While internet has made the information available on tips, sorting the information and using it to make a prudent decision is still a task!
The same applies on the big question “how do I chose the best suited Hotel/s for my guests to stay and for the wedding festivities?”, while you google for possible options you get to see tons on them and all looking good generally 🙂 .
Yesterday during a Phone Call I was mentioned by Father of Groom “Being in India and having Internet access on my Mobile, it would not take more than 10 minutes for me to start calling up Hotels in Goa and ask for the proposal however that doesn’t solve my problem of finding the most suitable one”. He adds, I do not know if the Hotel is worth Rs. 15000 or 10000 and therefore without visiting them personally I have no way to shortlist any and make a decision.
The problem becomes grave if you are overseas and do not have much resources to research around the practical value of the options available, how good they are on the ground, what kind of service level & food quality could be expected and so on.
Trip Advisor Reviews specially are not useful in my opinion since the platform is mostly used for rants and normally not many of us write with perspective of using the Hotel for Wedding.
No, I am not trying to scare you!
however “selection of Hotel & Venues” is one of the most important decision which ensures your dream day and the choice are in sync.
By the way of this Blog, I am listing some of very common questions and problems you would like keep in mind while deciding upon the choice of Hotel/s.
1. We need the name of possible Hotels to start with, how to go about it?
First of all decide upon your per night budget and kind of Hotel you have in mind. For example “I can not spend more than Rs. 9000/night for Hotel in Goa to include breakfast. The Hotel should have access to beach and outdoor venue to be used for the wedding evening”.
This kind detail is good enough to make a search on Hotel booking websites like Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia. Consider the price, check facilities, look at non promotional pictures, consider location, proximity with local Restaurants & market area.
Tip : You may contact a Wedding Planner for these details but do make it clear if you just want the information or you want them to obtain the quotation on your behalf. Its better to ask for information only at this stage.
2. Published rates are available on various websites, what would be the negotiated offer?
Prices shown online are good indication of the kind of offer you should be looking at, surprisingly Wedding Group rates are generally higher than those “NON-CANCELLABLE, ADVANCE PURCHASE” deals. Reason is pretty simple, every Hotel offloads few Rooms at very low prices at strict booking terms. Compare the Prices which sound more regular in nature.
Tip : For example for a Hotel which you see published prices to be Rs. 11000, few Rooms online on early Bird could be Rs. 7000 while the Group rates would be Rs. 9000.
Wedding Planner should be able to share the prevailing group rates which may have further scope of negotiation (generally 5-7%) depending upon the scale of your requirements.
You should be able to make a list of 4-5 options you liked at the most and which seems to be fitting in your budget by now
3. Do I directly ask the Hotels for offer or rely on Wedding Planner?
This is absolutely your choice however its highly recommended that you do not inquire via multiple sources hoping to see lowest offer. It rather confuses the situation which you realise later.
Along with the offer customised for your dates and requirements, you would need lot of other information as well (listed in question #4 below) and this could mean multiple Phone calls and emails chasing the Hotels. So be prepared to spend sometime on this.
Tip : If you are engaging Wedding Planner to that on your behalf you may have a possibility of better deal at the same time it will save you from hassle of following up the Hotels. Involving Wedding Planner at this stage also ensures a smooth coordination between yourself, them and the Hotels. Reputed Wedding Planners work on fee model and pass on the benefit of their frequent dealing with Hotels. In either case Wedding Planner should be able to introduce you to suitable contacts.
Tip : If you are not paying for everyone’s stay but just for your own Rooms but expecting the guests to stay in same Hotel, you must clarify this in advance. Otherwise it can create lot of complications later.
4. Now when I have the precise offers from the Hotels, how do I evaluate & compare them?
Well this is a tough one to crack and you really have to evaluate both sides of deal. While you are looking at offers you also need to be careful about the deliverable/inclusions. The location, facilities, Rooms are to be looked in, Few pointers about the comparison below
A. Look for Value for Money even if you have to stretch a bit, going by the price asked you may miss the bigger picture.
B. If the offer has any meal included?
This could be a regular buffet Lunch/Dinner however later you may gey option to upgrade this to an elaborated Menu.
C. If Airport/Railway transfers are included.
Reputed Hotels & Resorts have shuttle services available
D. Booking & cancellation Terms
Advance payment required to lock in, cut off date, minimum number of guaranteed Rooms for that offer, cancellation policy etc.
E. Any upgrades available?
F. Spa Packages/Discount on F&B Bills ordered from Room/any other fancy attached
G. Suitability of Venues & Venue charges applicable.
H. Does Hotel have Indoor venues for after party? (Music generally stops at 10.30 PM outdoor)
Tip : Give equal weight to variety of venues available, price, flexibility & responsiveness & food quality while making the selection
You may plan to visit the Hotels personally to take the final call, if not you certainly require a professional advice to go with
5. Choice is made, whats next?
You should have a consolidated document or a formal agreement available mentioning the rates, inclusions, terms & conditions etc before you commit by paying an advance.
Most of the Hotels ask for a token advance (in case the wedding dates are more than 8-9 months ahead) otherwise you may be asked for a 50% deposit straight away.
At this stage you mention a guaranteed number of minimum Rooms which you shall be taking up to avail the offer and you shall be given a cut off date by which you need to furnish a List of names with check in and out details. closer this date is towards the wedding date, better it is since you get enough time to deal with “late comers”. However reputed Hotels need atleast 45 days advance notice as cut off date.
Tip : Consider booking few extra Rooms on main dates and few extra Rooms on previous/past period. These Rooms should be on tentative basis and could be released without any cancellation charges.
6. I am not paying for everyone’s stay but I have secured offer for my wedding block so that my guests can book and pay directly, there is still lot to be managed?
This is quiet often the situation these days in Destination Weddings. It takes altogather different approach to handle it and you will certainly need a professional help.
A. Have I overbooked/under booked number of Rooms?
B. How to I inform all my guest list about the Group block and coordinate their bookings?
C. How will my guests contact Hotel and reserve a Room for them? How would the payment work?
D. Who will be taking care of guests list, monitoring the cut off date, sending reminder, responding to queries?
E. Who will be building up Arrival & departure list for transfers?
F. My guests might have smaller request to make, how do I ensure they are helped with?
This is where the Hotels may not be really helpful and could become a pain to handle. Getting professional help of a Wedding Planner or a Hospitality expert is highly recommended here.
We have simplified this process by experiencing the situation over and over again. We as your Wedding Planner develop a customised Wedding Website for you which list all sort of required information and also has an interface to interact with our team of travel experts for reserving Rooms, helping with flights/transport, securing advance payment, traveling other parts of India and above all keeping you stress free!
We take care of advice on optimum number of Rooms, interacting with your guests, timely reminder of deadlines, managing direct payment by guests, building a Room allocation list, notes on special requirements, tracking arrival/departures & early check in etc.
Concluding this write up, I hope you get some insight about securing Hotel & Venues for the Wedding. If you are looking for a Wedding Planner to do it for you, please feel free to drop in a line.