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Etiquette

Is this a thing? Hotel Blocks

auriannaaurianna member
Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
edited June 2014 in Etiquette
So I was under the impression that couples reserved hotel blocks for these two reasons:
1. Guarantee the guests would have lodging near the wedding
2. To get the guests a special rate

I got an invitation in the mail and it gave two hotels. One was slightly more expensive but looked charming so my friends and I all decided to book there for $127 per night, for two nights.

So another friend of mine had to wait until the last minute to RSVP and book so the blocks and rate were already released. And I was contemplating letting her stay in the room with hubby and I since she's tight on money. I went to the hotel's website to find out how much she'd have to pay if she got one of their rooms, thinking I'd offer to share if it was too much.

And I discovered that it was $25 per night cheaper than the blocked rooms had been. Heck, a king suite was still a dollar less per night than our room with a double bed. (and this was still over 10 days before the wedding, so it wasn't even an "uber last minute, must fill the hotel" rate).

I was going to call but I got distracted last week so when I checked in I mentioned that the rates were now lower and could I please change to the new rate. I also mentioned that I was confused that the rate for the blocked rooms was higher.
The gal behind the counter looked at me like I had two heads.
She started trying to explain it but didn't make much sense. The one thing she said that was clear though was "Well the couple gets more depending on what gets booked in their block. I could change your rate but it might impact what they get." And I think she thought I was a bad person when I said, "That's fine. I'd like the new rate please."

Sorry... already paying several hundreds of dollars to fly to, sleep at and give present at this wedding. If I can save $50 I'm going to do it. I'm under the impression the block was for my convenience and not some mechanism to pay for the couple's future hotel stays.
I personally do not think the bride and groom were pushing the hotel into this; I honestly think they'd be happy their guests get the best rates possible. I highly doubt they know about the rate increase. But I get the impression that this hotel totally does this sort of thing to make more money and often times gets the couple involved so they can get their rooms paid for and such.

Also a little after I checked in, another friend of mine was in the lobby and heard two people behind the desk talking amongst themselves saying, "The wedding hotel blocks are more expensive than the regular rates. If someone asks you to change the rate you have to do it, but don't tell any guest that doesn't know about it."


I know it's a business. And I know they want to make money. But it seems so shady and I'm debating whether to tell the bride and groom about it because I think it would piss them off. Dunno.

Re: Is this a thing? Hotel Blocks

  • 16maybeless16maybeless member
    100 Comments 100 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited June 2014
    Hi! I work in the travel industry so maybe this will give you an answer.

    Hotel prices are largely based on inventory. If the hotel has lots of availability (e.g., unrented rooms), they may drop prices suddenly, especially as that target date draws near. They also do that to compete with the online travel retailers who specialize in discounted rooms; if too many people are booking through OTAs and not directly through the hotel, that could affect their profit margins, so they drop the price to compete. Some websites actually specialize in selling these last-minute, super discounted rooms.

    I imagine when your B + G locked into their hotel-block rate, the going hotel rate was higher at the time, and the block was a discount, or the hotel anticipated prices would rise.

    The same thing happened at our wedding, actually. Our rooms were available for $109-$129 per night per our block contract, but two of our guests were able to make a last-minute reservation the week before at only $99.

    The bride and groom may know. They may not. 

    You are free to ask at the front desk if they would drop your rate to the going rack rate rather than the hotel block, but they may not offer you a price cut. Our hotel was able to retroactively charge guests at the lower amount, which was nice. I don't know if they thought we'd point it out, but I did!

    Also, depending on the hotel, you may have a different room category or room type with the block than the cheaper rooms that are currently being offered. They could be the same category (e.g., King) but the hotel block may reserve rooms with better views (premium or deluxe King rooms), keep you on the same floor, or in a choice location of the hotel. For example, all the guests who reserved through our block were in the city-facing side; the guests who did not were on the lower floors at the rear of the building.

    Unfortunately, that's just hotel inventory. :-/ Shady? Can be. This is actually pretty common pricing for chain hotels, although they usually won't undercut a hotel-block charge. That's about as low as they'll discount, normally. It also shouldn't be dependent on how many guests use the block. That is unclear to me. As far as I know, the price of each guest's room shouldn't be dependent on how many guests book overall? That would be strange.
    KickAssMOHjaprincess24
  • I would be FURIOUS if a hotel pulled that kind of shit with my guests. Absolutely livid. That is so not the way hotel blocks are supposed to work. If you're close enough to the bride and groom, you should mention it so they can set the hotel straight/rip them a new one.

  • RebeccaFlowerRebeccaFlower member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2014
    This goes against basically everything I've heard about hotel blocks and wasn't how ours worked. We held ten rooms at a 25% discount, no money down and no charges if they didn't get used. There was also no perk to us, it was purely for our guests convenience. 

    Was this a hotel chain? If it's a mom & pop place, maybe they don't understand? I feel bad for the bride and groom, because I'm assuming that they didn't understand their policies. And if they did, they're jerks for making their guests pay more to pay for their hotel room. 


    PrettyGirlLostHauteRoxy
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Room blocks give guarantees a set amount of rooms.

    They often are given a discounted rate, but that doesn't equal best rate available from the time of the contract till your stay.    Like PP said, room rates are bases on inventory.   When they signed the contract for the block the discounted rate more than likely was the rate you first got.    Closer to the date if they have a lot of inventory they will drop the rate.  Rarely will there be in contracts that the block rates will drop if the lowest available drops.


    I would fire all the agents.   They had no right discussing the possible contract the B&G had.  Sometimes the planner does get breaks, better rooms, etc.  Sometimes they don't.  It's not your business.   Wedding blocks are not always more expensive anyway.   Different events have different contracts.   2 weddings parties staying the same weekend can have different rates.

    Bottom line is it's the gamble of staying at hotels with a block.   Sometimes they are to your benefit, others you might have gotten a better rate without the block.     However, if you wait for the lower rates you might find yourself without a room because the hotel is sold out.   Again gamble.  Are you willing to see if the rate drops or not?   Many brides have come on here crying their hotels have sold out before they could increase a block.   











    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    MairePoppyRosebubbly
  • lyndausvi said:
    Room blocks give guarantees a set amount of rooms.

    They often are given a discounted rate, but that doesn't equal best rate available from the time of the contract till your stay.    Like PP said, room rates are bases on inventory.   When they signed the contract for the block the discounted rate more than likely was the rate you first got.    Closer to the date if they have a lot of inventory they will drop the rate.  Rarely will there be in contracts that the block rates will drop if the lowest available drops.


    I would fire all the agents.   They had no right discussing the possible contract the B&G had.  Sometimes the planner does get breaks, better rooms, etc.  Sometimes they don't.  It's not your business.   Wedding blocks are not always more expensive anyway.   Different events have different contracts.   2 weddings parties staying the same weekend can have different rates.

    Bottom line is it's the gamble of staying at hotels with a block.   Sometimes they are to your benefit, others you might have gotten a better rate without the block.     However, if you wait for the lower rates you might find yourself without a room because the hotel is sold out.   Again gamble.  Are you willing to see if the rate drops or not?   Many brides have come on here crying their hotels have sold out before they could increase a block.   





    Right. A block does not guarantee you the lowest available room price. It just guarantees you a room, booked separately from the normal booking flow available to the public. E.g., it guarantees that no matter what happens with their inventory, you are still getting a room.

    It was always cheaper, for example, for guests of mine who were Starwood Preferred members to book with their SPG rate rather than my block rate. My dad booked his with SPG points. Similarly, I booked my own room with an IATA rate.
    ashleyep
  • auriannaaurianna member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited July 2014
    I'm surprised though that $127 per night was ever a discount. Because it was actually for a standard room. The rates online that were $25 cheaper were for a deluxe room. I think we ended up getting the standard room for the deluxe price since they only had standards, but at least we still saved $50.

    I know for our wedding we got them the $89 rate for rooms that are usually $150+.

    It's definitely a good eye opener. I always assumed hotels gave better rates as incentive to book with them so I just took the wedding rate for granted. In future I will always also check my company discount and travel websites first.

    Thanks for the inside skinny!
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Yea, our block gave a 20% discount on the standard rate. The only lower rate available for similar rooms to our block is through AAA, which most people we've invited don't have. And it's a $1 difference, so we're not stressing it. Since there are 2 other wedding parties booking at the same hotel, we wanted to make sure our guests would have a room if they wanted one.
    ~*~*~*~*~

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited July 2014
    My dad is very high Marriott's loyalty program. They book on points rather than a hotel block. One time the couple apparently were told IF a suite was AVAILABLE at the time of check-in they would be upgraded. So just by virtue of dad having a reservation he jumps to the top of the upgrade list. 

    Well sure enough, dad check-in a day or so before the couple and got the suite. Had my dad known the situation he would have declined the upgrade, but he didn't know until after. Because he booked on points, the hotel didn't know he was part of the wedding either.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • The thing about this hotel is that it isn't a chain. So I don't know what kind of loyalty discounts anyone would get...
  • I blocked rooms thru a chain as well . . no deposit or anything. It was awesome! They even set up a page with all of the hotel info, along with rental car code discounts and flight thingys (I don't fly, forgive me on that) . . . 

    So I linked that page to my wedding website, I also added the info for the less tech savvy folks.
  • My hotel has a higher price on the block than is online right now. I asked about it and they said it's on the low end of the average rates for the next 2 months. Also the online price is prepay and the block requires no deposit.

    I dont know how I feel about it. My dad arranged the block for me. I almost want to tell people to book outside of the block to get a better deal. We get no perks. I'm not even sure if we will be staying there ourselves.

  • I've seen room blocks work from both ends of the spectrum. For my wedding, we locked into a block at $229 per night, and the month prior to the wedding, standard rooms were booking at $400-499 per night. Actually, you couldn't even find another room in that area for under $300. SO, it worked out well for us and our guests. We received no benefit based on the amount of people who booked in our room block. For work, however, it has happened that I have secured block rates and my coworkers have found lower rates by using priceline, corporate discount codes, or just the standard rate that the hotel is suddenly offering on their website. It's happened more than once, and when that occurs, I contact my meeting planner at the hotel and discuss the matter directly with them.

    OP, if I were in your shoes, I would've snagged the lower rate as soon as I found out about it regardless of the potential benefit to the B&G, but I also might've notified the B&G and any others who were attending the wedding who I felt comfortable telling.  

  • I would also point out that some rates include things like breakfast, transportation to the reception, etc. that would then bump the price up from what you'd find online. That could also affect the price.
  • aurianna said:
    I'm surprised though that $127 per night was ever a discount. Because it was actually for a standard room. The rates online that were $25 cheaper were for a deluxe room. I think we ended up getting the standard room for the deluxe price since they only had standards, but at least we still saved $50.

    I know for our wedding we got them the $89 rate for rooms that are usually $150+.

    It's definitely a good eye opener. I always assumed hotels gave better rates as incentive to book with them so I just took the wedding rate for granted. In future I will always also check my company discount and travel websites first.

    Thanks for the inside skinny!
    It might not have been a discount. I don't think our rate was any cheaper than the regular rate. But it did guarantee you a room.
    Anniversary
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