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Do you use websites like Priceline and Expedia? Please enlighten this rookie...

Do you use websites like Priceline and Expedia? Please enlighten this rookie...

Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:50 AM
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Do you use websites like Priceline and Expedia? Please enlighten this rookie...

Greetings all,

Ok, yes, I know I am probably the LAST to jump on the "Bid for Travel" bandwagon. For some unknown reason I have been leery and decided early on to not go down this road, I cannot give you any good explanation why.

But... we are planning a two night stay in Chicago and... well... I just thought, maybe I should give it a whirl.

Have you had good experiences? Am I a fraidy for nothing? Is there anything one should be aware of before venturing out in this uncharted territory?

Anyone who knows me here, knows I am being a bit sarcastic, but the questions posed above are truly sincere.

I may be ready to give it a try.
Tiff
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:55 AM
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Tiff, I've used priceline probably a hundred times and have always had a good experience.

That said, I do so much research ahead of time that I almost make it a fool proof situation.

The first piece of advice I can give you is spend a couple of hours reading the www.BiddingForTravel.com and www.BetterBidding.com sites.

 
Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:08 AM
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I agree with GoTravel about Priceline, and use them quite a bit. But -- do your homework!! Or else you may end up overbidding or getting something other than what you want.

As for Expedia, Yahoo, and those -- I mostly use them for research and have stopped booking on them, mostly. It's a good way to get a listing of comparison prices and choices. Then, I'll go to the websites of the hotel(s) I'm interested in. Hotels have become very aggressive in trying to ensure bookings on their own website, and I can usually match or beat the best prices (except when bidding on Priceline, for example). Also, you have more flexibility to change, cancel, or upgrade your reservation without penalty.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Me too. I use Priceline all the time and get great deals. I never use Expedia or Orbitz, but occasionally Hotwire.

Before you use Priceline, be sure to read all the FAQs on how to bid, free bids, etc.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:13 AM
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Love Priceline! I use expedia and others like them only to check out what going rates are like before I bid on Priceline. I have always had good experiences with them and will continue to use them. As said before...do your homework on how to bid first!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:24 AM
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We have used Priceline and have been very happy with it. Only problem is not knowing the exact hotel until you are the succesful bidder and limited options as to room type/bed type, etc.
I used to use Expedia and Travelocity but have found that once I narrow down my hotel preferences I can go onto the hotel websites and usually get the same price often with more room type options.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Priceline and hotwire are the only "blind" sites that I am aware of, where you don't know what you're getting before you pay. Sites like expedia are just travel agents where you find a hotel or flight for a price, and choose to pay it or not.

First off, they're all legitimate sites with good customer satisfaction on average.

The main things you need to know about sites like priceline and hotwire are that you won't know what you get till you've paid, and then you can't cancel. And with priceline, you are only guaranteed bedding for two people - might be one bed, might be two, might possibly be able to sleep more than two, but you can't count on any specifics.

Read the links above, and if your needs meet what they say, bid. It's an excellent way to save money, and Chicago is really a great city to use priceline for hotels. There are a lot of great possibilities in great locations, and it's usually easy to get really great rates, depending on whether there are any big conventions in town when you'll be there.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 07:39 AM
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Wow, guys, great information, thank you very much.

I am quite pleased with what I have read so far. I know in the past our 'accommodation desires' have been very specific and these sites would not have met our needs, but for this two night stay in Chicago, from everything I see, it may suit us.

I appreciate the time all of you put into your detailed replies. I will continue my research.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 08:23 AM
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Hi Tiff I've used Priceline for EVERYTHING from airfare to cars (really great rates for cars too) usually I start with Orbitz specially if I am doing airfares (get to see all the airlines in one place) also sidestep has becomes somewhat helpful even though they tend to be a little more expensive from there I always go 50 to 60% below their rates I can honestly tell you I've been very fortunate as far as getting upgrades and have never had a problem with getting double beds. The front desk in general will try to accomodate you if they can with the rooms, again maybe it's just luck and I never settle for anything less than 4 stars. Lots of luck
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 08:28 AM
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I've used Hotwire many times with great success (the Clift in SF for $100/night, Westin Bayshore in Vancouver for $65/night). I hear you don't save as much as with Priceline, but the extensive savings I've experienced are sufficient!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 08:30 AM
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When using Priceline, keep your stars high--don't bid on less than 3* unless you're willing to take a big chance.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Also try www.hotels.com, which I use all the time as a good search tool. You get side by side comparisons and rates for your dates of travel.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Tiff, I use Priceline and Hotwire. I use Priceline for Chicago once or twice a year. That market I know well.

Bid high star and your area in Chicago and you can't go wrong. I have gotten Swissotel, Hotel Allegro, Intercontinental, and Hyatt at different times. All were great.

In some markets, and especially in Chicago, IMHO, it is all about timing. The closer you get to your dates, the less real success (great $$) and availability you will get. For more than 2 months out, I have gotten tremendous deals- all between 1/4th to 1/3 rd of the rack rates.

I've won a $69 bid for the Sheraton Crown Center in Toronto for 3 days in May. It's just around 1/4th of the rack rate minimum.

After Priceline availability fails, I always hit Hotwire next.

For the Chicago market, designate LOOP or North Michigan Ave/Water Tower areas separately with bids, IMHO. That way, depending upon which end you'd rather linger the most, you will have prime location. Most tourists like the North Michigan Ave. end- North of the River- better.

I've used Priceline about 10 times in the last 4 or 5 years and Hotwire about once or twice a year as well.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:13 AM
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I've used Priceline quite a few times (for U.S. and Caribbean trips) and have been happy with it. I used Hotwire once for a hotel in the Caribbean (another great rate). I agree with previous posters who say research is key.
I also used www.easyclicktravel.com once for a hotel I couldn't win on Priceline (Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs). Got a great rate for a great hotel.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Tiff - I've also been very pleased with Priceline. I typically bid considerably less than I expect will be successful because, once in awhile, that kind of bid will be successful. That strategy will be even more useful now that Priceline allows rebidding in 24 hours instead of 72.

As an example, about a year ago, I bid on 4-stars in the downtown area of Salt Lake City for $35 and got the Sheraton-City Centre which is an excellent hotel. Last month, I got the Delta-Quebec, another excellent hotel, for $50/night.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:35 AM
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for hotels, I'm a bigger fan of quikbook.com than priceline, hotwire, etc. when I use quikbook, i know exactly what hotel I am looking at, and many of the hotels have the same cancellation policy when purchased thru quikbook as if you booked directly with the hotel, meaning i can cancel or modify my reservations without any penalty. Also, I've been successful getting the hotels to give me rewards points and/or perks by calling the hotel and providing my membership number after i've booked the reservation. I know I pay a bit more on quikbook than priceline, etc., but the ability to cancel or modify the reservation is worth the price to me. for chicago in particular, I've gotten great rates through Quikbook.

For airfares, the websites used to be the best prices, but now the airlines have caught on and I seem to do better with direct bookings.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 09:39 AM
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I agree with pp - Priceline is great if you don't mind the blind factor and has always worked out well for me.

I only look at Yahoo!, Expedia, Hotels.com, etc. to compare prices. If you call the hotel, my experience has been that they will match the price. The biggest thing I don't like about these type of sites is that there's usually no way out of the reservations once you're there. This happened to me on my last trip to Chicago and I ended up paying for a hotel one night that I wasn't there due to an emergency at home. The hotel said they would have not charged me if I had booked with them. You live and you learn!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 10:07 AM
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Outstanding feedback, again many thanks everyone.

I have to agree with you SuzQ, every travel moment up to this point has been quite specific and need to have the flexibility if we need to cancel.

I have never minded paying more for this flexibility and I guess that is what has prevented me from going this route thus far.

I will continue to do my research though, you never know.

You guys are the best and have provided me with very useful information.

Love to all Fodorites,
Your pal, Tiff
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Just remember, when you "win" your bid, you own that room on that date for that price. No "but what if"s are considered. So if you make a typo and put wrong month, your dog gets sick, your job has an emergency, you still own it. Make sure you are clear what each section of city is according to Priceline - your definition of "Downtown" might be very different from theirs.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 11:06 AM
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I use priceline all the time and it has been great almost all the time. The one concern is NYC, when if you are not traveling alone, you may get a room you can barley stand in and have to share it with someone else. Philly and Chicago have been great for priceline.

IF you are traveling with someone, call ahead to find out what type of room you have and try to negotiate a two bed or king bed room ahead of time.
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