Advice Sought - Hotel Bidding Sites

Feb 22nd, 2010, 12:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 69
Advice Sought - Hotel Bidding Sites

I have never used a bidding site as of yet to book my hotel stays and am looking for advice from those of you who have. I have booked through, but have found I can use that site as a starting point to price some properties, and then am able to get basically the same deal by booking directly with the hotel, and avoiding the pre-pay.

I am planning a trip to Seattle/Vancouver area from July 27th - August 4th. I've already booked hotel reservations in each of the cities at their current rates; however, now want to see if I can secure better deals (of course I can cancel my current reservations all the way up to day before arrival. I will be travelling with my wife and two teen age children.

I understand the general concept of using these sites, but what is the optimum time to begin doing your bidding? Do you typically get better deals the closer to the date, as hotels have a better idea of their capacity? Or are you better off to put your bids in further out? Any other helpful suggestions for how to maximize your savings? Are you able to specify room type (Suite, 2 Queen beds, non-smoking, etc.)?
russp3762 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,342 is a good place to get info
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,442
My limited experience has been that the prices get better as you get within a couple weeks of your stay. I had quit bidding a month or so before, then started rebidding 10 days before arrival and got lower prices than where I had stopped bidding before.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,269
Using Priceline, you are only guaranteed a room with bedding for two people, usually, therefore, one queen or one king bed. If you are all planning to stay in one room, Priceline is out.

Using Hotwire, you can get around this problem by stating that the room will be for 3 or 4 people. Since 3 or 4 obviously can't share one bed, the room you get will have two beds -- maybe two doubles, but still two beds.

Like NP, I've had my best success getting low prices right before the date of arrival. Of course, then you're taking your chances that things will be sold out, since obviously, they don't give rooms to priceline and hotwire if they can sell them themselves.

In addition to, there is also The former covers priceline AND hotwire, the latter priceline only.
sf7307 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Not specific to the places you mentioned, but important to know:
All Priceline "name your own price" and Hotwire bookings are NON-cancellable.

"Are you able to specify room type (Suite, 2 Queen beds, non-smoking, etc.)" Definitely NO.
Priceline guarantees a room that will fit 2 people, but it may be a room with 2 twin beds, or one queen or king (and maybe even one double bed). For 4 people. you need to bid for 2 rooms OR use Hotwire which does let you specify the number of people.
Now some people will say that they have bid for 2 people and were able to switch to a larger room, but some people say the hotel either turns them down flat or makes them pay full price for another or larger room. When you bid on Priceline you agree to their terms so you have no recourse if the room isn't big enough for your needs.

I think that both Hotwire and Priceline guarantee non-smoking, but check their current terms and conditions
nyer is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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I live in Seattle and visit Vancouver often, and have used a great deal both for myself when going to Vancouver and for others visiting Seattle.

Those dates are right near the very peak of the Seattle summer tourist season and that might hinder your quest somewhat. (for EXAMPLE: had your dates been March 3 to 12 or so, most hotels would anticipate being largely empty on those dates, and thus would likely be willing to tell Priceline: "hey, if you can get us $50 per room, go ahead and sell 40 of our rooms at that rate")

In the case of July 27 to Aug 4... a certain amount of good fortune may be required for you to get something very far in advance.

LET ME BE CLEAR - when you DO get a room on Priceline, they charge your card IMMEDIATELY. (SO IF you won your bid on March 7, the rooms for your July/August stay would be charged the full discounted amount to which you agreed on March 7)

With all that said... Lets saaaaaaaaaaaaaay that the rooms you have at nicer downtown locations in each city run maybe $200 per night for 8 nights... so $1600 plus tax...

With Priceline, a reasonable expectation would be to land similar rooms for the base rate of $80 per night, for those 8 nights. Priceline itself charges a fee, but the added expenses would possibly be covered by the DIFFERENCE between local taxes on $1600 and local taxes on $640.

(note: If one booked 4 nights on Priceline @ $80, the total bill might be $360-$375-ISH, which INCLUDES most taxes and the Priceline fee)

An important part of your equation is the probability that you are NOT needing to be housed next to or near any certain touristy feature. You do NOT get to pre-select the hotel at which you'll stay, when using Priceline.

In Seattle, for example, you'd be put at any hotel of the pre-selected-by-you "star level" within the bounds of the listed "downtown area".

This could include the Edgewater Hotel which, while a nice place, makes for a bit of a remote, uphill walk to get to the central core of town. The Beatles once famously fished out their hotel window there.

OR Priceline could land you RIGHT in the very middle of the downtown shopping/tourist district. It's quite random.

A place where you can study-up on Priceline is Pay particular attention to who is getting what hotels at what price.

It couldn't hurt to bid as early as you want... while sort of sticking to rigid standards for what you will pay, and NOT getting caught-up in the seeming gamble, and paying too much right NOW just to secure a room.

(in raw numbers: )

IF your pre-booked rooms are now at/near $200 per night for a nice downtown location in either city. I would endorse bidding up to an $80 base rate NOW, for similar rooms.

(if you got $80 rooms NOW... who cares too much if you could have landed them for $65 on July 22???)

I'd start with the 4-star locales, and maybe at $50 per night... boosting your bids by $5 each time, using "free rebids" {see biddingfortravel for that term}... up to $80, where IF you don't get anything... just STOP and try again next week.

Hope this helps
NorthwestMale is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 02:05 PM
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But the main thing to remember is that with four of you, the ONLY logical and safe way to bid Priceline is to bid for two rooms. If you have a good deal already on one room to accommodate four people. . . well, you do the math.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
First, you have to do your homework so you are familiar with rates for your dates for rooms for 4 people.

<< Of course, then you're taking your chances that things will be sold out, since obviously, they don't give rooms to priceline and hotwire if they can sell them themselves. >>

This is not necessarily true. For one thing, the hotels do not give rooms to Priceline or Hotwire. When you search Hotwire or bid on Priceline, the hotels they use are searched for your dates in real time. It is a common amisconception that Priceline and Hotwire have "inventory" for particular dates.

Hotels use historical fill rates, holidays, special events, etc. when releasing rooms to Priceline and Hotwire, so everything turns on your dates, and the hotel's method of timing. Some hotels/chains have rooms available far in advance and the rates go up (on Priceline and Hotwire) as the time narrows. With others, rooms are released later on, sometimes at even lower rates. Bonuses are typically calculated based on fill rates/profits and conscientious hotel managers like to keep their fill rates as high as possible.

There is no optimum time to shop Hotwire or bid on Priceline. Once you've reserved rooms you can cancel, diligent shopping pays off tremendously.

As mentioned, Priceline rooms are guaranteed for two people only. But, you can often book two rooms for less than one through conventional resources.

With, you can often significantly narrow down the Hotwire possibilities, even, sometimes, figure out the specific properties offered.

More and more cities, hotel chains, are totally non-smoking.

I've used both Priceline and Hotwire for many years. The very best deals I've gotten have been far in advance.

Vancouver may be problematic this year, due to all the promos during Olympic coverage...
djkbooks is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 02:15 PM
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Great feedback folks - thank you! Looks like Priceline may not be an option, considering the limitation of only being able to expect room for 2.

Northwestmale - you are dead on - presently, each of my rooms are around the $200 per night range. I'm staying 3 nights in Port Angeles, 3 nights in Vancouver and 2 nights in Seattle. Could potentially save a little money even bidding on two rooms at $80 per night, but seems like a bit of crap shoot to save a few hundred dollars - and right now each of our rooms have views. Since it is my family's first visit to the region (my wife and I spent three days in Seattle 15 years ago) may as well maximize the experience! Might get your perspective on a couple hotels I placed reservations on - in Port Angeles, I booked reservations at both the Red Lion and the Olympic Lodge (both for about same amount) - do you have any insight on which is better? In Vancouver, I booked reservations at both L'Hermitage Hotel and the Blue Horizon - again similar rates. So far, in Seattle, I booked at the Marriott's Springhill Suites in Downtown, but still looking at options. Of course, I can cancel any of these at this point. Any input would be appreciated.
russp3762 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2010, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
I have used Priceline and Hotwire and been successful and happy with my hotel experience. I only use them when I need a room for 2. I read all the info on the websites mentioned above that help you bid on the sites. I have also used them (probably more often) for car rentals. Have gotten good car rental rates from them.

When I book a hotel, I always make sure I can cancel my reservation--and I keep track of when they need to be cancelled. I don't do the pay in full and save. I continue to occasionally do a quick check on, to see if there are any hotel discounts. I booked the Rimrock in Banff the week before we left (cancelled my original reservation)for under $200/nt which was a great deal for a beautiful hotel---and hotels are expensive in Banff.
LindainOhio is offline  
Feb 24th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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russp3762..I stayed at the Marriott Springhill Suites last October and really enjoyed it. They had a great buffet breakfast with lots of choices and really comfy beds! I had booked through travelocity with airfare and had a suite room with kitchen and living area with sofabed. My daughter lives near the Space Needle and they also had a free shuttle on the hour to take you there or to two other popular locations...just had to sign up for it in advance. They were just a few blocks from the bus terminal, so I could even take the $1.75 bus direct from the airport...what a deal. Don't eat at the hotel except for breakfast..dinner there was overpriced and not particularly good either.
Have a great trip!
PatN is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Pat - thank you for your input! I used to be a VERY loyal Marriott customer because I think they have a great rewards program, but since my business travel has cut back so much, I don't accrue the points in any significant amounts these days so I'm opening up to other options - but the Springhill Suites looked like a great option in Seattle!
russp3762 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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Why 3 nights in Port Angeles? It struck me as a "get out of town" place.
tom_mn is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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tom_mn - my original plan was that we arrive in Seattle mid day on day 1, and then would take a leisurely path to PA via Bainbridge Ferry - stopping along the way for lunch and taking in towns along way. Days 2 and 3, we were going to spend time in Olympia National Park - one day going to Hoh rain forest and beach area, and next day Hurricane Ridge and rafting down Elwa River. However, I am now thinking of changing this to only a 1 day stay over to combine Hurricane Ridge and Hoh Rainforest, and then make my way north to Vancouver, and spend two days in Whistler and do rafting while we are up there.
russp3762 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:52 AM
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just bookmarking
hoppock20 is offline  

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