Among the seemingly hundreds of websites advertising discounted hotel rooms, Priceline.com is my favorite. I am partial to this website for one reason – the “Name Your Own Price” feature. In this blog post, I’ll share some of my recent Priceline.com bookings, give tips for placing a successful bid, and highlight positives and negatives.
My “Name Your Own Price” deals
Last winter, I booked three nights (Friday- Monday) at Chicago’s Hotel Felix for only $60 per night using Priceline.com. According to the hotel website, room prices begin at $136.80. That’s a savings of over $76 per night! This ultra-chic, 4-star boutique hotel is located steps from the Magnificent Mile and features locally made H2O bath products.
Chicago's Hotel Felix, $60/night.
Last August, I scored two rooms on a Wednesday night at Madison’s Crowne Plaza hotel for $50 each. Rooms typically start at $99.95, according to Crowne Plaza’s website. I saved over $49 per room by using Priceline.com’s “Name Your Own Price” feature. The three-star property has a remodeled lobby and pool area.
Madison's Crowne Plaza Hotel, $50/night.
Last March, I booked a room at Miami’s Courtyard for $70 per night. We stayed here on a Sunday night. This is an especially good deal because we were at a Spring Break destination in the height of it all. According to their website, rooms usually start at $149 so I saved $79 on this booking. The three-star property is close to the Miami International Airport and has an open-air lounge.
Miami's Courtyard hotel, $70/night. Photo courtesy of Marriott.
How to successfully “Name Your Own Price”
Through much trial and error, I have come up with the following strategy for successfully bidding on Priceline.com using the “Name Your Own Price” feature.
1. Timing is everything. Don’t bid on a hotel three months ahead of time – you won’t get a great deal. The closer you book to your vacation, the better the deal. Hotels may have dozens of rooms to unload a week before your arrival and the prices will drop in correspondence. I don’t recommend waiting until 24 hours before check-in, though. Try bidding two weeks before your trip. Don’t worry if your bid isn’t accepted; try again the next day (Priceline will make you wait 24 hours).
2. Be persistent. Don’t get discouraged if your initial bid isn’t accepted, just try again tomorrow. They seem to adjust prices daily so yesterday’s rejected bid could be accepted today. Start again with your low bid and work your way up to your max bid. If that’s rejected, try again the next day…
3. Increase your bid by $5. When bidding on a hotel in a small/medium -sized city, I begin my bid at $50. If looking at hotels in large cities, I start at $60. If my initial bids are rejected, I increase them by $5.
4. Expand your geographic region. Priceline will let you choose your optimal geographic area when you bid. For example, when bidding on hotels in Chicago you can choose the Magnificent Mile area, the Loop area, the Lincoln Park area, etc. When bidding on Chicago hotels, I typically start by selecting the Magnificent Mile area and place my bid of $60. If that’s rejected, I expand my geographic area to include the Loop. If that $60 bid is rejected, I will lastly choose the Lincoln Park option.
5. Lower your expectations. Priceline will let you specify what type of property you’d like (4-star, 3-star, etc.). I always begin by bidding on 4-star properties. If my bids are getting rejected, I will lower my bids to include 3.5-star or 3-star properties. I have never had to book below at 3-star property, though.
Positives & Negatives of “Name Your Own Price”
I believe that the positive attributes of Priceline.com’s “Name Your Own Price” feature vastly outweigh the negatives. Nevertheless, I will share my thoughts so you can make an informed decision. Keep these things in mind when deciding if the “Name Your Own Price” feature is right for your next vacation.
1. You don’t know what property you’ll be assigned – only the geographic area and the star level.
2. You may end up having to pay for parking, depending on your hotel assignment.
3. The reservation is non-refundable and cannot be transferred.
4. The “Name Your Own Price” feature does not allow you to specify desired amenities, such as pools or on-site restaurants.
5. As a default setting, rooms are booked to accommodate two guests. This can be changed by calling the hotel directly after you book. This is only a hassle if you’re traveling with more than two people.
1. Four-star properties can be booked for a savings of 50% (or more)!
2. The “Name Your Own Price” feature has allowed me to stay at luxury properties on a budget.
3. The bidding process is exciting and fun!
Visit http://www.priceline.com/ to start bidding.
©Jessica Leigh Rosier 2012