Q: I’m having a destination wedding in the Caribbean and I want to reserve some hotel room blocks for my guests. But, the hotel where the wedding will be at is not large enough for all my guests. So, I’ve been looking into other small nearby hotels. But, this is my problem. I’d like certain people to stay at certain hotels because I think it will just be more fun and allow the partiers to party and the families to be with other families. But, is it ok to designate where people will stay? And if so, how do I handle that?
Hotel room blocks can be very tricky and this is such a great question. There are a lot of variables when it comes to hotel room blocks. You have to figure out how many rooms to get, where to book the rooms, and if you should reserve rooms at all.
For most couples, you’ll end up either picking a few hotels at different price points or booking a block of rooms at your wedding hotel. But, for anyone having a destination wedding somewhere where there either isn’t a large hotel or the large hotel isn’t affordable for most, using multiple properties to house your guests is where you’ll end up.
Usually once you get the hotel room blocks, you’d then let people just choose where they want to stay. Which by the way, is easiest thing to do. But, I understand why you’re trying to designate where people stay. Because the hotels are small properties, buying it out and having similar groups of people staying together will be more fun. As a guest, I’m sure I’d have more fun.
So, your thinking is very well intentioned. But, there are some issues you may run into by designating hotel room blocks.
4 potential issues from designating hotel room blocks
(Photo credit: What a Day! Photography)
1. Price Points
Unless all the hotels are the same price or at a similar price point (which is unlikely), you may run into some issues with price. Some guests may not want to stay at XYZ hotel because it’s more expensive. Or on the flipside, they may not want to stay there because it’s not as nice as ABC hotel. By designating which hotel your guest is staying at they may not be happy with your designation. Which leads to…
2. Lack of Choice
Some people love just being told what to do and not having to do any research. It requires no thinking and for some, that’s just perfect. But, for many people they like having a choice. And having the ability to choose where they stay and where they spend their money. By designating hotels, you don’t give them a choice which can also result in them being unhappy.
3. Feeling Left Out
Depending on how perfect the numbers work out, you may also have a situation where a guest feels left out. They may not care so much about where they’re staying, but who they are staying with. And you may have a guest who wishes they were at XYZ hotel because that is where most of your friends are staying.
4. Going on Their Own
If your guests are unhappy with your hotel designation, your plan may backfire. And your guests may ignore what you’ve designated and go rogue and stay at ABC hotel when you told them to stay at XYZ hotel. This could screw up your numbers and designations. Or they may end up staying somewhere completely different. And this could hurt your room block requirements.
Now, I don’t mean to scare you. I still think your idea is a good one. It’s just a matter of knowing what could happen so that you’re prepared and can make a decision on what works for you. And then if you go for it, you can do your best to plan for all those scenarios.
So, let’s assume you do want to designate hotels to your guests. Here are my recommendations to handle it.
4 tips to designate hotel room blocks
(Photo credit: Day 7 Photography)
1. Don’t go Overboard on the Hotel Room Blocks
First off, I wouldn’t reserve a hotel room for everyone. Because you don’t yet know exactly who is coming. And there will always be people who will do their own thing no matter what. Because most hotel room blocks have a financial guarantee, this can hurt you.
So, I’d reserve hotel room blocks for the people who you know 100% or 99% will be coming and thus will need a room. This is likely going to be a much smaller number than the total number of people you’re inviting and also smaller than the total number of people who you expect will come.
If you’re 99-100% number is really small and you’re worried about your other guests being able to find somewhere to stay, you can consider increasing your room block at one of your hotels. Or you can get another small block somewhere else to cover some (but not all) of your other guests.
You can’t plan for everyone, that’s just unrealistic. But, you can plan for what you think makes sense and then let everyone else figure it out for themselves.
2. Split People by Clear Designations, Habits and Prices
Once you have the people you’re planning for, then you want think about what they’d likely do. And then split them up in a way that is natural.
So, imagine you’re them. Make your best guess on where they’d want to stay and who they’d want to be with. Think about price and what you think they’d want to spend. You obviously don’t 100% know, but you’re making your best guess here.
Think about their habits. Are they always staying at 4 star hotels? Then they likely will want to stay somewhere similar. Are they Airbnb people? Then they’re going to do their own thing anyway. Do they always stay at the cheapest place? Do they need somewhere with a kitchen because their kid has food allergies? Think about what you know of them and their habits and make your best guess.
Then draw some clear lines based off your guesses. You want these to be obvious and make sense. For example, your family would likely want to stay with your other family members. Perhaps not, but it’s likely. Your friends will likely want to stay together. If there is anyone who is ambiguous, leave some wiggle room for them.
3. Talk to Your Designated Guests
Like with anything else, if you’re not sure and you need more information, just ask! Talk to your designated guests (which are likely also the people you’re closest to) and find out if they’d like to be with this group or if the price point is ok. Get a feel for their thoughts and opinions. This can help direct you.
Now, word to the wise, don’t go asking everyone. Just ask those who you feel comfortable asking and who know your group of guests and would give you an honest opinion.
And then once you’ve made your designations, make sure you tell your designated guests where you’ve reserved them a spot. This will get them to reserve their actual room if they’re on board. And if they aren’t, they may be able to tell you now so that you have time to adjust and allow for non-designated guests to stay in their place.
4. Let Your Guests Know What Their Options Are
And then for your guests who you either aren’t sure are attending or aren’t designating a spot for, let them know what their options are. If you’re reserving all the rooms at the hotel where your wedding is at and those are all designated, let them know that so they won’t try to book there.
Perhaps there are still additional rooms at XYZ hotel outside of your room block and that would be a good place for younger friends or older family. There may be a few more small hotels or villas or a luxury hotel nearby that your guests may be interested in.
Let them know what some of their options are and what you recommend and then let them do their thing. Remember, you can’t plan for everyone. But, you want to give people the info they need and help them as much as possible.
Designating hotel rooms can be a great way to ensure your guests mingle and have fun together. But, it is trickier and can cause some issues and potentially unhappy guests. Make sure you keep these 4 issues and tips in mind and make the decision that is right for you and your wedding.
And of course if you need help, you can always contact us and we’ll make this process easier for you.
(Photo credit: McAllister Photography)