How to Bid, Buy and Win on Priceline & Get The Quality You Want

It sounds simple enough. Bid on a hotel on priceline, or another similar site – and you get to stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel that you otherwise could never possibly afford on your travel budget. In theory it sounds like a brilliant idea – hotels do not have to advertise that their sales are slow, and make up lost revenue – and you get a deal. Unfortunately in practice, it is often not this rosy.

Let me start by saying if you are not careful you could end up somewhere positively awful. How is this possible if its guaranteed to be 4, 4 1/2, or 5 star you ask?

We’ll start by making a dummy booking for Las Vegas, on a weekend – (who doesn’t love a good weekend in sin city?)

Priceline Bidding

Note the Guaranteed Amenities, this is all that is promised. If its not promised it may not be there.

You will notice on the above that you are guaranteed what is shown in the Icons. Now pay attention to the orange ones, that say 8+ and 7+ – this is key. That means the 5 star hotel has scored 80% or better from thousands of Priceline users, similarly the 4.5 star hotels have scored 70% or better from their users.

4 Star hotels are NOT GUARANTEED TO HAVE ANY SPECIFIC LEVEL OF CUSTOMER FEEDBACK in the case of Las Vegas. This does vary from city to city.

So what is one to do? In my own case I have have a 7.5 or better rule – this means the hotel must score 7.5 or better or I never book it. The number one reason for this – scores lower than 8 usually necessitate some level of deficiency on the part of a particular hotel related to one of the key metrics: Cleanliness (Cough, Cough – Key), Staff Helpfulness, Room Quality, Room Amenities, Hotel overall.

To help you get the best hotel for your money I have a few rules to bid buy and win on Priceline:

Rule 1: Research The Hotels & Their Location On Priceline

Start by searching for hotels on Priceline with your proposed dates. Do not go into the Express Deal, or Name Your Own Price Deal Tabs. You actually need to know what is available in your district. First you are going to look at the 5 star hotels. This is done by ticking the box on the side of the screen.

Tick off the filter box on the side to take away all non 5 star hotels.

Tick off the filter box on the side to take away all non 5 star hotels.

Now the first thing you should notice is the number in Brackets – Thirteen – There are only 13 5 star hotels in Las Vegas that Priceline retails. These are the same hotels you will be bidding on.

Next Click View Map (WHAT your not going to let me look at the hotels? – That is later you first need to know what is where.)

Priceline Bidding Strategy

Note: If you hover your mouse over those little numbers you’ll see which hotel is which.

Now, hover your mouse over the little tabs so you know which hotel is which, and keep in mind where they are on the map. Printing this map may be helpful in the next step.

Assuming you may be bidding on 4 Star Hotels – you should repeat both of the above for the 4 star hotels. In the case of the Las Vegas 5 star hotels, they are all highly rated by customers. So we can proceed to the next step.

Rule 2 – Dealing with the Bad Apples

If you have a hotel or hotels that are not highly enough rated note their numbers, areas, and amenities. If the bad hotel does not have a pool but the hotels you are bidding on are guaranteed one, you will not get that bad hotel. Or if the hotel is a 6.9 and you are guaranteed a 7 you will not get that hotel.

Rule 3 – Express Deals

Next you will check the express deals.  In our fictional version of Las Vegas, the South Strip will have a “Bad” 5 star hotel. This bad hotel happens not to have a Casino. Note the below – The South Strip Express Deal has a Casino, its not the bad hotel – the Other hotel has no Casino but its in the wrong part of town. Neither of these hotels is the “Bad” Hotel.

If you want to find out more, you can then go back to the map above, any hotel that is rated less than 9 you can cross off for the North Area leaving you with less hotels. Also cross off any hotel without all of the stated amenities. Assuming you are also doing this for the four star hotels you will see you are crossing off a great many possibilities and it really narrows it down to just a few.

Note the free parking and free internet? This also helps to give away which hotel it might be – look for hotels that charge for these things, and cross them off.

Bid Buy and Win on Priceline

The icons above can be matched to the hotels we looked at on the map view. Their location (north or South) combined with their amenities can help you cross of potential candidate hotels.

Presuming it is safe – IE that you have crossed off all of the bad hotels – you might choose to take one of these deals. But you still want to know MORE!

So see where it says save 34% or more? Add that back on, and then using the amenities and what you have crossed off – you should know exactly which hotel you are getting…

Keeping in mind these deals are pretty good… If you want to take it one step further you can go over to bidding. Note: Its usually the same hotels listed above that accept the bids. If you have not bought the hotel then we continue on to Rule 4 – What to bid!

Rule 4 – What to Bid for Your Hotel

The first thing you want to do, once all of the above is completed is:

  • Click on Name Your Own Price
  • Check off the Areas you want to stay in
  • Check off 5 Star – Only – to start
  • Enter a price 50% of what we saw above

Note the red dialogue box below? There is more chance of a snowstorm in the Nevada Desert than you winning this auction.

Bid Buy and Win on Priceline

As you Can see the bid almost certainly will not be accepted by any hotel.

So we increase the amount in the box until…

Bid Buy and Win on Priceline

Note the little red box is gone?

The red box is gone. This… Is our opening Bid.

Rule 5 – When the Bid Fails

When the above bid fails you have several options:

  • Add a different Area.
  • Change the Star Rating.
  • And You MUST bid more money.

Occasionally Priceline will conditionally accept your bid, if you increase it by X number of dollars. Congratulations, you found the floor and bought a 5 star hotel for the lowest price possible on that date or time.

If not, then we have to increase the bid. Start by:

Closing down your Browser. Are you seriously going to lower the quality of your bidding? If you re enter all of the information from scratch in a new browser you can bid the SAME THING again for a higher price. If you choose not to close your browser you’ll have to give up quality, or the area you want to be in. Your choice but a little leg work will get you what you want…

Try again at $69.00 – If that works great, if not repeat again adding $8-10 every time until you either hit your maximum budget, or get a hotel. If you hit your Maximum budget you are going to restart the bidding process at the low price in the original area with the next category of hotels (In the case of Las Vegas the 4.5 star hotels) And so on and so forth until you have a hotel!

People Always Ask:

  • But if I just lower the star  rating or add more areas I might get what I want – Should I do this? True you might, but then again you might not. What is likely to happen is you end up getting a 4 star when you could have had a 5 star for a similar price.
  • If I bid for both 4 and 5 stars at the same time will I possibly get a 5? Unlikely.
  • Should I take the Express Deal? – If you are willing to pay a bit more and it guarantees you a good hotel I do not see why you would not go for this option.
  • Do I earn points on stays booked through Priceline? Usually not.
  • Is it safe? It is probably one of the most reputable hotel booking websites available.
  • Lianna

    Awesome tips. One thing I noticed with Vegas Express Deals is you can usually figure out the property name by the daily resort fee amount. Most places have different resort fees and some still don’t charge one.

    • Adam Dewar

      This is very true! Its another data point – and the reality is the more different variables you check against the more likely you are to figure out which hotel you will end up with. As a model this applies to practically any city.

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