If you are a professional meeting planner, setting up hotel room blocks is your second nature, but to many individuals planning a wedding, a small meeting, gathering, reunion or social event, reserving hotel room blocks can be intimidating. Visit Oceanside’s Group Travel Department shared this Q & A on key points to consider.
How far in advance do I need to book my hotel room blocks?
In Oceanside, our recommendation is for you to contact either Visit Oceanside or the hotels nine months out. It may seem too early, but this will ensure the best rate and will give you an idea about any challenges in booking a block, such as a citywide event. Many of our properties will not be able to offer rates a year or more out from your event date.
Does it cost anything to have a room block?
Most properties will offer a courtesy hold or special rate that expires months prior to your event date. However, there are hotels that will require a contract indicating a minimum number of rooms booked. Read the agreements carefully as they can financially leave you on the hook for rooms not acquired. The fact is that on average 30% of people will book outside of the reserved block so it will take time and attention on your part to make sure your guests fill your block first.
How many rooms should I book?
This is one of the most common questions that we receive. It’s actually better to be conservative. To get the most accurate quote for a hotel, you’ll want to have an idea of how many individuals or couples will need a room with a single bed versus families or friends that will share a room and will require two beds. Keep in mind these are only estimates. You don’t need to call everyone on your list. For more than 100 guests, two hotels with a courtesy block of ten rooms each are usually more than enough.
What amenities do I need to consider?
Hotel amenities are personal to every traveler. Some guests prefer to have breakfast included, while others would rather check out the best local fare. Is your crowd going to be looking for a place to hang out and have a night cap or do they want a quiet place where they can hang out and read a book? Your best bet is to select two area hotels that have slightly different amenities so you can please as many guests as possible.
If you have guests with any kind of special needs, please consider those ahead of time. While all hotels are ADA compliant, most have limited availability on rooms with full accessibility, including roll in showers for wheelchairs. Those will need to be booked far enough in advance to ensure availability.
Will I always receive a discount when booking a hotel room block?
Our hotels want to fill their need periods with groups so depending on your date, a discount might be offered to your group. It’s important to remember that Oceanside is a beach destination. Our coastal hotels have high occupancy in the summer and are often sold out so expect rates to be at their highest. There may be times when room blocks or discounts are not available based on time of year or other events occurring in the city or the region such as IRONMAN, Comic-Con, or Surf Cup. Visit Oceanside will be able to let you know of any challenging or blackout dates.
What about economy hotels?
Smaller hotels that don’t have many rooms to begin with, tend not to hold rooms for groups since they just don’t have the inventory. They are still great options to suggest to your guests for direct bookings.
Can my group book a vacation home?
Booking a vacation rental takes a little more coordination because you’ll need to specifically know the room configuration needs of everyone staying there. A home may say it sleeps 10, but 4 of those may be bunk beds for children. Vacation homes also have a maximum capacity so while your friends say they don’t mind sleeping on the floor, it’s probably not something that the vacation rental will allow. Also, although there are a few exceptions, most vacation rentals will need full payment to come from a single source and that person would need to collect everyone else’s portion. We have so many fantastic vacation rental companies and complexes that if you let us know what your groups needs are, we can help you find the perfect fit!
OK, I’m ready. How do I get started?
If you have any questions or are ready to book your out of town guest accommodations be sure to Contact our Group Travel Department for complimentary and friendly assistance.