HOW MUCH TO BID
Priceline should be used to save cash, not spend more than you need to. While Priceline and it’s hotels are not going to tell you a good minimum bid, there are a couple websites that post what other people have bid and won hotel rooms for.
By using these sites, you could usually come up with a good estimate as to a starting bid.
When are the rates on Priceline cheapest?
This is a difficult question since the hotels and priceline don’t want to tell you. However, there are some general answers that can help us most of the time.
Hotels only put rooms on Priceline when they think they will have some vacancies. Certain times of the year, a hotel knows it won’t be vacant (most likely) such as long weekends at a leisure hotel or when a big event is in town like the Calgary Stampede.
Aside from times like these, hotels use computer systems to estimate how many vacancies it think it will have at a particular time. As the actual night gets closer, the estimates are more accurate.
You can usually start finding hotels with discounted rates 6 months in advance with the better deals happening within 3 months in advance and the best deals 30 days in advance or less.
However, this is not always the case since a hotel might get quite full and then no longer offer a great deal anymore.
There’s really no 100% solution but generally, the closer to the date the better the deal. The problem with booking very far in advance (6 months for example), you may need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances but a hotel bought on Priceline cannot be changed or cancelled.
I had great luck purchasing one of my priceline hotels in Vancouver about 45 days in advance and then again the night before!
Just keep in mind that there are also bid times you need to factor in when determining how much time to give yourself with booking a hotel room. This will be discussed later.
So How Much Do I Bid?
Priceline and the hotels are not going to make this obvious as they want you to pay as much as possible. Priceline will encourage you to bid high by limiting your bids and telling you what the hotel usually charges.
You want to determine the lowest amount possible to make a potentially successful bid because whatever Priceline accepts, you will be charged. If a hotel has a low bid acceptance of $70 and you bid $100, you will be charged the $100 and not the $70 that they would have accepted. The hotel might be $160 normally so its still a good deal but $70 would have saved you an extra $30!
Typically, you can expect anywhere from 30-60% off rates commonly seen on Expedia. This is a big difference though so you still want to do a little homework to make sure you get closer to 60% off.
Two sites that I used when trying to determine a bidding price for downtown Vancouver hotels were
Go to the listings in these websites that show successful bids for the destination your planning to visit, and see what other people ended up paying for hotels in the area. It’s important to make sure its in the same area around the same dates, as prices can change on various factors. Usually, you’ll see a wide variety of successful bids for similar hotels.
All hotels are different and some have certain days that are typically more full than others. For example, business hotels are busiest during the week from Monday – Thursday. A Leisure hotel would be busier on the weekends.
Know that the sites mentioned above are not always perfect and you need to realize the person posting the winning bid might not be as “priceline educated” as you are. For example, just because someone posts that they got a winning bid of $100 for a 4 star hotel doesn’t mean they might have been able to get it for $80. The best posts are the ones where people list their bidding history – such as “bid $90, rejected; bid $95, rejected; bid $100; accepted!”
With this type of post you can start bidding somewhere in the middle such as $95.
As mentioned before, Priceline’s accepted bids vary day to day so no system is perfect. These are just systems to enhance the chance of getting the best deal on a particular level of hotel.
When you do bid a successful bid for a hotel on priceline, go back to these sites and post your own experience. This helps others and encourages others to continue posting and keeps the system going strong.
Priceline Recommended bid
Ignore it. Your better off using the information from the websites above. If you have no choice or no other info to go off, I would start bidding 70% off the retail price that Priceline exists. This of course depends on how urgent you need the hotel. Once starting at this bid, you can slowly move up from there.
At times, Priceline will give you a message telling you about your bid. If it says “Based on recent data, your bid has almost no chance of being accepted” they are probably right and you might not want to waste a bid.
On the other hand, if it says “you only have a small chance of being accepted” then you may want to try It or add a small amount to it before wasting a bid. This is your choice. Each time you use Priceline, you will get better at understanding the whole process. If you have many days in advance, then you can probably try whatever you like.
In my experience, I haven’t actually had a bid accepted after seeing one of these messages but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It also doesn’t mean that not seeing message means it will be accepted.
At other times, Priceline will come back to you and give you a counteroffer. I used a friends advice and counter-offered back with a price half way between my original offer and Pricelines counteroffer and had it accepted. So If I offered $80, and Priceline counter-offered with $100, I would go back to them with $90, and it usually works.