Bidding on Priceline

Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:40 PM
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TravelinAnn has a good point about the hotel reviews.

Priceline has, of late, sent a follow-up email asking for a critique of the hotel.

However, I use biddingfortravel more and report not just the successful bids, but quite frequently will also post a review of the hotel, especially when there has been a year or two since the last review.

Once in a while I'll also post a review on Tripadvisor along with photos, since Tripadvisor has a "Traveler's Photos" feature.

joebear: I'd say that your rewards on bidding on Priceline is directly proportional to the amount of research you do, especially on biddingfortravel.

Please come back and tell us how you did!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:14 PM
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Maybe I should clarify my post a little bit. While I have received a "substandard" room a couple of times on priceline, that hasn't happened at a greater rate than for non-priceline rooms. I don't hold that against anyone -- I travel a lot, and sometimes things just happen, and as long as the hotel is accommodating, no harm, no foul. And please don't think I'm an "impossible to please" traveler. We're talking major cleanliness issues (I'll spare the details), doors that won't deadbolt and broken tv's.

But what almost always happens when I book with Priceline in a big city is that I'm put on a low floor without a view. Which is a little surprising, given that rooms probably wouldn't be available on priceline if the hotel were at capacity. That's not a complaint so much as a statement of my experience. It's a trade-off I'd gladly make for the savings.

My point, I guess, is that if you're going to Chicago and are dying to have a view of the lake, priceline probably isn't the way to go. Maybe you'll get it if you're lucky, but if you want to make a special request for it, I think you're better off going through the hotel directly.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:50 PM
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I spent years working in the hotel industry at a 4-diamond property (which is now what I most often target through Priceline). In response to some issues noted on this thread:

Each day, the Front Desk will go through that day's arrivals and block rooms (there is typically a "back of house" area that is not visible to customers for this activity). This is partly art/partly science. Naturally, guaranteed rooms take precedence over non-guaranteed. Contracted room types (such as conventions) must be considered. Frequent guest memberships are given a priority -- as a Hilton/Marriott/Holiday Inn frequent guest having one of the higher levels, my request comes before some others. Then we have the resellers. That might be a travel agency or certain convention types (Amway is a good example -- they buy the rooms dirt cheap and resell them to members at a rich profit while extolling them as a "reward.") Yet another type is Priceline -- they have purchased the room at a certain price from Priceline, probably a room block -- and then resell it to bidders. Nothing wrong with that, the hotel wants to fill the rooms and Priceline is performing a service to both hotel and consumer. But -- those types of rooms really take last priority.

When I win a Priceline bid, I contact the hotel and put in a request for king/non smoking. Usually they will accept it, not always. This type of reservation is considered "run of house," meaning that the room type is assigned at checkin. If your preferred room type has not already been blocked for priority reservations, then you have a good chance of being accommodated. One thing I also do is to ask the Reservations agent to note my membership number on the reservation. That helps me to track where I've been, but it is also something that is considered when blocking rooms. I have a better chance of getting my room request honored or even getting an upgraded room that way. But even checking in early in the day doesn't guarantee that room is available -- it may have been blocked, or it's too early for the housekeepers to have "turned" the room back into inventory for check-in.

Again, as others have noted, I am only guaranteed a room to accommodate 2 people -- either 2 twins or 1 double, which is not that uncommon in larger cities such as New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., etc. You can only safely plan on that; anything more is gravy.
sludick is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2008, 05:19 PM
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I dont know about hotel bidding, i reckon you can get some pretty good hotel deals at last minute sites but when i went to New York (as a tourist) i bought a new york pass which saved me a heap! I found it through this site i think its Australian, im not sure.

Good luck with getting a good deal! Internet rocks for cheap hotels and travel!

jb2008 is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Hello Patrick,

You perhaps have a point about how one may secure a good room through Priceline only if the hotel is not booked to capacity, and yet, my most recent experience -- July 2007, Chicago, was at the height of summer tourist season, during Lollapalooza, for pete's sake. The hotel -- the Hilton -- was most certainly at capacity, but I was still able to secure not one, but 2 very satisfactory rooms. Both were non-smoking and away from the elevator (non-negotiable for me.) Both had 2 bathrooms, both were very clean and comfortable, and one had an excellent view of Lake Michigan.

And I secured them through Priceline for $89 per night.

Was it luck? Maybe. Timing? Sure! Let me add that at $89 per night, I in no way expected a penthouse suite and concierege service. But I was treated respectfully -- like any other paying customer.

And it has worked for me *multiple* times -- eight, to be precise. How many times have *you* booked a room through Priceline?

I don't doubt that your experience was genuine, and awful. But it does bother me that you use this *one* experience over and over as an example of how terrible Priceline is. You are respected here, and it troubles me that someone may avoid Priceline because you've declared that it's too risky.

Personally, I'm willing to take the risk if it means I can save 30-60% over rack rate.

I think Priceline is a wonderful, *consumerist* tool that gives us a rare power over market greed and craziness. Lose the fear and just try it.

Brookside is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 04:03 AM
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Brookside, I have no idea what you're talking about. Who said, "Priceline is so terrible?" Certainly not me. Who said using Priceline is too risky? Again, certainly not me. Nor have I EVER suggested you won't get good rooms at Priceline even when the hotel is at capacity. I suggest you actually read my posts instead of twisting the words. The only reason I brought that up was because your comments were seemingly insisting that a hotel would actually give the Priceline guest the BEST room and a full paying guest the WORST room as if they valued Priceline guests even more than their full paying or regular guests. If you are naive enough to seriously believe that then I can't help you.

I'm sorry you seem to think it is unfair of me to actually give my one negative experience with Priceline. What happened to me, happened to me. It wasn't the end of the world and it was no reason for me or anyone else NOT to use Priceline in the future. You can say that you always get great rooms and that's fine, but I'm not allowed to say it was pointed out to me that our "bad" room was because we booked with Priceline and that's all they had left? But when people are suggesting the hotels will actually FAVOR Priceline buyers and give them the BEST of the only two rooms available even if there is a full paying customer standing there ready to take the other one, I think it's worth letting people know that is a silly idea. The original poster clearly was ASKING about Priceline. I think it's unfair of you or others to suggest that using them may actually get them SPECIAL treatment because hotels don't want to "alienate" the Priceline users -- as if they would be more willing to "alienate" their own regualar customers.

Thank you sludick for saying exactly what I was saying. I'm glad you didn't get attacked like I did for saying it. It's nice to hear the logical assessment of how it works from someone who is or was actually on the end of "giving" out the rooms. "Priceline is performing a service to both hotel and consumer. But -- those types of rooms really take last priority." That is no reason NOT to use Priceline, but it's smart to understand how it works in the real world.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 12:06 PM
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Patrick, coming from a hotel background, and I'm sure OO can vouch for this also, whoever pays the least gets the worst room.

Now while the majority of hotel rooms within the same hotel are going to be of the same level, there are always going to be a few rooms that are really small or look out over the dumpsters or noisy.

If a hotel is full, whomever paid the least for their reservation will get the worst room.
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Exactly, Go Travel. That's why I mentioned it was illogical to assume that a hotel might even give preferential treatment to a Priceline customer because Priceline gives them so much business or because they wouldn't want to "alienate" them.

As I've said each time, in most cases that won't be an issue at all, but I think people should realize that when a hotel is full and there are only two rooms left, the cheaper bidder is NOT going to get the better room while the full paying customer gets the bad one. Yet at no time do I mean to suggest that's a reason NOT to use Priceline -- especially when you're saving a ton of money per night!

I really don't know why simply pointing out "the way it works" is considered a bad thing here or why it is interpreted that I'm convincing people not to try it.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 12:41 PM
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Well, you certainly couldn't say that it has played out that way at all, for me. I've used Priceline probably 20 to 25 times in about 10 years. And almost universally for large cities, like SF, NYC, D.C., Chicago, St.Louis, Toronto, San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale, & Detroit.

And honestly, I have been treated superbly, never been shorted anything, and at least 3 times I can think of, have gotten upgraded to a room beyond size and condition, that I would assume by the star rating that I took. Especially one time in St. Louis at Cupples Station Westin- I was upgraded to a corner suite with view of the ball park, and a 20 x 10 separate marble bathroom spa connected to the room.

I'm not saying you are wrong. Only that the two worst rooms thing, or 1 "good" room and 1 "bad" room have never happened to me. Nor have I had to take a wrong bed size or smoking when I wanted other.

I guess I'm super lucky.

But the only thing I do have experience with on the down side- is not being able to get more than about 4 days of length. Both times I wanted 5 or 6 in Tahoe, NYC or D.C.- I have not been able to "play".

I refuse to bid high amounts (anything over 3/5ths of rack rate), because if that is the case, why should I not have a cancellable or pay as I use situation, IMHO.

I've never had the poor room thing using hotwire or quikbook either.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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JJ5, no one's arguing with you. It is extremely likely in fact that at none of those stays you did, did you arrive when there were only two rooms left, one good and one bad, and there was a full paying customer waiting for his room. The odds of all those things happening at once are extremely slight! And as long as the hotel has a couple of good rooms left, then of course there's NO reason to suspect you won't get one.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 02:10 PM
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I sort of agree with everyone. But I have read more than a few stories of top-level elites paying top dollar also getting the worst rooms, and not necessarily because that was the only one left. I don't think that generally happens, but there's no way to be 100% sure.

My Priceline experience has been that I have generally gotten normal rooms, have sometimes received upgraded executive rooms, have often gotten rooms on renovated floors, and have always gotten an acceptable bed option. Once I got a room near a creaky elevator, and the hotel was pretty full, but I can't be positive Priceline was the reason.

In short, paying full dollar probably increases your chances of getting a better room, but I'm not sure it increases your chances as much as it would be logical to assume.
WillTravel is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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I have had excellent experiences with Priceline.

I'm guessing that everything turns on which rooms are available the moment you are checking in. The "worst" rooms could already be occupied or not cleaned yet.

I sincerely doubt that most desk clerks are familiar with the rooms/views. Details other than price level/beds may or may not be in the computer.

The only "bad" room I was ever assigned with Priceline was one at the Waldorf Hilton in London, which was in a corner of the interior and looked onto a rusty fire escape. But, I returned to the front desk and received keys for a room on the other side with a beautiful view of the street and buildings across. The desk clerk told us we were given the original room because it was "quieter". But, we did not find the street traffic unpleasant at all.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 03:55 PM
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From a hotelier's standpoint, whomever pays the least gets the worst room available.

If your hotel isn't sold out, that worst room may be on the 17th floor overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

If the hotel is sold out, it may be on the sixth floor overlooking the city of San Francisco.

Not all 'bad' rooms are roach infested closets.

They are just considered less desirable than other rooms available on that particular date.

Think of hotels in NYC like The Mandarin Oriental, TIOR, The Carlyle, The Four Seasons or The St. Regis. Does anything think they have any bad rooms?

No but I'm sure THEY think they have some bad rooms.

Also, if the hotel is sold out and the penthouse is the only room open for your one night stay, you may get the penthouse. It could have been that the penthouse was booked for the seven nights up to your stay and the seven nights after and it is empty for that one night.

There are literally millions of different hotel reservation configurations within a single hotel.

Dates, days of the week, time of the year, length of stay, room inventory, etc all play huge roles in which room you get.

But, the bottom line remains that whichever customer pays the least gets the worst room available for those dates. The worst room available doesn't mean the worst room in the hotel.

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