Welcome to Part II!
On the mornings of weddings, my team and I are ‘on call’ for our clients and I personally check in with them to make sure hair and makeup are going smoothly in the bridal suite, deliver coffee or breakfast, and confirm the groomsmen are showered with pants on in time for the photographer.
I love wedding mornings. To me, it’s like gearing up for a big performance, and I feed off those moments of anticipation and excitement as my couples prepare for their ceremony. What we do today will be remembered for a lifetime!
I’m sharing all of this because I get a unique perspective of where these wedding mornings happen: The hotel! I have to be honest…none have left more of an impression on me than Hotel Monaco.
Hotel Monaco doesn’t just look cool, it feels cool. Their lobby is a tight squeeze of organized chaos, and the reception desk, bell hops, and valet team look balletic as they keep everyone flowing to their destination.
Last month, I tried out this new, scary thing called ~delegation,~ and while my team was setting up the wedding, I found myself in Hotel Monaco’s lobby with time to kill before my bride’s shuttle arrived. That’s when I met Abby Perrone, the Group Sales Manager at Hotel Monaco! She was cool enough to answer some questions for me. Take it away, Abby!
What info do you need to reserve a block of rooms for a wedding?
At Hotel Monaco, we love to learn about the wedding weekend as a whole to see where we fit in for couples and their guests and how we can best fulfill their needs when it comes to accommodations! I’ll ask for the details about the location of the ceremony and reception, number of guests attending the wedding, and dive into some aspects about out of town vs. local guests. It’s good to come into the conversation with a rough estimate of how many guest rooms will be needed from the hotel to get the conversation started.
On average, how many rooms do your couples block off?
Most couples block around 15 rooms for the night of the wedding and 5-10 for the night prior, as less guests need rooms the night before.
And how many of those get filled? Do you feel couples over estimate or under estimate?
Each room block, like each wedding, is unique. I find that the couples that stay in touch about the room block through the months leading up to the wedding tend to have a higher number of rooms filled, simply because it is on their radar and they are communicating hotel information with their guests on a more frequent basis. Over estimating is common, but that’s where I come into play. I talk through all the aspects that go into the number of rooms needed to ensure the room block is setup in their favor!
How far in advance do you suggest couples block rooms?
8-12 months out is ideal. Sooner is always better before rates start going up!
Does your hotel offer any special perks for couples who block rooms?
We offer a number of perks, which are based on how many rooms are ultimately reserved by wedding guests in each block. The more rooms booked, the more perks offered. We love that couples want to send their guests our way and want to thank them for doing so!
Do many wedding guests book online or call?
It’s really a mixture of both! I think younger generations find it easier to book directly through the website while parents and grandparents really value talking to someone on the phone that can answer any additional questions they have when booking, such as things about the hotel, parking, local recommendations if they are from out of town, or to make special requests!
What’s the most common question you get from couples looking for a room block?
For most couples, room blocks are a foreign concept (they definitely were for me when I needed one for my wedding!). They want to know how many rooms they should block off and want my opinion. I’ve been doing this going on 3 years and will happily share all my tips and tricks with couples to talk through the best options.
Once you block off rooms, what are the next steps?
#1, make sure the bride and groom have their rooms booked. They are top priority and can sometimes forget about themselves! They need a good night’s rest the night before!
At Hotel Monaco, we provide a personalized link that goes directly to the room block rates, and also instructions for calling our reservation department. Put all that information on a wedding website, as guests will check it out, I promise! Adding the hotel number to a “Save The Date” or sending the accommodation information as an insert with the formal invitation always helps.
I always encourage the couple to have their wedding party and immediate family book their rooms first. Those are the people who know they are coming and don’t need a formal invite. Once those rooms have booked, its much easier to take a look at the remaining rooms in the block and have a better understanding of who else is out there that needs a room! If the couple is waiting to communicate all the details with the formal invite only, guests tend to wait until the last minute to book their rooms. Just like with booking vendors, the earlier the better is the same with rooms!
If they’re doing welcome bags, what can couples do to make it easy for your team to distribute?
We love the idea of welcome bags! Keep them uniform so any bag can go to any guest. Be sure to provide a list of guests that the bags are being delivered to with the full first and last name. Room reservations will be booked under legal names and we may not know who Uncle Bill is- we want to ensure he gets his bag too!
What’s the most interesting/craziest/unique welcome bag you’ve seen?
We’ve had monogrammed totes (super cute), bags with terrible towels (Go Steelers!) and even some hand drawn itinerary cards with top places to visit in Pittsburgh for those visiting from out of town.
Any other welcome bag life hacks?
Bring a couple extra to the hotel, as I’ve seen extra guests book last minute and not everyone got one.
Are there any perks many couples don’t take advantage of with hotel room blocks?
Often times, hotels will add more rooms on once the initial room block is full or mostly full. The later you wait to add rooms, the less of a likelihood there is that additional rooms will be available, which is why its so important to have guests book early.
Tell me about a time you/your staff “went the extra mile” for a couple or wedding guest.
One time we had the bride’s father forget his bow-tie and the shuttle to pick them up to go to the ceremony was outside. Our bellman went to Burlington to purchase a bow tie that went with the wedding colors. The bellman returned just in time so that the bride’s father could be fully dressed for the wedding!
What do you wish couples would realize about hotel room blocks/the process?
When couples book more than 2 hotel blocks, it spreads the guests out. Part of the wedding weekend fun is connecting with everyone and being able to have a “home base” hotel is more important than you think. My sister recently got married and being able to have the whole family just an elevator ride away made life easier that weekend!
It’s a key part of the wedding planning process and can be a very simple one! Rates, like flights, have varying prices that fluctuate based on the time of year and how busy the city is. Like a wedding venue, it’s important for the couple to choose a hotel that and will take care of their guests.
Any final words of wisdom?
Couples: you have enough to do for the wedding! Don’t have relatives or your wedding party ask you to make their reservations. Everyone has different needs when it comes to booking a room. It’s always best if the person staying at the hotel, is the one making their own reservation!
Learn more about Hotel Monaco’s wedding blocks, and pick Abby’s brain: Abigail.Perrone@hotelmonaco.com.