Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 9, 2011 Priceline demystified: Consumer Website of the Week

Do you fear losing control? Do you eschew Priceline's "name your own price" option, concerned that since you don't know the name of the hotel before you're booked, you'd end up in a terrible room in a remote neighborhood?
I used to have this phobia before I learned about the Priceline bidding method promoted by Consumers' Checkbook that ensures a reservation for a high-end room in the area you desire at a price lower than you can arrange through most online sites. It still feels a little daring ... but hey, we all need some excitement in our lives.
If you clicked through to that earlier blog post, you may think the process sounds complicated in writing. However, The Bidding Traveler, which I discovered through, takes all the confusion out of the technique, so we're featuring it as our Consumer Website of the Week.
Just enter your destination and travel dates, and the site walks you through the process of entering bids manually. It even ...
... suggests good starting and ending bids based on what others have won in the past, and lists of hotels that users have won. (Side note: There are also Priceline research sites such as, where users share details about their winning bids.)

Or, if you use Internet Explorer, The Bidding Traveler has an extension to allow you to enter bids automatically (that I have not tested myself).
I find the manual approach suggested by Consumers' Checkbook works best in cities such as New York or Chicago with a high concentration of 4-star accommodations. Many of my wedding guests last year secured top quality hotel stays last year using the system.
Have you embraced Priceline and other bidding sites to keep your travel costs in check? Please share your tips and tricks --- and details of particularly inexpensive hotel stays --- in the comments below. 
Posted by Liz Kay at 8:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cheap/Frugal, Consumer Web Site of the Week, Travel


I've been using Priceline for years. That Bidding Traveler is a nice site - it does a lot of the homework for you. I generally would research winning bids on and, and design my bids using that.
There ARE ways to put in more than one bid in a 24-hour period - basically, you have to find nearby zones that do NOT have hotels at your star level; you can then use these for "free rebids."
I find New York one of the tougher spots, actually - the hotels don't release their rooms to Priceline until a few days before the desired date, so you have to be patient. I've had much better luck in Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago.
I've gotten 4* hotels in Boston for $40 (that was a few years ago), routinely pay $40-45 for Phoenix airport hotels with rack rates of $200. In NYC, I've gotten $300 4* rooms for $150.
zevonista, thanks for this advice. Your experience with NY hotels is good intel for other areas as well. Everyone should keep in mind that although a Priceline area might contain attractive hotels, those hotels might not necessarily be offering rooms when you search, so it might pay to come back and do a last-minute bid. --- lfk.

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