Priceline - hotel price shopping

Jul 7th, 2004, 08:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 214
Priceline - hotel price shopping

I hate to admit this, but I've NEVER even tried Priceline or similar type websites where you go to try and find great deals on travel. Can someone give me some pointers on how to do this process and tips!

I'd also love feedback from those who have tried, good or bad!

mlarson is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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mlarson: I know how you feel. I never used to use Priceline until someone on Fodors mentioned It is a great web site (no cost to you) that tells you which hotels Priceline offers and offers great tips on how to bid. People post their winning bids or losing bids on it. People also post reviews of hotels they've stayed at using Priceline. Make sure you read the FAQ section thoroughly. So far, my experience with Priceline hotels has been good. I've only used Priceline for hotel stays. I haven't used it for vacations pkgs or plane tickets or car rentals. Good luck.
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,211
Go to and read every word on the HOTEL FAQ section (the section below annoucements). If you want assistance, you can get it on the website, but make sure you answer all the questions on the assistance form completely, or else you'll get some "unfriendly" replies from one of the administrators on BFT.

Another way to familiarize yourself with BFT's website is to go to the section of the region/city which you want to bid in, and read other people's posts. That way, you can see how the site works.
yk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Fyi..some examples.
The best win we've had so far is the Omni in Mexico (Riviera Maya) for $80/night. Lowest rate on hotel's web site was $169/night. We loved the hotel.
We've also won the Hyatt in Grand Cayman for Feb. 2005 (high season) for $120/night. The lowest rate on Hyatt's web site was $415/night.
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,211
Also, go to and read the FAQs under hotel (assuming that's what you want to bid for).
yk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:24 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 214
Thanks, I'll give "" a try! Just what I need, another website to get hooked on! I'm a fodor junkie now! Not even planning a trip any time soon, but still visit this site daily!

I Know, weird!
mlarson is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:25 AM
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Oh and please be aware Priceline is non-refundable and you cannot change your dates once your bid has been accepted. I have read they have made exceptions but it's rare. You can buy cancellation insurance with Priceline (do take a look on their web site to see what it's good for).
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,211
btw, also check out
It is similar to BFT, but according to other Fodorites, the folks on betterbidding are friendlier when it comes to giving assistance. However, bettebidding doesn't get as much traffic as BFT, and as a result, not as many winning bids posted as BFT.
yk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 579
You actually get your best hotel deals in larger cities or tourist destinations. Some of the best deals we have gotten are $69 for Walt Disney World Dolphin this July, $40 Holiday Inn South Beach, Miami or $45 for Hyatt Regency Chicago -- they do offer Priceline choices in small cities, but I think because competition etc isn't as strong as the hotels don't provide Priceline with really great deals.

For example, the hotel may be available for $79 on the corporate website, but your best deal on Priceline may only be $45-55 dollars, plus their fees (about $7 or so and taxes). You do save, just not nearly as much!

I try to get Priceline deals everytime I go, and Biddingfortravel is a great site for information.
4khansen is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,211
One last comment:
I have used PL to book 5 different hotels in the last 3 months, and was pleased with what I got and the amount I paid. However, I also did a lot of "homework" beforehand. If that's not something you are prepared to do, then PL may not be for you. And if you're someone who wants a particular hotel, PL is not for you either.

Also, don't forget to read hotel reviews. I know some folks don't bid on a certain "* level" in certain "zones" of a city because of fear of getting a particular PL hotel that has bad reviews.
yk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 53
I just got a hotel in Manhattan for 140 which usually goes for 400.00 a night. It was the Grand Hyatt hotel. The only problem that I ran into was that I am traveling with my wife and 2 children and on Priceline there is no way of asking for a specific bed type. So when I got the room I had to call the hotel and ask for 2 double beds. Well the operator told me that since I got the room through priceline that she could not change it. As you probably know my stress level just went up 1000 percent.
Well I called priceline and they had one of their travel agents call the hotel to ask for this change. The Hyatt worked with her and said that she would note that I would like 2 double beds but would be based on availability but if needed the room is big enough for a roll away bed. I calmed down.
So I will go visit this website and find out how this works for families because I like Priceline because you do get great deals. And if you are traveling with just 2 people then it is a no brainer but with a family you might have to take chances.
alexusfr is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 155
I used Priceline in April for a car rental in Phoenix. Was a very good experience. I had researched on Biddingfortravel and actually went lower than the bid I saw and it was accepted. Turned out to be cheaper than using SuperShuttle for the two days I was there, plus much more schedule friendly.

SEW is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Great point, alexusfr! I tried once or twice calling the hotels beforehand to request a particular kind of room (double vs king) and I've always got the "you cannnot request because you booked thru PL" answer. I ended up getting the kind of room I wanted each time when I checked-in, except for once when I didn't arrive at the hotel until 10pm. It wasn't a big deal for me, but I can imagine that being a stress for someone else who needs a particular kind of bed configuration.

Another thing to keep in mind when bidding on PL - make sure you have set a "maximum" bid in your mind before you bid. I have read on other threads before, that people get all carried away when bidding, and ended up paying more than what they wanted and overbidded. If you get rejected at your maximum bid, just stop, and try again in 72hrs. The hotels release more rooms from time to time.
yk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It clearly states on biddingfortravel that you can't expect rooms for more than 2 in NYC with a Pricline bid. My guess is it also states that on the Priceline website. There has also been some debate as to whether you can specify kind of bed setup in NYC. I think you can request 2 beds but others here say they won't guarantee 2 beds on Priceline. Read what it says on bft.

There's no question there are downsides. It is non-cancelleable (although I gather there's now insurance you can buy). They do often section larger cities into strange areas so that's something to watch.

There is a recent thread about using PL for airfare that sounds awful

Other people have complained about getting flights at odd hours of the day and losing 2 days of a vacation.

But for hotels, as long as you know what you're doing and are familiar enough with the city, it can be great.
mclaurie is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 09:24 AM
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mclaurie is right about the flights. you should not use priceline if it's for a short trip. the trip might be a lot shorter than you planned.
plus if you have little ones, it's not ideal. we have a 2-year-old and as much as we love priceline for hotel stays, we'd never do it for flights because we wouldn't want to get odd departure hours or long layovers (you can't specifically request for a non-stop) and get a cranky toddler in the process.
Jul 7th, 2004, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 231
I have never used Priceline but for some reason, am addicted to biddingfortravel. com LOL. I will say, that over time, I've come to see Priceline as a valuable service. But you have to know what you're doing and understand what you're signing up for. For example: If you're unsure about your vacation plans, do NOT use Priceline. If you're in "love" with a certain hotel, do NOT use Priceline because even though others may have gotten the hotel, YOU might not.

Then there are the times recently when biddingfortravel sounds like a soap opera due to people who feel they've been "done wrong". These soaps seem to center around people who have 5 or 7 people in their travel party yet are put out when a hotel they've won on Priceline won't accomodate them or at times have added on additional fees to cover the other people. These people blame Priceline for this, even though it seems clear Priceline only guarantees room for TWO people. Yes, there have been cases - lots of them apparently - where the hotel will agree to make arrangements for the other people. However, they don't HAVE to; that's not part of the Priceline agreement from what I understand.

As I've stated before, I think Priceline can be a valuable service for those who meet the criteria. But READ CAREFULLY.

Again, JMHO
Cats_Do_Dance is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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alexusfr's problems trying to get 4 people into 1 PL room are typical of what happens with inadequate research and preparation. PL's 2-person policies are quite clear, and are restated in BFT's hotel FAQ, with a specific re-statement on the link to New York hotels.

When I'm bidding on a "new" city, I print out BFT's list of hotels for the city, then go to the message boards where people report what they've won, noting next to each hotel the price that was paid. Going back about 2 or 3 months takes less than 15 minutes and tells me which hotels I am most likely to get. Then I check the reviews and rule out zones with hotels I don't want.

Here are some additional caveats:

PL often redraws the zone boundaries in larger cities. So re-check their zone maps EVERY TIME you bid.

When BFT adds new hotels to its lists, it adds them at the bottom, so the hotels lowest on the list can be the ones you're most likely to win.

Do not overlook PL's policy of sometimes automatically "upgrading" you to a higher star-rating level -- don't bid for a 2.5* if you don't like BFT's listed 3*'s for that zone. They will never put you in a different zone than you bid on.

Remember that the prices reported on BFT's lists often include overbids, some of them quite high, but also include high bids that were needed because of extra-busy calendars. Start low, start early, be patient!
Anonymous is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 623
I'm another priceline fan! My husband and I have used it frequently over the years and find it allows us to do more traveling since we're no longer paying a forture for hotel rooms. Just this week, I bid $38.00 for a 3 star in Memphis and got it and also bid for a 4 star in New Orleans and got it for $50.00 (in the French Quarter)!

Before I do any bidding, I always go to both and and research first. I look at the hotels offered in the city I'm going to and then read any reviews that have been written. I also read the thread to see what recent hotels have been won and at what prices. I list the ones I'd like to stay at and then go to to read reviews there too.

I don't actually do my bidding through the BFT website; I just go back to priceline and bid directly there. Out of all the hotels I've won, I've only disliked one of them and even it was fine for one night. As many have stated, it pays to do a bit of research before bidding and you'll usually end up very happy with the price you get.
Lee4 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2004, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 741
I used BetterBidding website, and there is a list that shows Hotwire hotels. I was able to determine what hotel i was buying, and it was indeed that hotel. You still are taking a chance, but it worked for me in Chicago. I ALWAYS have my plans and plane tickets Firm before I do Priceline since you can't change it. I've lost a few car rentals, because I changed the dates.
Take your time and plan/research/save!
beachkomer is offline  
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