Part II is coming at ya, and I’m extra excited for this one! When I was planning my wedding, I knew a hotel block was a must. Almost all of our 120 guests were driving and flying in from New York, and it was important to us that they got to experience the Pittsburgh we fell in love with.
After poking around and sending emails to a few contenders, one stood out to us: The Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown! I liked it because parking was free, breakfast was free, and it was only 15 mins away from our venue. I loved it because of two things: The location (the tail end of The Strip), and Samantha Lumadue, their sales manager!
Sam was so quick to respond, like every time, and I sent her WAY too many emails to count during my engagement. She was professional, helpful, and always happy to accommodate my requests, which included:
Adding extra rooms to my block past our deadline.
Accepting personalized welcome gifts and handing them out to my best friends.
Reserving their conference room for Sunday brunch less than a month out.
Politely telling me no, I cannot take photos on their rooftop. (Darnit!)
Basically, she is kick ass at her job, and not once did I stress out about the hotel block during the planning. Take it away, Sam!
What info do you need to reserve a block of rooms for a wedding?
Reserving a room block is quick and easy! I really only need to know 3 things:
1) The wedding date
2) How many nights your guests will be in town
3) A rough estimate on how many rooms the group may need
On average, how many rooms do your couples block off?
For us, the average wedding block is 20 rooms per night.
And how many of those get filled? Do you feel couples over estimate or under estimate?
Generally couples tend to overestimate the number of rooms needed. I would say the average wedding picks up about 70% of the rooms originally blocked. Try to keep in mind that some guests will stay with family, and others will stay with their favorite hotel chain in order to earn/use loyalty points.
How far in advance do you suggest couples block rooms?
I like to say that it is never too early to book! On any given weekend in Pittsburgh there can be a ton of different events that are planned months or even years in advance. Concerts, conventions, sporting events, etc. can all drastically affect a hotel’s availability which in turn affects the hotel’s ability to take a wedding block. It’s better to put a hold on your rooms as soon as possible.
Does your hotel offer any special perks for couples who block rooms?
When a couple books a room block with us they automatically receive a complimentary King Studio Suite for the night of the wedding. We then offer additional amenities such as champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, gift baskets, etc. These amenities are earned based on the number of room nights booked within the wedding block. So the more rooms that book the more goodies you get! (Planners note - Can confirm! We loved the goodies!)
Do many wedding guests book online or call?
Guests can always book with us either way, but online is the most popular option. We create a personalized reservation website for all of our groups. This website allows guests to book directly into the room block without having to call or enter any group codes. We give you a link to your personalized reservation website, and you can put that link on your wedding website to make things super easy for your guests.
Once you block off rooms, what are the next steps?
We want to make things easy, so you really don’t need to worry about anything once the block is set up! Just be sure to let your guests know how they can book their rooms, and when they need to book by. All groups have a 30 day reservation cut-off deadline. We do this to release you from any liability, but it does mean that your guests will have to make their reservations by that deadline.
If they’re doing welcome bags, what can couples do to make it easy for your team to distribute?
Welcome bags are always a fun way to thank your guests for making the trip to be there for your big day! I would try to resist the urge to personalize each gift bag (Planners note: I was guilt of this!)
Making the bags more or less the same without personalization makes things easier on you and the front desk staff. That being said, if you have a guest with a food allergy or dietary restriction, by all means personalize a bag for them. The hotel would be more than happy to see that the guest receives it!
What’s the most interesting/craziest/unique welcome bag you’ve seen?
We had a couple that once used personalized reusable tote bags with their names and wedding date on them. I thought that was really cute, and something that would definitely be reused by the guest. Another favorite was a couple that brewed their own beer, and they put a bottle in each bag with a cute wedding label.
Any other welcome bag life hacks?
Give your out of town guests a list of your favorite things to see and do in Pittsburgh! It gives them an idea of things that they can do in their down time, but it’s also a cute way to talk about the things that you love to do together as a couple. The welcome bag is also a great opportunity to give your guests an itinerary for the wedding day. Chances are they forgot that info at home, and providing it for them again means they won’t have to text you last minute on your wedding day.
What do you wish couples would realize about hotel room blocks/the process?
It’s so easy! I have couples say all the time that they were shocked how easy it was to set up their room block. I just need to ask a few questions, and then have you sign an agreement. After that you just need to tell guests where/how to book. We do the rest!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Our hotel will be undergoing a massive 4 million dollar renovation this coming January. We will be completely redoing all of the guest rooms and the lobby. Once completed the hotel will be updated with cutting edge technology and a fresh new look. The redesign will have a sort of Andy Warhol vibe as a tribute to him and the city itself. We hope to be done by the summer of 2020, so we invite you to stop by next summer to check out our new look!
To learn more about Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel Room Blocks, e-mail Sam at email@example.com!