposals, and negotiations all on one end-to-end platform.
Event producers can negotiate and accept proposals from their account, pick and choose the hotels they want proposals from, and request nights, rooms, concessions, and more.
5. Promote & Share Your Room Block
Event website made through EventPipe
Communicate with your attendees about their room block options as far in advance as possible. Make sure to add the link to the booking site and pertinent room block information (hotel names, contact information, booking codes, etc.) on the event website or through other communication channels.
However, note that some attendees may book their hotel rooms outside of the block. Get ahead of this by discussing this with your hotel partners and adding any stipulations to your booking contract. You should receive credit for all event guests booking at that hotel–even if some attendees accidentally booked their room through other channels.
Also, be sure to monitor your room block regularly. Check to see if all the attendees have booked their rooms and anything they would need during their stay. Then and only then should you release any vacant rooms. You won't be penalized for being vacant if you release a room.
6. Analyze & Track Results
Analyzing and tracking event performance is a must for an event producer. The insights and data of your performances can be leveraged and help you improve your overall housing strategy for your next major event.
With EventPipe, our software can give you detailed reports about pick-up rates, hotel cut-off dates, event confirmation statuses, and commission and rebate revenue. You can also view previous attendees' reservations and booking histories to better prepare for the next year.
Correctly monitoring pacing/pick-up rates can help you effectively ask for more inventory where you need it–and can also allow you to give inventory back to hotels if it looks like the block won't be filled. This not only prevents you from being financially liable for empty rooms but also helps preserve your relationship with the hotels you’re working with.
Of course, when there are cancellations, this can get even more complicated. Fortunately, EventPipe makes it easy to charge cancellation fees that can vary depending on how far out the event is.
Optimize Your Room Block Management
Room block management isn’t a straightforward process. You may be managing room blocks across multiple events, keeping track of multiple RFPs at various stages, managing compliance for each event, collecting rebates or commissions following each event…and much, much more.
While we’ve given you some tips that can help you better manage your room blocks in the future, you can make your life even easier by using EventPipe.
Our end-to-end event housing management platform 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.