Priceline – Our Experience

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!

Comments

  1. 1

    I’m glad you took the chance on priceline. I love using priceline!!

    As for 24 hours rebid, there is a way to go around it. I have talked about it on my blogs. You can learn about the tricks and it will allow you to rebid within the same day. You just have to learn the strategy of bidding zone & hotel stars ranking.

    See my explanation on step 4 in my post: http://www.theqfamilyadventures.com/5-easy-steps-to-start-bidding-on-priceline/

    Also another tip for Priceline user, after you won the bid call your hotel that you won asap and request 2 Queen beds in your room. I have never had any problems getting 2 beds for my family.

  2. 2

    I’ve always been scared to try these types of sites. This is helpful! (and I’ve seen Aerosmith three times!)

  3. 3

    I use price line a lot. I’ve never been charged for being a family of five instead of two adults.

  4. 4

    Good tips! I’ve always been a little confused by Priceline, but now I have a better understanding. Thanks!

  5. 5

    I tried Priceline many years ago and ended up with a hotel that was less than desirable to my family- and we aren’t ones that often go for 4 stars to begin with. We are planning a trip to Seattle soon and I was thinking about giving Priceline another chance. Once just isn’t really enough to determine what I think of the site. Thanks for your tips, I’ll certainly put them to use.

  6. 6

    i know some people at my work that used priceline and they were really satisfied. They got really good discount on some usa’s hotel.

  7. 7
    Strollerblader says:

    I know this is way late for this post, but …

    I think that using a bidding help site is key when bidding on Priceline. I love biddingfortravel.com For each state/area, they have a listing of the likely hotels that will come up, so you can read through all the reviews to decide if all of those hotels are OK with you, then you can also see what people’s winning bids were for the area you’re looking at, so you have a good idea of where to start your bids. They also give you the full rundown of how to get a hotel at your price point with bidding and re-bidding strategies.

    Just ran across your blog today after googling “innsbruck kids” and have enjoyed an hour of browsing. Thanks!