Priceline.co.uk - "Name Your Price" hotel deal guide
You! Yes, you! You're a penny-pinching traveller who wants the moon on a stick! Not the real moon, that would be disastrous - not only for you and stick but for marine life, tectonic stability and the planet in general. It's only a figure of speech, see. Anyway, if you like to travel and stay in marvellous hotels for a lot less, here's another guest post from Emma on how to get the best out of Priceline.co.uk:
Are you interested in staying in posh hotels for a fraction of their normal cost? This is a guide on how to do just that, by taking advantage of hotel bidding strategies on Priceline.co.uk. Additionally, we'll show you all the secret tips and tricks to getting your swanky hotel rooms even cheaper.
How does Priceline.co.uk "Name Your Own Price" work?
The Name Your Own Price feature on Priceline.co.uk is simply an auction style process which lets you bid for cheap hotel rates. Priceline break it down as follows:
- Choose town and dates
- Select the area where you want to stay
- Select the star rating and name your price
- Find out which hotel you'll be staying at
The hotels are able to offer great discounts on their unsold hotel rooms, enabling you to bag a bargain. These are all reputable hotels, and you can be assured you are getting a good deal. You make a bid stating your chosen city, the area, the minimum star rating, and the maximum price you are willing to pay. Price Line may either reject your bid, or accept it and allocate you a hotel room that fulfils your wishes.
Where can you use it?
Priceline's "Name Your Price" hotel bidding feature is best for major cities around the world, and is particularly good for hot deals on American hotels. I have used it in Toronto, Paris, Barcelona… to name a few locations. It is really best suited for people travelling alone or in couples. It's not ideal for families, or any group outside the norm. You can really only book standard rooms with this feature, not suites or any sort of deluxe rooms. If you win a room, it will accommodate two adults.
What Star Rating should I choose?
Remember that European star ratings might not be quite up to the same standards as North American standards. If you're doing a bit of research, check TripAdvisor to see the quality of hotels of your chosen rating in your chosen area.
How low should I start my Priceline bidding?
Priceline recommend that you look at the leading online travel sites and take 40% off for an indication of how much to bid on your cheap hotel rooms. I recommend that you start lower. You might be declined, but it will give you a general idea of how much you should be bidding. On the other hand, you could get lucky and your low-ball bid will be accepted! You can research how much people are paying for what you are interested in - check out the betterbidding forums.
When should I make my hotel bids?
It's generally believed that you can get yourself great hotel deals if you are able to book as late as possible with Priceline hotels, ideally within the last few weeks before your journey.
Should I book a back-up hotel?
Some other hotel sites and travel agencies allow you to book a hotel, and cancel free of charge. Usually, you must cancel with 24 or 48 hours of your first night, in order to get a full refund. One option to cover all your bases is to book a back-up hotel, well in advance of your trip, making sure it has a no-penalty cancellation policy. Then, a few weeks before you travel, get to work on the Priceline deals. If you manage to get a super-bargain hotel room through Priceline.co.uk, just cancel the previous booking, at no cost to yourself.
When do I find out which hotel I have won?
Price Line tell you immediately by email, informing you of the name of the hotel.
How often can I make a bid on Priceline.co.uk?
Once every 24 hours, unless you add zones or change hotel ratings. I believe this limit is enforced per account, and per IP address. If you want to try for a few extra bids, you could make your first bid through your Priceline account from your work computer. If it fails, try it again from your partners account at your home computer.
How do I get free re-bids?
Top secret trick! You can manipulate the Priceline deals in order to give you free re-bids. Simply stated, just add an area that doesn't have a hotel rating that you want. Check the hotel ratings in each area of the city you are interested in. For example, if you want a 4* hotel in a certain area, you might notice that some other areas in the same city don't have 4* or 5* hotels listed. Adding these areas to your auction means that you can up your original bid, and get another free bid within the normal 24 hour period.
Say we want a 4* hotel in Las Vegas, preferably in the "West Of Strip." If you've made a little bid and it was declined, you can get yourself a free re-bid by adding an area without any 4* or 5* hotels. Adding "Nellis Las Vegas Speedway" into the chosen zones will get you that extra bid, as the hotels in that zone only go up to 2.5*. You get a free bid because they cannot give you a 4* hotel in an area that doesn't have 4* hotels, but you have fulfilled their bidding conditions by adding another area. Might sound a little bit complicated, but it works!
I want more free bids!?
For those of you who are a little more adventurous, there is a further addition to this free re-bid trick to get Priceline deals. Using various permutations of bidding, you can multiply your free re-bids. I'll not explain this in detail, as it is extremely complicated, and there's an excellent thread here about it.
What happens if I get a counter-bid from Priceline.co.uk?
Sometimes, Price Line will make you a counter-offer after you make a bid on a cheap hotel room. They make YOU the offer for the hotel room, at a slightly higher price than your last bid. If you are happy with that deal, you could just accept their offer. However, counter-offers tend to mean that you are getting close to their price-point and it could be a good idea to make another bid. On your next bid, try bidding half-way between your last offer and the Priceline counter offer, to see how it goes.
How much will I end up paying?
Remember that the bidding price is not the final price you will pay. There is a small admin fee charged as well, but they state this clearly on the final page, before you complete the bid on your Priceline hotel.
What if I made a mistake in my dates?
Tough! Once you make your Priceline hotel bid and it is accepted, you own that hotel room and your credit card will be charged. There are no refunds, so you are stuck with your choice. Double check that you put in all the correct details before making your final bid confirmation.
Research research research
As mentioned in the Lastminute Top Secret Hotels guide, research is the key. Use the tips in that article to try and figure out which hotel you might get from Price Line, by simply researching it online.
What if I want extras?
Once you have won your cheap PriceLine hotels, you can contact the hotel directly if you would like to arrange extras. For example, non-smoking rooms, or twin beds. This is not an obligation for the hotel, but they might have good customer service and be able to arrange that for you. And when you arrive, you could even be cheeky and try out the $20 trick.
Let us know in the comments below what great hotel deals you manage to get.
Thanks to Anna on Bargainmoose.