Everyone has heard of priceline.com. But after seeing people start threads like "where can i get a decent hotel in x city" I'm not sure that everyone fully understands how well it works, or how to manipulate it to give you extremely good room rates. I have written a relatively brief guide below.
For a long time I assumed the "name your own price and save" thing was a gimmick, but it actually works extremely well.
I'm taking a road trip up and down the east coast this week, and here are some sample rates I've gotten:
3* Hotel in DT Pittsburgh on Saturday
Hotel website price: $127
Priceline accepted bid: $45
2.5* Hotel in DT Toronto on Sunday
Hotel website price: $89CAN
Priceline accepted bid: $45US (domestic transaction, no conversion fee)
3* Hotel in Atlantic City on Thursday
Hotel website price: $89
Priceline accepted bid: $63
These are the only nights I've attempted thus far; I'll post more when I buy them.
Here is a basic user guide:
1) Enter the city you want a hotel for in the "name your own price" section of the homepage. Do not enter dates into the regular webpage.
Make SURE you use the "name your own price" section of the webpage.
2) Enter the neighborhood you want to stay in (you can check multiple neighborhoods).
3) You will see the star ratings (1* through 5*) available in the neighborhoods you've checked. Select your minimum star rating (generally 2.5* should be minimum).
4) Enter the amount you want to spend on the room.
5) Enter your credit card info (or username/password).
6) It will tell you whether your bid for a hotel room was accepted.
-If so, YOU HAVE PURCHASED THE ROOM.
-If not, YOU CANNOT PLACE ANOTHER BID FOR 24 HOURS.
-Hotels use priceline to sell their unsold rooms at whatever price they can get.
-Hotels sell you hotel rooms at prices they do not want associated with their brand name in advirtisements (eg Hilton would not want to put out an ad for a $50 hotel room when 75% of the people pay $100+).
-You have PURCHASED THE ROOM. This is NOT just a reservation and it CANNOT be changed.
-You do not know which hotel you will be staying at before you buy, only the neighborhood and minimum star rating.
-You theoretically cannot "rebid" on the hotel for 24 hours.
-- this method allows you to get the lowest possible price for your desired star rating and neighborhood.
You CAN rebid within 24 hours if you do one of two things:
-Lower your minimum star rating threshold
-Choose another neighborhood to include in the search.
At this point you WILL be given the opportunity to raise your bid.
Most neighborhoods do not have hotels available in all star ratings. Some neighborhoods have only 3* or worse, 2.5* or worse, or 2* or worse. When you are picking your preferred neighborhood (often downtown or a nice area, which generally has up to 4* or higher), you first must find out which other neighborhoods have hotels ONLY BELOW your desired star rating. To do this, DE-SELECT your preferred neighborhood and select each neighborhood individually. WRITE DOWN the names of all the neighborhoods that have hotels ONLY BELOW your desired star rating (the higher star levels will grey out if this is the case). These areas are called REBID ZONES.
Start your bid unrealistically low. I would say a general guide is this:
$35 -- 2.5*
$40 -- 3*
$50 -- 4*
Note: This is highly variable and between and within cities
If your bid is rejeceted, you can add one of the rebid zones to your search. You KNOW there are no hotels that could posssibly be accepted in the rebid zone, but by adding it you will be allowed to raise your bid. Continue this process until you get an accepted bid (usually increase in $5 increments, since there are always a limited numer of rebids available). If you reach your maximum budget, lower the star rating (works in place of adding a rebid zone; make sure none of your rebid zones have your new star rating).
Let's say you want a 4* hotel in Downtown Atlanta.
-When you see the list of neighborhoods, find out which ones have no 4* hotels. You see that Jonesboro, Stockbridge, and Union City all have only 2* or worse.
-First, highlight Downtown and put out a feeler bid: $50. Rejected. Damn.
-Add Jonesboro to your bid. Rebid $55. Rejected again. Damn.
-Add Stockbridge to your bid. Rebid $60. Bingo!
$60: 4* Hayatt Regency Downtown
-Enjoy paying easily half what the average guest is paying! Or, enjoy staying in a substantially better hotel than $60 could buy using any normal purchasing avenue.
check out the 2p2 of priceline bidding forums
. What I've told you is expressed in much more detail there, and they have developed bidding into nearly an art form. Members also post all their winning bids, so you can get a great idea of what will be accepted where. Pay it forward by joining yourself and posting your winning bids (in their format--they are very picky).
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here. If you have success, share your winning bids!