The last time I used Priceline was so long ago that I can’t even remember what year it was. We went to New Orleans for an Aerosmith concert (don’t make fun!) and we needed an inexpensive hotel. I don’t remember much about the experience except that we got a great rate for a beautiful hotel right in the middle of the French Quarter (it was off season). Since then, we have mostly stuck to booking directly on the hotel website or on hotels.com. Since we had children, we avoided using Priceline because of this little disclaimer on their website:
All rooms will accommodate 2 adults
When I looked into using Priceline after having children, this kept me from actually bidding. It isn’t that we aren’t willing to stay in a hotel room that only has one bed, it is that I don’t want to show up with my two children and be told that I have additional costs associated with my room (which, according to the Priceline online helpdesk is entirely possible). Since finding that out, I have been wary about using Priceline.
When we were planning our trip to Asheville so that I could attend a conference, we decided that the $149 conference hotel room was not in our budget. I started looking at different websites and pricing hotels but I found that because it was summertime and I was trying to get near downtown that I was having a tough time finding a hotel for less than $129. At that rate, we might as well be comfortable in the conference hotel.
At this point, I did what every good social media chick does and I turned to Twitter and Facebook to see what they thought of Priceline. I immediately got lots of good feedback and stories about how much money they saved. And the highlight of this conversation was when the Negotiator sent me a tweet telling me to just Priceline a hotel already!
Who am I to argue with the Negotiator?
After two weeks of bidding daily (my starting bid was $50 for a 4 star downtown hotel), we eventually won a bid of $65 for a 2.5 star hotel. Here are a few things that I learned during the process.
Start bidding early
If you have several weeks before your trip, you will have time to start your bid low and work your way up to an accepted price.
Start your bidding low
The only way to get a super low price is to start your bidding low. The only harm done will be that you have to wait 24 hours to bid again and if you start bidding early (see above!) you will have the time to rebid.
Know the area before you bid
I had been to Asheville a few times but was not really familiar with what Priceline meant by Downtown-Biltmore. To research this, I visited Better Bidding and read the posts about the Downtown-Biltmore area. I visited websites for hotels that accepted the bids so I had a feeling about which hotels might accept, how far away they were from the conference hotel, etc.
24 hour wait period in between bids
I didn’t know this so imagine my surprise when I tried to rebid and it said thanks but no thanks! You can rebid one time immediately if you are willing to raise your bid price by $15 and change one of your options (hotel star, location,etc.). I wasn’t willing to change any of this so I waited the 24 hours in between each bid.
2.5 star does not necessarily mean poor hotel
I started bidding with a 4 star hotel at $50. I figured there was no way it would be accepted, but hey…you never know until you try! I increased the dollar amount every day until I hit 90 dollars for a 4 star hotel with no luck. At this point, I changed my bidding tactics and started bidding for a 3 star hotel at $50 and worked up to $90 still to no avail. I headed back to the Better Bidding website to see what qualified as a 2.5 star hotel in Asheville. Keep in mind that the star ratings on priceline aren’t gauranteed and that they can change. The 2.5 star hotels listed for the Asheville Downtown-Biltmore area included a Holiday Inn Express and a Country Inn and Suites so we decided to try that. I bid $65 for four nights in a 2.5 star hotel and the bid was finally accepted by the Country Inn and Suites on Tunnel Road.
Don’t Give Up
If you really want to priceline a hotel, don’t give up the first time. Remember that the bids accepted are ever changing. Your $65 bid might not be accepted on Tuesday but it might get picked up on Thursday.
Do you have any Priceline experiences or other bidding experiences? Share with us in the comments!