Most booking websites offer a very similar product for booking hotel rooms. Type in your desired destination and dates of travel, the site will give you a list of hotel options and prices for your dates. For most people that’s exactly what they need. If you are looking for a great deal, and are a little adventurous then you may want to use the Priceline name your price tool to search for a room.
The name your price tool allows you to name your desired location, dates, and the price you are willing to pay. If the search finds a match for you then it will book your room. This option is very cool, I have found some great deals through this option, but there are some things you need to know before booking a room this way.
How It Works
- Pick your location
When you type in your destination city the search will prompt you to pick at least one section of the city or town you will be staying in. The will show you several locations on a map. For example you might see an airport, convention center, financial district, downtown, shopping district, or stadium section as your options. A larger city will have more sections to choose from, and smaller towns and villages may have a limited number of sections to bid on. It’s a good idea to start with just one or two sections. Pick the ones you want to stay in first and try searching for your price range. If the search does not come up with a match you can always expand your search later. As you expand your search make sure that you will be able to access all of the sites and events you are planning to see from each location chosen. You don’t want to get stuck on the outskirts of a city with no way to get around.
- What’s your star?
When you have decided on the section(s) of the city that you want to stay in you will need to choose a desired star rating for your hotel. When you pick a star rating the search will be limited to hotels of that rating and above. As star ratings go down generally so does the price of the room. This is not always the case, I have seen some 4 star hotels go for prices equal or lower to those offered by 2 star hotels. Hotel prices tend to rise as the hotel fills up, so you may end up with a great price on an upscale hotel if they are pretty empty for your dates. I like to start with a 4 star search then will expand to 3.5 and 3 if I can’t find anything in the first range.
- How much?
What are you willing to pay for your room per night? Make sure you put in a nightly rate and not the price for the whole stay. Making this mistake could cost you a ton of money, as the search is likely to return a match for you in this case. When entering your price you will see that Priceline has listed the average price for hotels of your star category choice for your dates. When placing my bid I like to go much lower than the average. I have had luck with a real lowball bid on several occasions. If your first bid is unsuccessful then you can always revisit and rebid a higher price.
- Locked in
Once you have selected your section, star rating and desired price it’s time to submit your bid for a room. The submittal page will ask for your credit card information and give you an estimated price of the stay if your bid comes up with a match. When you submit your price that is the base price per night, taxes and any extra hotel fees are not included in your bid. Taxes and fees will vary by hotel, and you don’t know where you’ll be staying yet. Priceline will also offer you trip protection insurance. I almost never buy this because I book last minute most of the time and know that I’ll make my trip when I’m booking. You can read the terms of the insurance and find out if it’s right for you. Once you have submitted all of your information you can click to submit your bid. Once you submit your bid the search will begin. If the search comes up with a match you will be charged immediately for the entire stay. The booking will be non refundable so make sure you are committed to the stay. If you get a match Priceline will show you the details of the hotel you booked and send you a confirmation. Hopefully you have saved some money off of the list price of the hotel you booked.
If your bid is returned without a match then you can rebid. When you rebid, the site will ask you to change some of the details of the request. You can adjust the star rating, add some sections, or move your price up. This is why I like to zero in exactly where I want to stay at a super low price at first. I can always adjust my bid. Sometimes the name your price option just doesn’t work out, but I always think it’s worth a shot!
Tips For Bidding
- Know the Area
Do some research on the sections that you intend to bid on. Some sections that are offered will cover a large area. It helps if you know which hotels are in each section and which star rating they are. If you know that there is only one 4 star hotel in a particular area then you will basically be able to bid on just that hotel if you want to stay there. When there are several hotels of the same star rating in one area you are gambling on what hotel you may be getting.
- Know the Market
When you start bidding make sure you have a good idea of what prices are being charged for hotels in the city you will be staying in.
- Don’t Overbid
If you are going to use the name your price tool then make sure you will be getting a good deal. Before setting up a bid I like to research hotels in the area, and get a good idea of what prices hotels are charging during the time you will be staying. Make sure you know the lowest advertised price of the hotels in your desired star rating. A successful bid is likely to end up at that hotel, you don’t want to pay more by bidding than you could have paid by just booking it normally. If I’m using the name your price feature of Priceline then I’m looking for a great deal, around 60% off of advertised prices, but I am unwilling to bid above 85% of an advertised price. I need to make sure that the time I’m spending to name my price saves me some money!
- Give Yourself Time
The Name your price tool may not be effective on the first try. Hotel rates are adjusted constantly based on demand and availability. If you plan to bid on your room then start early. You can try a couple of bids per day while keeping an eye on advertised prices. After bidding for a few days then you may get lucky and find an amazing deal on a room. It only takes a few minutes to put a bid in. It’s worth the time if you save a few hundred bucks on your hotel stay.
- Be Selective
You don’t need to settle early. If you decide to start bidding, and you have some time before your trip then you can try multiple bids in similar star categories and sections. You are targeting a hotel a great price, stick with it and it may come to fruition. Keep your bid low and stay in the area you want until you can’t wait to book any longer.
Don’t Use the name your price tool if you:
- Need to stay in a specific hotel.
You won’t be choosing a hotel, you are bidding on a section, Priceline will pick the hotel if they can match your bid.
- Are not sure if you are going to make the trip.
Once booked, the room will be non-refundable. So make sure you will be there to use it.
- Have no knowledge of the area
If you aren’t familiar with the area that you’re booking in then you probably want to book a specific hotel on your first trip. You don’t want to end up at a bad location. That could ruin your vacation. Priceline bidding is great for return trios when you have a good grip on the location you’re visiting.
- Want a special kind of room (besides handicap access)
The room you book on Priceline is offered at the Hotel’s lowest price. When you arrive to check in it won’t hurt to ask for a room with a view, or a hot tub, but they will probably give you whatever they have left. Sometimes it will be a great room, and other times it will just be a place to crash. If you want a suite, or extra amenities then book your hotel by name.
If you are a little adventurous, and looking for a great deal on your next trip, then naming your hotel price may be a great option for you. Remember to bid low, and keep your search narrow and you may be getting an amazing value.