4 Steps to Success with Priceline

by Kay Lynn

auction today

Many of our vacations involve hotel rooms even if it is just for one night pre-cruise. One way we save on hotel rooms is to use Priceline.

When I use Priceline, it’s always with the original format which is now called “Name Your Own Price’. You can also name your own price for car rental and airline tickets.  The catch is the vendor is masked.  You don’t know if you have a Holiday Inn or a Doubletree until the deal is finalized.

Because I’m too picky about airline arrangements (just ask the travel coordinator at my office) this post will focus on hotel bidding. If you have never used Priceline, you’re not alone. Many smart people I know haven’t used it because they don’t know how to bid.  With my help several have made the foray by following these four steps.

Research

It’s important to know what price to start with and what hotels you are likely to “win”.  Check out the best rate using the hotel and travel websites.  Then use a website to understand what bids are currently being accepted and the hotels involved.

Bidding for Travel.com is my favorite site to research price and hotels.  Make sure to check out the hotel list for the location you want.  The hotels are grouped by area and star level as defined by Priceline.  Knowing this will make sure you bid in the right zone because Priceline doesn’t always zone them the way you or I would.  There are also hotel reviews posted by users.

Restrictions

Using Priceline means you don’t have the reservation flexibility you would if booking through the hotel or a standard travel site. The reservation is prepaid and nonrefundable.  The room is only guaranteed to accommodate two adults.  This may be in one bed or two.  Your might not get a room with your smoking preference.  These are things to take into account.

Bidding

To proceed with naming your own price, enter the dates and city in the search criteria. Then select the acceptable star level, city neighborhoods and your price. Don’t be intimidated by the message that your price is unlikely to be accepted. It always tells me that!

You may want to use a bidding strategy that allows you to rebid right away by limiting selections the first attempt in order to retry. Bidding for Travel.com has a lot of information on so-called “free” rebids. If not, and the bid is unsuccessful, you can not make the same bid again for 24 hours (much better than 72 not so long ago).

Once you have a successful bid the hotel name and address will be revealed along with options to extend your stay.

Post Bid Preparation

Your work isn’t over once you have a hotel room. You should contact the hotel and make any special requests such as beds, smoking preference and location. The hotel is more inclined to honor requests if you’re a member of their loyalty program so be sure to give them the applicable membership number.

We have never had a problem checking in with a Priceline reservation, but just in case bring a copy of your confirmation email from Priceline.  The front desk usually confirms the room is prepaid.  This is another chance to make any special requests.  If the hotel is not too full it may very well be granted (and you get more with honey…).

Have you ever used Priceline?  What was your experience?

photo credit: Dave McLean

Content © Bucksomeboomer  2009-2010. All Rights Reserved.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

tattytiara February 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Never used it, but I’ve bookmarked this post!
.-= tattytiara´s last blog ..If you’re looking for the title please allow me to refer you to item number seven. =-.

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Bucksome February 24, 2010 at 4:33 am

Glad to see you stop by Tattytiara. Let me know if you have any questions when you use it the first time.

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SavingMentor November 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I use Priceline all the time. I think it is much less common for Canadians to use it, but I’ve been using it for years and it has saved me a bundle. I am using it for an upcoming trip to LA where I’m getting 5 nights for $330 taxes and fees in. Then I’m using my 2% travel rewards card to pay for that, making it free. That way I pay nothing out of pocket and I’m stretching the value of my travel rewards to boot.

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