For my trip to Denver in June I was tasked to come up with a hotel reservation for the first two nights (the Peace Corps Reunion is only 3 nights and we’ll be there a week). I have no idea about Denver but I wanted to stay downtown near all the stuff. A friend at work had recommended Priceline, so I decided to try them out.
I found a site Bidding for Travel that posts people’s Priceline bid results so you can make a good guess at what a successful bid can be. After studying that, I went back to Priceline. When you are there you pick a certain level of quality and a certain area and bid some amount and they try and find a place. First I picked 4 stars out of 4 for $75 downtown and got nothing (not real surprising; people were paying about $100 for that). Then I picked 3 stars downtown for $50 and it came up empty again although some people had luck at that price in the past. I upped it to $55 but they don’t let you just up the price a little without making you wait 3 days. So I decided to add the Southeast suburbs of Denver to see what would happen (that makes it a different bid so you don’t have to wait 3 days). I got a room, but right away realized that I made a mistake in not going back to see what that area was going for. I could have bid less in that area.
So I kind of blew it. I wound up somewhere other than where I wanted to be at a higher price then I really should have paid, but still about 40% less than this hotel’s normal rate of $89.
Priceline by itself is kind of iffy and they prevent you from getting the lowest possible price by not allowing you to work your way up from an unsuccessful bid (there is a 3-day waiting period before you try to bid again for the same thing you were rejected for once). But when you can work from the experience at www.biddingfortravel.com it can be really effective. You still risk getting a 2-star hotel that Priceline considers 3-star and you can’t pinpoint your location or smoking preferences. But the savings can be significant.
WARNING: After all of this I went back to register at Bidding for Travel and tell people about my results. The bulletin board they use is called EZboard and at the end of the registration process it asks you to submit yourself to be the target of marketing by one of four companies. I picked No on each one and clicked Submit and it said I had to click on at least one. I thought this was one of the terms of membership, but it turned out it was an option and I didn’t need to click Submit at all.