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I am a big fan of Priceline.com. I've booked nearly 50 rooms in 15 different cities and I’ve always felt I walked away with a great deal. I’ve stayed at Planet Hollywood in Vegas on a weekend for under $50 a night, the Omni in San Diego for $65, and a host of 4 star hotels all around the country on business travel, all for less than $90 a night. In fact, the worse the economy is, the better deals you can get on Priceline because, with the recession, there are a lot of empty hotel rooms out there. But mastering Priceline takes a little bit of an investment - taking the time to learn a few of the core tricks to get the best deal. Here’s some true and tried methods for getting a great price on a Priceline hotel.
Stick with 4 Star Hotels
I've rarely been disappointed with a four star hotel but three star hotels can be a mixed bag. Besides, if you use Priceline, you'll generally find that three star hotels aren’t much cheaper than 4 stars. My guess is that this has to do with the hotel accepting a price that is just above their marginal cost for cleaning the room - which is about the same for three and four star hotels - maid service and linens. In some markets like Las Vegas, you will have more than one 5 star option. But generally speaking, you'll be happy with four star hotels and it will allow you to get a much lower bid (see Bid Strategy #2).
Understand How Priceline Works
To book a hotel room, Priceline lets you bid a price that doesn't include fees and taxes. If the hotel is willing to take your bid, you are charged for the full amount of the room immediately and you lock in your stay. They don't let you know the name of the hotel until after you book it. It’s a great model provided you have confidence in the quality ranking of the hotels. What do you care if you're sleeping at the Hilton instead of the Sheraton? So, if you're not too fussy about the brand and you don’t cancel your trip, all you need to do is master the following bidding strategies.
Understand Priceline’s Areas
Make sure you understand how Priceline defines the geographic areas for the city you want to stay in. The last thing you want is to get a great rate on a hotel that's 20 miles away from where you expected to be. Priceline does a very good job giving you an idea of what the area encompasses. For instance if you are heading to Las Vegas, there are 12 different areas. If you wanted to stay on the Strip, there is North Strip and South Strip as well as just off the Strip. Once you know the area(s) that you want to stay, its time to implement bidding strategy. To try this now, click See Winning Hotel Bids at Priceline.com