Priceline and Hotwire Booking: 10 Tips Learned When Booking Hotel Rooms in Bulk | Frommer's
Priceline offers different types of deals. Let's use hotel rooms as an example: Priceline's "Retail" deals reveal both the hotel name and the price, so you know exactly what you're getting. The "Name Your Own Price" feature lets you bid on a hotel price, but you won't see the hotel's name either—that's called an "opaque" deal. Search Express Deals first, then try this strategy that we heard directly from Priceline: "For hotels, travelers should find the lowest Express Deals hotel bid being offered, then take an additional 5 percent off and use that as their Name Your Own Price bid.
Chances are you'll get a room," says Brian Ek, Priceline's travel expert. With airline tickets, try going 20 percent below the typical published fares.
And with rental cars, go 20 percent below the published rates. For very last-minute getaways, install Priceline's free app and scroll through the hotel listings for Tonight Only Mobile Deals—they're highlighted in orange. Think of it as Priceline's version of Hotel Tonight. Here's the cool part: There you'll find special deals that aren't listed on the desktop site. As we've mentioned in past stories , the hotel's front desk clerk wields immense power.
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Get in good with her, and your discounted stay could take a luxe turn. Your Priceline hotel is required to treat you the same as it does its guests who have paid full price. It's the law. If you get the sense you're being mistreated or ignored because you're a Priceline guest, contact Priceline immediately either via their customer service email form or at This is a search menu.
The city and days of my trip are at the top and the specific areas of Charlotte I chose airport are in the spot you would usually see the hotel name. The price is prominently displayed along with the percentage you will save off of their regular price. One thing I have always looked for when shopping for a hotel is the user ratings.
7 Tips for Booking Travel on Priceline
In our example the first hotel listed has a user rating of 7 out of I like to see hotels that are in the 8s or above. That seems like the separator for me. In our example Priceline will guarantee a rating is at least a 7. If you look just below the amenities you will see this Express Deals hotel also shows a bed choice option is available. Remember, the user ratings only show you the rating of your hotel within a range.
Taxes vary -- even between websites. If you're trying to eke every penny out of your journey, Priceline and Hotwire charge different taxes and fees on the same opaque reservation. Doing intense, crazy Priceline bidding can take all day.
When an Express Deal is a Good Deal
You really need to ask: how much is my time worth? Prices can go down as you get closer to your travel date, then sharply up in the last few days. I found rates at the same hotel to be lower if I was bidding a few weeks out, higher if I was bidding more than a month away, and sometimes even higher bidding only one day in advance.
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Understand that prices can vary for the same hotel over different dates. The "free rebid" is the one Priceline tactic you must know. Priceline strategies can get incredibly arcane. I go over many of them in my book, Priceline for Dummies.
Priceline Hotel: Priceline "Express Deals" Compared to Bidding
But the one strategy you must know is the "free rebid. If a zone has no hotels at your star level, you can add that zone to a bid without a risk of getting the undesirable zone -- because it has no hotels at your star level. That's a free rebid, which can let you raise your bid without waiting for 24 hours. Two stars is never safe. Priceline and Hotwire contract with excellent, name-brand chains; think Holiday Inn for three stars, Embassy Suites for three and a half, and Hyatt for four stars. But once you start poking around below three stars, you may end up in some moldy motels.
Two-and-a-half stars can be safe if you comb through hotel lists and make sure there are no independently run, poor-quality motels in the set. Two-star lists almost always have a sour apple in the bunch.