Travelling is one of those areas where I’m a little conflicted. Yes, I like to do it as cheaply as possible. But I also hate camping and prefer to stay in hotels with a four star minimum. Internet sites like Kayak can be really good for checking out hotels and where to stay, but the best deals are usually to be found on Priceline, either through their Express Deals or Name Your Own Price.
Priceline changed my life – because I could get such good deals on hotels I could travel a little more.
Before Express Deals came along, the only way to go was to do bids in your destination city based on star level and zone, and you wouldn’t find out which hotel you had booked until after they had taken your payment. It took a lot of trust, but then I discovered sites like Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel where people share the results of their Priceline bids. You can get a good sense of which hotels are the likely ones and get a bit more confidence about the process. It is really good for London and I have also used it with good success for New York and Melbourne. I’ve stayed in a Marriott in Central London for $58 and $77 a night, though it looks like those days are no more with the improving economy. I had the Hilton Hyde Park for $88 a few years ago, too. Now that economic times are better, it might be slightly more than $100 a night for a 4 star in London, depending on time of year.
The first step in my search is to look at the forum pages for the areas I’m going. If it’s to London, it’s usually this page at Better Bidding for the international bids or this page at Bidding for Travel for London. There are extensive sections for North American bidding, too.
The next step is to turn to the Express Deals side to get a sense of which areas are available at which price, maybe compare to the discussion board sites to see which hotels look likely, and then start bidding on Name Your Own Price at about $20 less per night (or lower if I have the time to spare) than what is being shown in Express Deals. By using permutations and combinations to alter the bid slightly each time (since you can make only one identical bid every 24 hours) I’ll slowly work up my bidding in a zone until I’m successful in snagging a hotel.
There are some good FAQs on best using Priceline here and, for those with experience, how to use permutations to maximize the number of bids you can do in a single day here. Priceline is great but it takes a little knowledge to learn the subtleties to get the best prices from it.
Priceline doesn’t always work, sometimes it can get to be as expensive as other sites, just depending on what they have in terms of inventory. If prices get too high I reckon I’m better off switching to the regular sites where I’ll know which hotel I’m looking at for the best deal. In that case, I’ll look to a site like Kayak where I’ll actually know which hotel I’ll be staying in before I have to pay for it, and see if that’s best, or whether to stick it out with Priceline.