Doing so involves getting group hotel rates, comparing rates/amenities, narrowing your choices, and then conducting a hotel site inspection to finalize.
In order to conduct a thorough site inspection, you will need to go through each hotel and ask the questions we have listed below.
In order to make things easier, we have created a wedding hotel inspection checklist that you can print out and take with you.
Here are the six key components that you should be thinking about when you visit each hotel. Some of them involve research that you should have done before getting to the hotel.
The location is one of the most important considerations when selecting hotels. Questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I want the hotel to be downtown, near the wedding venue or near the house? Or in the middle of all three?
- What is the distance to the airport?
- Would wedding guests feel comfortable going for a walk in the surrounding area?
- What are some nearby activities for out of town wedding guests?
- Is the hotel located near attractions, entertainment, nightlife, and restaurants? What kinds of things are within walking distance?
A lot of these things can be researched ahead of time but we would still recommend going for a short walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for everything yourself.
In fact, we would recommend eating at a nearby restaurant so you have a place to potentially recommend to your guests. While at the restaurant, you can also ask the employees of what they know about the hotel in terms of reputation, and service. You’d be surprised at the kind of information they may have.
Download the checklist mentioned above and use it to mark off all the deficiencies you note along the way.
Your main focus should be on the rooms, lobby, hallways, breakfast area and the parking lot.
Take a look at the hotel from your guest’s perspective? Are the rooms clean and well maintained? Does the room have a tired appearance? How clean are the bathrooms? Is there a lot of dust everywhere?
Hallways, Lobby, and other public areas
Are the hallways, lobby and parking lot clean and well maintained? Does the place look like it is maintained regularly? Look at the light fixtures for cobwebs. Look at ceiling tiles for water damage, and look at the baseboards to see how long it’s been since they last did a deep clean of the place.
Is the parking lot in good shape? Are there any potholes that the hotel has neglected to fill? How clean is the lot? Is there a lot of debris all over the place? Are last falls leaves still lying about in the bushes or have they been raked out?
While you are in the parking lot, look at the hotel shuttle too. Is it in good shape? Does it have the appropriate signage? Has it been washed recently? Peek inside to see the floor of the van. When was the last time it was vacuumed?
If the location is the door lock, then the staff is the key.
They go hand in hand when selecting a hotel for wedding guests.
When conducting the site inspection, look to see how friendly the staff is. Do the housekeepers make eye contact and say hello as you walk by? Do the employees look happy to be there or just blah? Is everyone in uniform?
Aside from the line level staff, you should also keep notes on how your relationship is with the hotel sales manager. Did he/she escort you during the site inspection or were you sent with someone else? Did the general manager stop by to see how the site inspection was going?
Consider all the above to determine the friendliness of the staff at the hotel. Remember that these are the same people that your wedding guests will be dealing with when they check in.
Questions you should ask in relation to hotel amenities are the following:
- Does the hotel offer a free shuttle to the airport?
- Is there a free breakfast? If so, is it a full hot breakfast or continental? If there is a cost, then can it be waived for your room block? Here is a list of the most popular amenities for wedding room blocks.
- Will the hotel offer free transportation to the wedding venue as part of the wedding room block?
- Will early check in be available? Many of your guests will arrive on the day of your wedding and will expect to check in well before the actual check in time. Will the hotel accommodate early check-ins if rooms are available?
- Does the room have a microwave, a fridge, a makeup mirror, hair dryer, and an iron and board? Your guests will need these things during the course of their stay.
- Will the hotel hand out wedding gift bags at check in? If so, make sure you add a wedding agenda, and directions to all the events for the weekend. Be specific about whether the hotel will be providing shuttle service or if people will have to make their own arrangements. For a list of contents for a wedding gift bag, click here.
- Can the restaurant/lounge stay open later than the normal for an after party? Is there a certain dollar amount that has to be guaranteed in order to accommodate this?
- Is WiFi free?
Have you looked at Tripadvisor to see what others have to say about the hotel? Another good source of hotel reviews is websites like Expedia, and Priceline. Also, consider asking the local convention and visitors bureau for any feedback regarding the hotel.
Lastly, if you have already selected other vendors like caterers and photographers, then consider asking them to see if they have worked with this hotel.
Keep in mind who is coming to the wedding. If you have a lot of elderly folks coming from out of town, then it may be prudent to block hotel rooms near the airport.
If you have a crowd of twenty somethings attending, then booking a hotel downtown would be a better option. Take a look at your entire list of out of town guests and decide if the hotel you are inspecting will fit their needs.
Conducting a hotel site inspection is always a good practice before finalizing a wedding room block contract. As you can see, it is relatively easy so long as you know what to look for in a hotel. Without that knowledge, the whole site inspection can become a bit overwhelming, even for an experienced planner.
What should you do next?
Booking a hotel for out of town guests does not have to be complicated. Read more about how to compare hotels when booking a group.