June 27, 2010

Priceline Saved Me $80 / 15% Over Hotwire for Hotel

My wife and I are going to a nearby city for a few days in July with another relative.    We had to get two hotel rooms for a couple days for the trip.   I searched all around on the various online hotel booking sites and didn't find any super bargains.  

I really tried to find the best price I could and was willing to stay at a basic hotel as long as it wasn't a flea bag or similar.  Unfortunately the cheaper hotels were all very unattractive sounding from the reviews I found online.  They had pretty low recommendations and were 20 miles outside of town by the airport, on a very heavy traffic road with high noise or the type of place that rents by the hour.   I would have much preferred to get the hotel rooms for $60-$80 a night, but no dice.

I looked to Hotwire and found I could get a 3 star hotel in the area we wanted for $119 a night.  That seemed like the best value for an acceptable quality hotel.  I used another trick I've mentioned before is to use BetterBidding.com to help identify the hotels at Hotwire or Priceline.   There is only one 3 star hotel in the neighborhood in question so I was very sure I knew which hotel Hotwire was going to offer.  I was not 100% sure on the hotel in question but wouldn't have been disappointed if we ended up in another 3 star hotel.  The cost on Hotwire would have been 2 room x 2 nights x $119 for about $475 total plus about $75 in taxes for a total of almost $550.

Before I bought the Hotwire hotel I figured I'd give Priceline's "name your own price" option a shot too.   If you're not familiar with how Priceline works you specify the city, neighborhood and quality rating of hotel you're interested in and then make an offer on the price you want to pay.   You don't know what hotel you'll get or if they'll accept your offer.   If the offer is accepted you have your hotel reservation.  If they refuse the bid then you can expand your options to add other neighborhoods, raise your bid and/or add other quality levels.

I've never actually had success getting a bid with Priceline to work before.   But I figured it was worth a try.   First of all I decided to check and see if I could get a 3.5 star hotel in the same neighborhood of town for the $119 price.  I figured if I could get 3.5 star hotel for the same price then why not.   But that failed and Priceline didn't get an acceptance from any hotels.  

SO next I decided to expand the search to 3.5 and 3 star hotels in the neighborhood in question but then drop the price down to $100 per night.   This time it succeeded and I got the same hotel I had my eye on with Hotwire.    With $100 per night we're saving about $80 on the deal via Priceline over Hotwire. 

Basically the process I used was:

1. I got a price quote on Hotwire first for the level of quality hotel I wanted in the area I wanted.   The 3 star hotel was $119.
2. Then I tried Priceline  to see if I could get a higher rating hotel for the same price. 
3. I also then tried Priceline for the same quality of hotel or higher rating for a lower price.

You might be able to follow a similar process to play Priceline vs Hotwire to get a lower price on the same quality hotel or get a higher rating hotel for the same price.   Certainly doesn't hurt to try.

p.s. I also used Ebates to get a 2% cash back on my hotel. 

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