16 November 2009
How to "Name Your Own Price" on Priceline.com ®
I believe it's safe to say that here in 2009 most of our travel is booked online through various travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity, CheapoStay and Priceline.com®. One of the best tips I can share with you is how to use Priceline.com®, when done so effectively you can get much more than 50% off! Priceline.com® is infamous for their "Name Your Own Price®" option on hotels, sadly many people fail to get a good price or a good hotel. I want to start by informing you I am 10 for 10 on Priceline.com®, not only getting an amazing deal but also a great hotel. I recently stayed at a 4-Star Marriott in Cancun, originally priced at $325/night, I named my own price and got $125/night. For an upcoming stay in Arlington, VA I was able to secure a Sheraton for $75/night, it was listed at $190/night. Here are my tips to getting an amazing deal and becoming your own negotiator!
Step 1 Begin by browsing the available hotels in the city you are looking to stay. You are looking at the published rates! You want to get an idea for what the average pricing is, what hotel classes are offered and where the hotels are. If you are looking for a specific area, use the "neighborhood" select tool on the top left to narrow your search. For more help, check out the recent winning bids by city.
Step 2 Once you've decided what hotel class and neighborhood it's time to select the "Name Your Own Price®" tab. You will come to a 3-step booking page which allows you to narrow your possible hotels by the neighborhood and by hotel class. Based on your research with the published rates you should have a good idea of what hotels you'll be likely to stay at if you win. In some major cities like Miami, it can be a win-win situation. You may have 5 possible hotels, but all are in your desired area and meet your criteria. This is ideal for bidding!
If you are seeking a specific hotel, you want to make sure that your research is flawless. Remember no outcome is guaranteed but with proper planning you can greatly increase your chances.
Take into consideration the supply and demand factor. Are you going to a Spring Break destination in March? Is there a large convention and most hotels are sold out? Use common sense when bidding, if there is a huge demand with little supply a low ball bid will likely not be accepted.
Step 3 Now that you have entered your desired hotel class and neighborhood Priceline.com® will tell you what the average retail rate per night in that area is. For our example, a 3-Star Hotel in Southwest Miami "retails for $118". In reality the retail rates were much higher, near $190 a night. You may notice Priceline.com® does not accurately identify the retail rate from time to time.
Remember that if they do not accept your price you can always do it again by changing a variable of your search
Remember Priceline.com® may upgrade your hotel class, but they will never downgrade. If you choose a 2-Star hotel you could get a 3 or 4-star
Remember to start LOW! In this example I would start with a $50 bid. NOTE: I started at $50 and was forced up to $100 in this example
Step 4 Review the information and enter your credit card information as you prepare to "negotiate".
Step 5 Now you have ideally won and you can celebrate by jumping for joy or possibly doing the Priceline.com® Negotiator kung fu chop. However, if you have lost you do have options!
- Option 1 - You can re-bid by increasing your price and adding a variable. This means you would need to add an extra neighborhood or hotel class. I have found that you can beat this system by adding an additional hotel class when there are no hotels in that class! For example, if you are seeking a 2-Star hotel in Miami and need to add an additional variable, select a 1-Star hotel (assuming there are none) and you will be able to re-bid without losing your hotel prospects.
- Option 2 - Priceline will give you the option to re-bid with the same variables if you up your price by a specific amount. This amount tends to be $15-$20.
- Option 3 - Log out and try again, this time with a different credit card.
- Option 4 - Wait the 24 hours required by Priceline.Com® and go at it again