I rarely book a hotel through traditional sites. I have had great success with Priceline. I use the sites that I described in yesterday’s post to help me figure out where to start my bidding. Priceline allows you to name your own price for a hotel stay. You enter the star level of hotel you want and the area. You are told the hotel you won after the bid is accepted. If your bid is not accepted, you either need to wait a day to bid again, or you need to change either the level of hotel you’re looking for or the location. However, if you implement the following bidding strategy, you can essentially perform the same search multiple times in one day.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to take a trip to San Francisco and stay at a 4-star hotel in Nob Hill. The first thing you do is go to the Name Your Own Price section of site. Enter in San Francisco, CA as your location and the dates you want to travel. After that you’ll be taken to a page that shows a map of San Francisco with all the different areas. The first thing you need to do is figure out which level of hotels exist in each section. Here’s what is was when I searched:
- Civic Center South – 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
- Financial District – 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
- Fisherman’s Wharf – 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2
- Japan Town – 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
- Marina – 1, 2
- SFO North - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
- SFO International Airport - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
- SOMA - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
- San Mateo - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
- South San Francisco - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
- Union Square East - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
- Union Square West – Nob Hill - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
Notice that many of the areas do not have 4-star hotels (Civic Center South, Fisherman’s Wharf, Japan Town, Marina, SFO North, South San Francisco). These are the areas that we’re going to use to get us free rebids. Since they don’t have any of the star level we want, we can add them in to our search when our bid isn’t accepted, and that will allow us to rebid. And we know there’s no way we could end up with a hotel in that area because they don’t have any 4-star hotels.
Priceline requires that you change the combination that you’re searching every time you rebid. So here’s what you would do (until you get a win):
- Bid 1 – bid on your preferred location of Nob Hill
- Bid 2 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Civic Center South
- Bid 3 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf
- Bid 4 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Japan Town
- Bid 5 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Marina
- Bid 6 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and SFO North
- Bid 7 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and South San Francisco
Now we’ve exhausted all the first combinations. If you still haven’t received a winning bid, continue on including 2 locations.
- Bid 8 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Fisherman’s Wharf
- Bid 9 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Japan Town
- Bid 10 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Marina
I think you get the idea. You just keep adding in locations and changing the combinations of locations until you get a winning bid. If you don’t win the first day, wait 24 hours, and try the strategy again.
Here’s a good site that talks about the strategy in more detail: http://www.squidoo.com/PricelineAssistant.
Up tomorrow: My favorite non-travel deal sites