Thanks to Conrad Hackett for sharing info about obtaining low hotel rates.

On this page, I share with you information about how you can obtain low hotel rates for very good hotels across the United States. (Priceline also lists hotels for Canada, some European countries, the Carribean and Mexico.)

To give you an example of what you can expect, in the past I have stayed at a 4* hotel for ~$50/night and one summer I stayed at a 3* hotel for $46/night (the regular rate was well over $100).

There are two sites of interest for this procedure of bidding for low hotel rates and maximizing the chances that your proposed low rate will find a match. Priceline is where the bidding takes place, Bidding For Travel is where you get the information necessary to submit an informed (i.e. realistic) bid. Please note that the information on this page will only be relevant for those who are willing to use their credit cards online.

Priceline is a service that allows you to bid on prices for airfare, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. I will address hotels here but I suspect similar strategies will work for the rest.

The basic idea is that you specify the time you want the service, you give some details about your travel plans and then bid. You name the price and the system tells you whether there is a company out there willing to give you the service for that price. Once you submit a bid, you have committed to it and if the system makes a match your credit card will be charged.

For hotels this works in the following way. When you go to the Priceline page, click on Hotels. The form then asks you to fill in the city where you'll need a hotel room, the arrival date and the check-out date.

Next you specify the location within the city where you'd prefer a room. Although Priceline recommends that you pick two locations, you do not have to! You can specify just one. Note that if you scroll down that page, Priceline gives you a map of the city with the hotel blocks.
On the following page you specify the quality of the hotel you prefer. And this is also where you name your price!

This is where things get interesting. How do you know how low you can go? Priceline limits your bids to one every 72 hours (or three days) so unless you have lots of time before your trip, you don't want to make unrealistic bids.

BiddingForTravel is a very helpful site at this point. People from all over who have recently bid on Priceline post information about their bids. This information is presented by type of service (hotel vs airfare, etc.) and by details within categories.

The list starts with some general information about the site that you may wish to read. Alternatively, you can skip down to the list of Hotels. Here, you pick the state in which you are planning to stay at a hotel. Major cities have their own categories. Once you've clicked through to a category, you will notice posts from members about what did and did not work. People include information about the quality of the hotel (number of stars), the name of the hotel, the dates of their stay and the winning bid. Occasionally, people will post information about what bid had been rejected.

Once you've gotten information from this site, you're ready to go back to Priceline and bid in an informed manner. Priceline may erase your initial bid and suggest that you bid higher because your bid seems unrealistic to the system. DO NOT be deterred by this. If you got information from BiddingForTravel you should be fine. Of course, there are no guarantees, but there's a good chance it will work.

Please note that once you've placed a bid you are committed to paying for the room if a hotel accepts your rate. Also, taxes and certain fees may not be included in this fee so please realize that the final price may be somewhat higher. Of course, this is also the case for the regularly listed figures, too.

Good luck!

Find something great that helped you save a bundle? I'm always happy to hear about successful outcomes.

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Last updated: April, 2005
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