Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vacation Savings - Using Priceline

I believe that the best way to save on a vacation is research & planning. I love to research & plan, so for me this is part of my vacation! However, I know some that don't enjoy the planning or just don't have the time to do so. Hopefully, over the course of my Vacation Savings series, I can do some of that research & planning for you. I will share some inexpensive vacation spots I have found, some tips I have found at cutting costs, & just some tips I have found to make traveling easier.

Let me begin today by saying, that to our family a vacation is a relaxing time away from the house, something that takes us out of our ordinary. It doesn't have to be a week long venture, in our case, it is usually only a couple of days.

One of our biggest savers in hotel fares is by using Priceline. We have saved 75% off a hotel room before! However, there is a trick to Priceline, in order to save much you need to know what you are doing. Priceline is a website where you can name your own price for a hotel (I have never used any of the other services on Priceline, such as the airfare or rental car, so I can't tell you anything about those.). You are not guaranteed a certain hotel, however you are able to choose your star level & area. Once your bid is accepted it is charged to your credit card right away, it is non-refundable.

The best way to learn about Priceline is to visit BiddingForTravel. BiddingForTravel is a message board that shows you all the ins & outs of Priceline, the best place to start on BiddingForTravel is in the Hotel FAQ. Especially the section about free re-bidding, as this is how you save! BiddingForTravel also lists how much Hotels in certain areas are going for, so that when you bid you can have a better idea of how much to bid & what hotel you are likely to get (notice I say likely, as you are not guaranteed a particular hotel).

By using BiddingForTravel, I have stayed at the Hyatt Regency at Union Station in St. Louis several times for as low as $41 a night. BiddingForTravel goes into much more detail about how to get the best prices on the best hotels, however I will outline for you a few basics, on how I have gotten such a great deal on the Hyatt Regency.

  • I always go to BiddingForTravel first.
  • You must always use the Name Your Own Price section on Priceline's website to get the kind of savings I am referring to.
  • Currently Downtown St. Louis has 4 - 4 star hotels, all of which I am okay with getting. Therefore by researching BiddingForTravel, I see what each of the hotels are currently "going for".
  • I then begin my bidding, I usually start with $5-$10 less than what prices are posted on BiddingForTravel. Even though Priceline limits the number of times you can bid in a 24 hour period, I use free re-bidding.
  • Re-bidding - You are allowed to rebid, as long as you change something in your original bid (the star level or add location). I never change my star level, as I like to stay in the 4-star hotels! I then find out what locations do NOT offer 4-star level hotels & add one of those locations to my bid & then up my bid $3-$5. If my bid is still not accepted, I do the same thing again, add a location that does NOT offer a 4-star level hotel & up my bid.

Priceline is not for everybody & all of this can seem quite confusing! However, much more of this can be explained by visiting BiddingForTravel & checking out Priceline's website.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me & I can walk you through it!


  1. I love Priceline too! I've never stayed in a hotel for more than $50 since I started using it several years ago. We even got a 2 bedroom suite in Chicago for $45 one time. Even when we go to a wedding or reunion where someone has kindly reserved hotel rooms at a "special" rate we always decline and do Priceline instead. We usually spend $20 to $30 less than everyone else.

    On our most recent trip to Colorado we didn't know exactly how far we were going to make it each day so we couldn't Priceline the hotels ahead of time. I took my laptop with me and we stopped in a town 20 or 30 miles away from the one we wanted to stay in. We would park outside a truckstop or hotel and use the free wi-fi to Priceline a hotel in the next town. It worked great.

    I have used it for airline tickets and rental cars before too, and both worked perfectly. I've never had a problem with them. One time the hotel had no record of my reservation but I pulled out my printed confirmation email from Priceline and they honored the price with no problems.

    We stayed at a 4 star hotel in Chesterfield last year for our anniversary. It was a 15 story hotel that had indoor tennis courts and pools and a spa, etc. They had maybe 100 guests that night. It was completely deserted because it was a Thursday. I overheard the desk clerk say that on weeknights when they know they are going to be pretty empty they let all of their rooms go for as low as $40 on Priceline, but never less than that. Good to know.

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