At some stage during your destination wedding planning process, you’re likely to be exposed to the idea that some of your guests might want to stay in a different hotel than where you are hosting the other guests and your dream wedding. Closely tied to this, are going to be guests who question why they should book through your destination wedding website or destination wedding travel agent if they find a cheaper travel deal somewhere else.
This article is going to help you understand how to navigate those questions and give you insider knowledge about the disadvantages that could give you extra unwanted headaches if your guests decide to go rogue!
While your guests are free to do what works best for themselves and their families, there are factors that should be considered when advising your guests and answering questions about attending your destination wedding...
Most often, destination wedding guests will stay on-site for a few days so that they can take part in all of the wedding activities and the big day itself. Some may decide to either stay a few more days or head to a different nearby hotel to have their own mini vacation, so this works out perfectly for everyone! Woot, who doesn’t love perfect outcomes and easy guests?!
All-inclusive resorts don’t operate the same as traditional local hotels, so if you have guests who want to stay at a different resort the entire time, you (and they) need to understand that they will NOT be allowed to attend your wedding without buying a wedding day pass* to get on to the property – and passes range from $70-150 per person with strict limitations about how long they can stay on-site, as the resorts have restricted hours for when off-site guests can arrive and must depart the premises on the wedding day ONLY.
*Important note to consider is that day passes are NOT guaranteed. Due to safety and fire codes, if the resort is at capacity, they will not be allowed to provide day passes to anyone, regardless of how much someone is willing to pay or if they are supposed to be a part of your wedding.
You will also have to break the news that they won’t be able to hang out with you at your resort any other days, besides the wedding day with that pass. Therefore, you would have to make off-site arrangements to spend time with them – which is going to mean outlaying more money for transport to meet somewhere, and having to pay out of pocket for whatever it is that you go do. Additionally, you’ll have to leave the rest of your guests enjoying the property that you oh-so-carefully selected for your dream destination wedding, just so you can catch up with those who chose to stay elsewhere. It’s not ideal.
Furthermore, the best destination wedding resorts have a limit on the number of guests that can stay off-site and still attend the wedding. The policies found within the fine print of your wedding package contract will state that you have to have a certain percentage of your guests staying on the property in order to qualify for your wedding package.
For your own sanity and to ensure your guests can definitely celebrate with you - it's highly recommended to have everyone stay on property for at least 3-4 nights, which is the usual minimum stay for group room blocks. This way, they can enjoy time with you and attend all the events before they switch hotels to stay elsewhere on their own, or depart after your wedding with the memories and fun that you all created together!
What if My Guests Find a Cheaper Deal?
If your guests shop around for the best deals on resort vacations, there is a good chance that a few of them will come across a cheap travel deal. There is always something out there that may pop up or a new limited promotion through a certain date – it is inevitable in this digital world. However, it is highly unlikely that the deal that one guest found, will be available for all, so often times your group room rates will be the best deal, not to mention the amenities you can earn on top of that.
Online sites tend to offer a few rooms at a cheap promotional rate and then raise the rates once those are sold OR it could be the last of their contracted inventory they are dumping at a cheap rate to ensure it’s off their books. There is also a concern that it might be a “too good to be true” travel deal. The flight might have a 16-hour layover or arrive the next day, which can be an easy detail to miss when booking on your own.
The cheaper resort rate could also be due to room inventory being sold are the rooms above the kitchen, parking lots, or nightclubs. Cheap vacation booking sites often contract the most undesirable room locations in order to be able to offer these so-called deals. You may also find that the fine print states that your guest has an additional fee upon arrival, and most importantly, are subject to being moved to another resort if they overbook. Last but not least, those deals are nearly always non-refundable and must be paid in full at time of booking.
Many learned the hard way from the recent pandemic that monies paid to a third-party travel website aren’t the concern of the hotel or airline being booked, so those suppliers can’t assist you and redirect you to the company you purchased from. Unfortunately, you are left to fight with the online travel site directly – so if they shut their doors and walk away, like many travelers sadly endured as some operators closed soon after travel became restricted. A company’s finances and sustainability are the last thing someone thinks about before booking a trip, but will now need to start considering for future travel planning.
Keep in mind, you will also need to personally track each guest who books outside your room block, and ensure they provide you with their travel details, so that you can pass along the information to your wedding coordinator for headcount and room location.
You will also need to make sure that your guests on their own, have transportation arranged too - as they won't be included with the others under your group room block. They will be on their own should any issues arise and will not be included to receive any of the travel instructions, advice, event info etc.. that your destination wedding travel advisor may pass along to those who are booked under your group.
If for some reason there is a significant difference in price that continues, let your travel advisor know ASAP! They can go back to renegotiate pricing as there may have been a change to the resort or restructuring that occurred after your contracted rates were supplied. It shouldn't be an issue to get those changed for everyone already booked and for the other rooms holding in your block.
Don’t forget you will also most likely earn additional amenities such as free nights, room upgrades and/or wedding benefits based on the number of rooms booked under your group block. Any reservations booked outside the group will not be included in the count to earn those extras, so it could be important to direct your guests to book through your room block.
Urging your guests to trust you, the process, and your travel advisor is the best way to ensure that everything goes according to plan with minimal opportunity for problems before your wedding, so that you can then get on with the entire point – marrying your best friend in a paradise and having fun! You will give your guests and yourself peace-of-mind knowing someone will be on your side until returning home.
I hope you found some valuable insight to help you confidently answer your guests questions! If you feel overwhelmed or would like assistance to field guest questions, narrow down the perfect destination or resort, we are here for you! This is what we do every day!
We spend most of our vacation time touring resorts, meeting with the wedding coordinators and training for destination weddings, so we can make it very simple for you. We save you time by filtering out all the bad advice and countless options for you. Let us take the guesswork out and match-make you to the destination and resorts that fit your style, vision and budget the best.
Together we will find your most perfect wedding resort and we take care of the logistics after that. All you have to do is the fun wedding planning and creating an unforgettable event your friend and family will remember for a lifetime! Schedule your free consultation to see how we can assist and learn more about our services!