This is part 2 of my Beat the bidding : Priceline bidding strategies for hotels post, just realized I never actually posted this, sorry about that.
There are two crucial strategies to get the best price for a hotel (1) Know how much to bid (2) How to rebid for the same zone/dates without changing anything other than the price. The first part covered the first strategy – Know how much to bid for hotels on Priceline. This post covers the second strategy How to make free rebids instead of waiting out the forced 24 hr period enforced by Priceline.
Priceline allows only one bid every 24 hours for a hotel room. A bid has two parts to it Part A : City, area, dates of stay, star level of the hotel (can go only lower); Part B: price. You have to change at least 1 factor in Part A AND Part B to make a bid again. Priceline hopes that no one will wait for 5 days to make 5 bids, with 5 days of uncertainty about where you will be staying hanging over you head, you will bid with a substantially higher price the next day to win the bid. They win, you lose!
Of course you can change any factor in Part A and rebid immediately, but lets see those factors one by one – (1) City : Unless you are randomly bidding and you are planning to go to any place that you could get for less than $x, I don’t think anyone would want to change the city. (2) Dates of stay, similar to (1), if you are very flexible with the dates, but all means play with the dates. (3) Star level of the hotel can only be lowered. You might have started with the lowest level that you could go and not want to go even lower. (4) Area/Zones within the city, this is the most feasible factor to change, but if you are set on staying close to a specific attraction or your place of interest, you don’t want to end up in a zone that is on the opposite extreme of the city or worse, on a zone that is not very safe.
How can you rebid in less than 24 hrs without making any undesirable changes?
As far as I know, there are three ways, legitimate ways to get around this problem. I have used all three of them and it works. One of them is quite obvious and very easy, the other two requires some time and effort. But hey, you are saving money and if you are strapped on time you will be better off calling the hotel and asking for a discount than messing with Priceline!
Free rebid strategy #1 : Add zones with no hotels that match your bid
This might sound like a lot of work, but believe me it won’t take more than 5 minutes and you have to do this only once. When you get to the “Name your own price” page, there will be different zones listed. If you click on any one of them, the “Choose your star level section” below the zone listing will change. For example, Zone A might be the downtown of the city which has most of the 5* hotels of that city, Zone B might be a simple suburb and has NO 5* star hotel. In this case, if you click on Zone B, the 5* level option will be grayed out.
You can use that to the advantage. Lets take an examples to work this one.
Example 1 : San Diego, Memorial day weekend, 5* hotel.
- Go to “Name your own price page”
- It will list all 17 Zones in San Diego.
- Check ONE zone at a time and see what is grayed out and what is not.
- Essentially create a table with information : Zone, 5* (available or not), 4*(available of not)..1*(available or not), for the level that are available, click on that option and it will show the average rate for that zone/star level combination. Make a note of this information, don’t bid based on the price shown this is just to use for strategy #2 described below.
- If you did that, you will know that there are only 2 zones in San Diego with 5* hotels – Del Mar and Downtown area.
- Start with whatever amount you chose (for more information see this post : How much to bid on Priceline).
- When Priceline rejects that bid, increase the price by a nominal amount and choose one of the 15 zones that doesn’t have any 5 star hotels. Even though there are no 5* hotels in Hotel Circle area, Priceline will consider this a “change” in your bid and allow you to immediately rebid at a higher rate instead of waiting for 24 hrs. You won’t get a hotel in Hotel Circle area because, well, there are no 5* hotels there! Completely within the rules of Priceline, but you don’t have to wait!
The lower you star level the difficult it gets (as there might a two star hotel in almost every zone), but if you understand study the zones well, you can work on different combinations to get at least a few free rebids. When ALL the zones have you desired star level, you might want to use the second strategy.
Free rebid strategy #2 : Add more expensive zones
This one is a little tricky as you need to know the City you are travelling to, very well.
If you are looking to stay in a moderately priced zone in a certain city, you can add very expensive zones when rebidding, knowing that with the price you are looking to pay for the moderately priced zone will never be accepted by any hotel in the expensive zone.
Example 2: San Diego; Budget : $50; Star level : 2+; Other : want to be close to Mexican border.
If you are looking to stay in San Ysidro (close to Mexican border and very inexpensive hotels), in a 2.5* star hotel, you can start bidding as low as $25, when the time comes to rebid, you can also add Del Mar as it is an expensive area and near impossible to find 1 star hotel for anything close to $50, let alone $25. By adding the Del Mar zone and increasing the bid from $25 to say, $30 you have got a free rebid without waiting for 24 hrs to bid San Ysidro again for $30.
Most cities will have expensive and inexpensive areas. Don’t play with closely priced zones, if there is very low demand you might get a hotel for your price and there is not way to change.
Free rebid strategy #3 : Use another Priceline ID.
This is the easiest and most obvious strategy. I use mine and my husband’s Priceline ID to double the number of bids. Combining this with strategies 1 & 2, most of the time I can finish my hotel booking within a day or two. I am not sure they check cookies cross accounts, but I use incognito windows on Chrome and it has worked well so far.
There is another strategy that I do not recommend. I am putting it here because this one is suggested in a lot of travel forums and I figured I should address this – Using a bad credit card code. Priceline asks you to complete the credit card information to finalize the hotel purchase before showing you the hotel name.
Some people recommend purposely entering a wrong security code, the 3-4 digits code that you enter in addition to the full credit card number. The logic is Priceline will ask you to re-enter the code if your bid was successful, thereby showing you what price would be accepted. Purposely giving a wrong credit card information is a moral grey area. Even if you ignore that part, the success of this strategy is grey as well. People say it works, but I have accidentally entered the wrong code from my memory for my stored credit card and have got a smooth transaction.
I always bid a level of two higher than I normally book if I know the hotel room, just in case.Strategies #1-3 should give you enough rebids and a good deal if you are armed with the knowledge of how much to bid.