These days, many Internet users use priceline.com to find the best hotel deals. Compared with other hotel websites, rooms listed on priceline.com aren’t significantly cheaper but what has made Priceline so popular is it allows people to name their own prices for hotel rooms. If an offer is accepted, the winner can potentially save up to 60%. In the following, I will teach you how to successfully bid a hotel room using an example. Meanwhile, I will help you understand a few Priceline “gotcha” which is still a myth to many people. If you follow my Priceline bidding tips, you will have more successes on getting the hotel deals you desire.
Let’s get started by searching
First, go to priceline.com, click on “Hotels” and enter your destination, your check-in and check-out dates. Then click on “Search Now“. Priceline will you a list of hotel rooms matching your search criteria (see picture below). For this example I chose “Ottawa, ON Canada” because that is where I needed a room for the night.
Your “Search Results” page (picture below) may look different for the above search I did. This is because Priceline varies the prices for every search.
Can I Bid on a Specific Hotel or Hotel Room?
No. Both “best deal” (which means bidding) and “express deal” (good deal without bidding) don’t allow you to choose a specific hotel. In both cases you select the Star Level and the area you want the hotel located in and agree to purchase. Priceline will then attempt to fulfill your request and, if successful, charge your credit card and display your reservation including the hotel you will be staying at.
How Much Should I Bid For a Hotel Room?
“What is the maximum I should bid?” many priceline users ask. The easiest way to determine your “bidding ceiling” is by referencing the prices listed under the “express deals” tab. An “express deal” is the price you would pay for a hotel in a certain area with a certain Star Level without going through the bidding process.
Tip: Use “Express Deal” prices as your bidding ceiling.
In the picture below a 3 and 1/2-stars hotel room in Ottawa, Ontario area will roughly cost $73 if you want to buy it without even bidding, so $73 is my bidding ceiling in this example, the maximum I would be willing to bid for a 3 and 1/2-Star hotel room in Ottawa, ON for that night. Easy!
A Word About Priceline Hotel Star Levels
Priceline’s Stars have nothing to do with other hotel ratings and are somewhat misleading. Priceline recently updated their pages, if you hover with your mouse pointer over “What hotel?”, you’ll get an explanation of what a certain star level means. The name-brand hotels listed are examples, but the important statement is: “These hotels include great independent hotels, plus brands similar to:” meaning you might stay at a hotel other than the ones listed.
While the hotels I stayed at often differed from the examples given (see pic for Priceline’s 4-Star guide), they have always been satisfactory or better.
How Does Priceline Bidding Work?
With Priceline, you can offer a bid on hotel room in 3 simple steps:
- Select the area of your destination you want to stay at.
- Select the Star-Level of hotel you desire.
- Name your own price
If your price is accepted you get a confirmation page and an email with the details of your reservation. If your bid was too low, your credit card will not be charged and you can bid again, but only if you modify your bid or wait 24 hours before submitting the same bid again.
Tip: When bidding on a lower star level hotel you should lower your bid.
Modifying your bid means “adding” another area and/or adding a lower Star-Level to your offer. You can NOT take areas away or increase the Star-Level. You do NOT have to change the price; however, if you lower the Star-Level you might want to consider lowering your bid. Generally higher Star-Level means higher quality hotel and higher price 😉
Lets Do This! Priceline Bidding Step-By-Step.
With the “bidding upper ceiling” in mind, click on the “Best Deals” tab and let’s start the actual 3-steps bidding process.
Next you need to figure out what the lowest average price per star level is. Remember: These are Priceline star level and have NOTHING to do with other classifications! (1) Select the highest star level within your price range and then (2) toggle each area to see the average price for that area. Do this for each star level you might want to book. All you have to remember is which area has the lowest price; this will help you either avoid staying in that area accidentally or allow you to bid strategically by starting with the cheapest area and simply adding areas (the more expensive ones) to have more bids.
–> Step 2: Select the highest Star-Level you are willing to pay for.
–> Step 3: Enter your bid. My first bid is always 40% of the highest star level I am considering (average price * 0.4 = bid) going up from there, usually in $5 increments, depending on how many bids I have.
–> Step 4 (Optional): If your bid failed, add an area you would consider staying in, increase the bid and try again. Do this until there are no additional acceptable areas left, then start adding lower Star-Levels and adjust your bid based on the average price for the lower Star-Levels.
Tip: You can add areas and lower star levels to bid several times without having to wait 24 hours.
In the example this means you have 5 areas which equals a minimum of 5 bids plus a few for lowering star levels! Depending on the area you want to book your hotel in, you might have a different number of star levels, but in Niagra Falls, Ontario 4-Star is the highest. My preferred hotels are 2.5 Stars and up, preferably 3 or more.
Tip: You don’t have to increase your bid to bid again.
Priceline will try to discourage you to bid this low, just ignore! I have gotten hotel rooms for close to 60% off in spite of Priceline’s warnings…
Most often you won’t get a hotel at 60% off, but hey, why not try? Repeat your bid as often as possible, then wait 24 hours and try again! In my case, I needed a room for that night, so my options were limited. If everything failed I could have bought a 3-Star room for $46 which is 45% off, not too bad 😉
Your Hotel Deal is in the Bag!
I got to bid 7 times and ended up with a 3-Star room for $42 instead to the Express Deal’s $46, for a total of $56.21 at the Wyndham Garden Falls View Niagra Falls. Not bad compared to the $80 (plus tax) I would have paid otherwise.
Our stay was great, especially considering the price we paid. It didn’t quite look like the hotel pictured at the top, then again this was Ottawa not some tropical destination…
This post illustrates the basic strategies for successful bidding on priceline.com. There is a way to dramatically increase the number of bids beyond what’s described in this post. For the advanced version, go to:
Image Credit: costanavarino