Guide to: Priceline.com Bidding
With US site, Priceline, you can get huge discounts on hotel stays across the globe and our guide will give you the tools to beat their system and secure the lowest bids.
Done correctly, this is a great way to get top end hotel stays without blowing your budget, particularly if you’re flexible about where you stay.
How it works
While Priceline will let you book hotels the traditional way, comparison sites like TripAdvisor, TravelSupermarket or Trivago are a much better bet if you’re heading down that route. The real winner with Priceline is its ‘Name Your Price’ feature that works like this:
The reason this feature works is because hotels need to fill their rooms. An occupied room at a discounted rate is better than an empty room, but there’s a trade off. They don’t want to publicise cheap rates as it would cut into their margins from their usual customers who wouldn’t be overly impressed if they knew they were paying as much as 70% more for the same room. They can also guarantee a sale as there are no refunds, so for them, they can ensure they’re still making a profit, even if it’s just a small one (and even if they can’t, a busy hotel is better than an empty one for attracting future, full-paying clients).
There are risks with this system! For one, the hotel’s a secret until you’ve made a payment so it’s probably more suited to 2-3 night city breaks rather than 2 week luxury holidays and of course, its possible that a winning bid could be more than the advertised price on another site (though this is less likely). If this happens, you could try contacting Priceline to complain and maybe you can get them to match the cheaper rate – though don’t bank on it.
Beating the system
While their system is already great for getting good discounts on hotels around the world, there’s a trick to really boost these discounts.
Officially, bid too low and you have to wait 24 hours to have another go, but there’s a loophole that enables you to have multiple bids each day, massively increasing your chances of getting that 5* hotel at the lowest possible price – the rule of thumb is start low (you want your first bid to be rejected really), then work your way up slowly so that when accepted, you can be confident you got it at the bottom end of the acceptable price scale.
Getting multiple bids
These tips are pretty straight forward, but they’ll give you a few extra chances to bag that bargain. If you really want to beat their system, you’ll need to follow a few more steps using our advanced system.
Key facts about Priceline
You choose where you want to stay as cities are broken up into multiple areas so think about how flexible you’re prepared to be.
Upgrades are possible but you’ll never be downgraded so if you choose 4* and the area or areas you’ve selected have no 4* or better hotels available, you won’t be allocated anything there.
You can only make additional bids if you change your search criteria. This includes the addition of another area, so if unsuccessful, choose an area that has no hotels available for your chosen star rating or above, ensuring that a successful bid can only find hotels in the area you really want. To take full advantage of this loophole, firstly identify lots of areas with no hotels that meet your star rating requirements or above, and add them when you need to make a new bid.
Finding the right ‘dummy areas’ is key to maximising your bidding potential. Start by choosing your city and the dates you want to stay. This will bring up a list of areas for that city. When you select one, the star rating section will identify what level of hotel is available for that area. The idea, is to find areas that don’t have any hotels at the level you want or higher. For example, let say you want to stay in London, you want ‘The City’ and you only want a 5* hotel. Choosing ‘Walthamstow’ brings up 2* and 3* hotels only, while ‘Wembley’ maxes out at 4*. Both of these are suitable ‘dummy areas’ and each will give you an extra bid. Obviously the more areas a city has, the more flexibility you have for generating extra bids.
After an unsuccessful bid, Priceline might make you a counter offer for example; you can get the hotel if you bid £28 more. This is great news, as it means you’re close to the low-end threshold. Don’t accept the offer, instead use one of your extra bids and try bidding halfway between your latest and the counter offer (say £14 more). Obviously if your out of extra bids, you could take the offer if you’re happy with the price, but make sure it can’t be beaten through a comparison site like Trivago or direct through the hotels website first.