Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hotel deals!

Planning an upcoming vacation during this recession has meant I have been extra careful about when and where I buy tickets for airfare, hotels, and attractions. We started thinking in July about heading to New York City this fall, and things started to fall into place quickly when AirTran (followed by Delta) put up great sale fares in August round-trip to the Big Apple. With the airfare booked, I sat back to check out hotel rates and to play the waiting game, knowing that sales would come around sooner or later.

Now that its mid-September, and the prices have held more or less steady, I decided last week to poke around and see what deals I might be able to find buried somewhere. I landed eventually on Priceline.com (don't you just love William Shatner in that role?!) to check out their deals.

After a search for the NYC hotels, I noticed a tab on the upper right called Best Deal - Name Your Own Price. Yes, please. I was so sick of seeing rates way above $250 when I preferred $200/night. The only catch? You have to provide your credit card, and if they accept your bid, you are stuck - no returns. If they don't accept your bid, you don't get charged.



A bit of research online later, and I found some great tips for how to work the Priceline system. This whole system worked fantastically for me - I landed a $195/night rate at the Westin in Times Square! Here are some of the tips in short form, so that you can go check out the best hotel booking system around. I am pretty sure I will never use another hotel site again.

* Stick with 4-star hotels only. This way, if it accepts your bid, you at least know you will be staying in a hotel like the W, Westin, Omni, etc. 3.5 and 3 star hotels could end up being sketchy, and you won't know where you are ending up until it accepts your bid.

* Pick one neighborhood at a time, and add one each time you have to re-bid. In NYC, this is easy, as I would have been happy with a hotel in Central Park South, Upper West Side, Midtown, etc.

* Pick an upper price limit at which to stop bidding, and undercut the usual prices online by half. Seriously. The Westin's prices are upwards of $400 a night - I started at $180 and went up in $5 increments.

* If your bids don't work, you will have to wait 24-hours to try again. But if you do one neighborhood at a time while slowly increasing your price, you should get a bite pretty quickly. Hotels want your business right now.

Have fun! :)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great tips! I would add checking sites like bidlesstravel (http://www.bidlesstravel.com) to get a range of bids that Priceline will accepted; they have a Facebook-like community with a database of winning bids Priceline accepted...invaluable market research.

Katherine Malone said...

Thanks! I will have to check that out next time I use the whole bid system!

Brittany said...

This is brilliant! Thanks for the tip. Don't be surprised if I beg for your help though, I'm nervous! :)