You hear the familiar sound of the hotel elevator door open to the third floor where a portion of your family reunion is lodged.
As you meet with them, you realize that you left the camera in your room which is several floors above.
While it may not seem like a big deal initially, having to go up and down the elevator to visit family members on several floors will wear you down over the course of a weekend.
If only you had asked the hotel to block rooms for your family reunion on one floor.
Seasoned pros know how to block hotel rooms for a family reunion and we asked them to provide us their best tips.
Tips When Blocking Hotel Rooms
1- Get Group Hotel Rates
Blocking hotel rooms is a simple enough process. Because of the Internet, you don’t have to call hotels looking for group rates anymore. Fill out this simple group hotel rates form and hotels in your desired city will email you their rates. The average discount when you get group rates is over 20%. With additional negotiating prowess, you may be able to score a better discount.
2- Free Hotel Rooms
Did you know that hotels offer complimentary rooms to groups based on a ratio. This ratio is referred to as the comp ratio. For instance, if a hotel offers your family reunion a comp ratio of 1 to 20, then that means that for every twenty paid rooms, you can expect one for free.
The free room can be given to any one individual (Family reunion planner maybe) or can be used to lower everyone’s room rate. When blocking hotel rooms, make sure to ask about the comp ratio (If you use the form mentioned above, the comp ratio is automatically quoted when hotels email you their group rates).
3- Free Hospitality Suite/Meeting Room
If you’re planning a family reunion, you’ll do yourself a big disservice if you don’t ask about a complimentary hospitality suite. This room serves as the central hub where everyone meets, connects and plans their day. Most hotels will offer a free hospitality suite for a family reunion while some may charge a nominal amount. If you are getting hospitality suite, then make sure to ask the hotel if you can bring snacks and drinks from outside.
4- Free Breakfast
Block rooms at a hotel that offers a free full hot breakfast. The average cost of a full breakfast is around $10 per person. If you block rooms at a hotel that offers a free full breakfast, then your attendees can potentially save up to $40 room in breakfast costs. Hotel chains like best Western, Holiday Inn express, in Hampton inn offer particularly appetizing selections and offer reasonable group hotel rates.
5- How Many Hotel Rooms Do You Need To Block?
If you are blocking a small amount of rooms for your family reunion, you should ask for a courtesy room block. This kind of block does not require a deposit or a guarantee. If you are blocking more than 50 rooms, the hotel will require some kind of guarantee to “hold” them.
6- Free Shuttle to Airport, Train and Bus Stations
Many hotels will offer this service for a small fee but if your group is large enough, you can ask to have the charges waived.
7- Free Internet
Many of the pricier hotels still charge for internet. Forego these hotels for mid scale brands and the get WiFi for free. This saves about $15 per day per room.
8- Many Extended Stay and All Suite Hotels Have Kitchens
Eating out two or three times during the course of a family reunion is normal. However, eating out is expensive and takes away from budgets that may already be stretched. One way to eat out less is to block rooms in a hotel that offers kitchens. Not only is it cheaper to cook for the entire family, it also creates bonding time where recipes can be shared and memories created. Homewood suites by Hilton hotels offers rooms with full kitchens and enough space for a family of four in every room.
9- Welcome Gift Bags
Will the hotel handle the delivery of the welcome gift bags for free? Many hotels offer the service and will gladly take your welcome gift bags the day before the family reunion and distribute them to attendees at check in. Keep in mind that some hotels may charge for this. If they do, try to get this waived.
10- Connecting rooms
Connecting rooms are a requirement for family reunions. Make sure to ask the hotel if they have can guarantee them. There is nothing worse than a couple having to sleep in separate rooms with their kids because the family reunion planner did not have the foresight to request connecting rooms.
11- Rooms On The Same Floor
As we mentioned earlier, there are tremendous advantages to blocking hotel rooms on the same floor. Kids can hang out and go room to room without worrying about taking elevators, and adults can visit relatives with ease. Most hotels have the ability to block rooms on a specific floor so take advantage of it by asking.
Many hotels will put up your family name on the Marquee for free. You just have to ask. Wouldn’t it be nice to drive up to the hotel with the marquee lit up welcoming your family (e.g. “Welcome Williams Family Reunion”)
13- Take Advantage of Size
If you’re having a large family reunion, your bargaining power is considerable so make sure you don’t jump at the first offer. Continue to stress the large number of hotel rooms needed and you should be able to get some great concession from the hotel of your choice.
14- Go Midscale
While it may not always be the case, we have noticed that mid scale hotels are more malleable than higher end ones when it comes to negotiating for the items listed above. Higher end hotels have quite a bit of corporate business to keep them busy whereas budget hotels don’t generally have the amenities that a family reunion will require. Stick to brands like Hyatt Place, Best Western, and even Homewood Suites for great breakfast and reasonable group hotel rates.
Use the tips above to help you compare offers from various hotels. While a hotel may be expensive on overall room rate, it may offer tangible and intangible amenities that lower the overall cost of the family reunion for everyone. We hope the advice above will prove to be beneficial for when you are planning to block hotel rooms.
And if nothing else, at least your family members will spend less time in the elevator.
What should you do next?
Block hotel rooms for your family reunion by getting group rates today. Remember that hotel rates go up as your reunion dates get closer so get started now. It’s free so you’ve got nothing to lose.