by Gretchen Lindell, EdM, MammaWorks
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Afraid of Priceline?
Are you afraid of using Priceline, because you don’t know what type of hotel you are going to end up with? Do you wish you had the guts to try it, because you’d love to save some serious cash on your next trip? Well, this post is for you! I’m revealing a secret way to use Priceline that has saved customers hundreds of dollars and allowed them to stay in quality hotels in areas that they chose.
To begin with, I have used this method many, many times, and I have shared it with my friends. It is really AMAZING…you just have to be willing to take a few minutes to learn this incredible strategy. Since I am giving you this strategy, please be kind enough to use the Priceline link at the bottom of this page to make your next purchase. (Your click will help support the content in this blog and future posts–thank you!)
I recently booked a 3-Star Pittsburgh Hotel for only $77/night. The same hotel is going for $139/night on the hotel’s website! Even the Priceline Express Deal (for what I can safely assume is the same hotel) is going for $95/night. Here’s a snapshot of my reservation compared to the website’s snapshot and to the snapshot of the Priceline Express deal for the exact same dates:
- First, I get ready by creating a table that I will use as a tool to help me. (I created a template in Google Drive that you can use (it’s FREE). Click here to get the file. Then go to File > Download As > Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) or whatever format you prefer to use.
When you get a dialog box at the bottom of your screen, select OPEN.
TIP!!! If you have a newer version of Excel, you may need to “ENABLE EDITING” before you can work with the document.
(Just get the file, no need to do anything with it quite yet. We will revisit this in later steps.)
- Then, go to the Priceline Name Your Own Price page online. Instructions: Go to Priceline.com (Name Your Own Price & Save up to 60% off Hotels!) and enter the place you want to travel to, the dates you want to travel, and the number of rooms you’d like.
- Then click, “Bid Now.”
- You will then arrive at the Name Your Own Price bidding page. This is where the Google Drive document comes into play. Do you see Step 2: Choose Where You Want to Stay? It will look similar to this (I plugged in Pittsburgh for my stay, you’ll plug in whatever town/city you plan to visit. Your Step 2 will look different from mine.)
- Now, write the names of each location into your own table or the Google Drive document that I provided. (For instance, replace Area 1 with Allegheny Valley, Area 2 with Crafton, etc.)
- Once you have added all of the areas to your grid, you’ll need to fill in the Star Levels for each area. You do this by going back to Priceline and selecting each area one by one. When you select an area in Step 2, you will see the available star level hotels for that area in Step 3. (For Allegheny Valley, there are 3*, 2.5*, 2*, and 1* hotels. See graphic below:
- Next UNSELECT Allegheny Valley. (This step is VERY important for correct results…you only want to have one area selected at a time.)
- Then select Crafton and notice that there is only 1* hotels available in Crafton. Add an X under 1 Star/Crafton on the Google Drive document.
- So now that I have all of this information, I can plan my bidding strategy. If you don’t already know what “zone” you want to stay in, now is the time to figure that out. (This is entirely your choice. Make a note of which zone you chose.) For my trip, we decided to stay in Pittsburgh East – Monroeville, which has 1*, 2*, 2.5*, and 3* hotels.
- My plan was to get a 3 Star hotel in Pittsburgh East – Monroeville for the best possible price, so I look at my list and figure out my “free rebid zones.” Free Rebid Zones are zones that Priceline can’t put you in, because they do not have the star level of hotel you are bidding on. (Be careful to only select areas with hotels with less star levels than you are looking for, because Priceline could upgrade you–they just cannot put you in a star level less than what you bid on.) Confused? Let me explain.
My “Free Rebid Zones” are indicated in Green. Each of these areas only have hotels with Star Levels up to 2.5 Stars.
So given this chart, I have one (1) bid available to me for my original bid for Pittsburgh East – Monroeville, and then I have five (5) FREE rebids available to me! This means I have a total of six (6) bids that I can do to get my hotel on Priceline.
- It gets even better! Now that I am armed with 6 chances to hit on the sweet spot for my hotel, I have another tool that I use to help me find out exactly what people are paying for hotels in a particular zone. I use a forum called, “Bidding for Travel.” I go to www.biddingfortravel.com; here’s what the page looks like:
- On the homepage, I navigate down to the USA Hotels section:
And then I search the board’s recent activity for bids successfully placed in the zone where I would like to stay for the same star level I chose. **Incidentally, at the top of each of the boards, there is a list of confirmed hotels that people have posted successful bids for on Priceline. This list will give you a good idea of where you might stay in the area and Star Level you requested. (Buyer Beware Here: This may not be an exhaustive list, although I’ve found them to be pretty accurate. You have to remember that Priceline is doing business with Hotels all the time, so someone new may sign up to work with Priceline at any moment. What you want to remember is that a 3 Star Level, or any Star Level for that matter, has certain level accommodations that they have to provide or risk loosing that Star Level.) Here’s what the hotel list looks like for Pittsburgh East – Monroeville.
So, now I know that there is a VERY high probability that I am going to stay in the Courtyard Pittsburgh Monroeville, the Doubletree Monroeville Convention Center, the Holiday Inn Monroeville, or the Residence Inn Pittsburgh Monroeville/Wilkins Township. (I personally researched each of these hotels on external websites and I was OK with getting any of them.)
- So back to the previous page on the bidding for travel website. I, again, am looking for the most recent successful bid on the zone and star level I am looking to bid on. Here’s what I found:
The most recent successful bid on a 3* hotel in Pittsburgh East – Monroeville was $51 for a stay back in April.
- Knowing that I am traveling to a part of town that tourist frequently stay to visit Kennywood, a nearby amusement park in Pittsburgh, I know right off the bat that the price is going to be higher than $51 dollars. So I am prepared to bid more than this. BUT, not much more. Here’s what I do
- I go back to my priceline bid page and I start the bidding process.
- (Bid #1) Next, I enter my first bid. My first bid for this zone is $60. Then Priceline gives me a warning that my bid probably won’t be accepted. Just ignore this warning and place your first bid. (Before you sign off on the page, make sure to double check that you selected everything correctly. Once you go through this process, you actually pay for the room, so you want to make sure it is correct before you pay for it.)
- Now, Priceline checks to see if your bid is accepted by any hotel. (I apologize, but I do not have screenshots of this part or the parts to follow, because I wrote this post after I go my great deal.)
Priceline was not able to accept my offer for a hotel room. The next screen Priceline says, “We’re sorry we cannot accept your offer of $60 for a hotel room in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Your credit card has not been charged for Request Number … To try your request again, change one or more items with a check.”
Here’s where you use those “Free Rebid Zones.”
- (Bid #2) So, the first rebid zone from my list is “Crafton.” So, I select Crafton and I decide to up my bid to $65. I wait for Priceline to process the offer and again, it is denied.
- (Bid #3) I try again, this time I also check Neville Island, my next Free Rebid Zone. I bid $67. This time, Priceline declined my offer, but came back with a counteroffer of $81 per night. 🙂 Counteroffers are great news, because that’s when you know that you are getting close to the sweet spot, the bottom line price.
- (Bid #4) Instead of accepting Priceline’s offer, I decide to use another one of my Free Rebid Zones. This time, I also check Ohara Township and bid $72. Once again, Priceline doesn’t accept my offer.
- (Bid #5) I raise the increment one more time by $5 to $77 and also check the zone Pittsburgh North and my bid was accepted!
- Yes, it took some extra work and a bit of breath holding. But, the money I saved using this technique allowed me to travel on a very limited budget.
The Bottomline: I paid $231 for 3 nights at a 3 Star Hotel in Monroeville, PA, that I would have paid $417 for had I gone straight to the hotel’s website and purchased it. I can’t complain about that!!!