What's the best website to use when bidding on hotels?
What's the best website to use when bidding on hotels?
It depends, there are two famous ones.
Hotwire, which is part of the Expedia Family, doesn't actually have you bid, what they do is ask you the exact dates, and what area(s) you are willing to stay in. Then it will list the Hotels/Motels available, they show the Star level and the specific amenities available for that specific location. You than can make your decison and pick the specific group of things you want. You pay, and get the actual name and address of the Hotel. No refunds.
The other main one is Priceline, this is the "bidding" site, you pick the star level, and offer a price, and get what Hotel/Motel they want to give you with whatever amenities come with it. If they approve the bid, you get the exact name and address of the Hotel/Motel. Once again, no refunds.
So say, 4 3-star Hotels are available on your dates, with Hotwire, you can choose between the three and find the one you prefer (based on the amenities). Many folks will go to Hotwire first, and then go to Priceline and bid a few dollars less than the Hotwire price shown for those dates. Sometimes they win, but don't get the Hotel they wanted.
Then there are websites such as BetterBidding.com that specialize in Hotwire and Priceline, and can help you figure out the exact name of the Hotel (especially Hotwire) based on the amenties that are offered.
I prefer Hotwire, because there are specific amenties that are important to me.
But I have been tending to go directly to the Hotel Website that I am interested in, and take advantage of Frequent Stay Awards, which you won't get if you use Hotwire/Priceline. And I have found that the prices are about the same using discount codes and other things, such as the Hotel offering a pre-paid discount (aka no refunds), and I am not surprised by extra fees such as Parking, Internet or Resort fees, all of which can be charged when you arrive above what you paid Priceline/Hotwire.
There is no "best", as they say, Different Strokes for Different Folks.
Hope that helps.Edited: 2:20 am, January 20, 2012
Many times you can do one better by staying off the website and phone the property direct. You know, good, old fashioned person-to-person talking? You will be able to ask about specials, rooms to your likeing, locations of rooms, amenities, restaurants nearby, etc. Chuck...
One more point, if you deal with a specific Hotel, you will know the exact place you are staying, and sometimes you want to be within walking distance of a specific location.
With Priceline/Hotwire, they will give you zones, which can sometimes be quite large. I never recommend Hotwire/Priceline to someone who is planning to come without their own (or rental) vehicle.Edited: 2:33 am, January 20, 2012
In addition Priceline only guarantees a room with 1 bed. IF you are a family you may not get the type of room you need.
Be aware that after you bid and pay the hotel may have extra fees for parking etc. that are NOT included in your bid.
Great information! Thanks everyone!
For hotels I usually go with what chuck recommended---use the direct hotel website or call the hotel direct and ask to speak to the revenue manager or the general manager. Personally, I always check the website first and then call the hotel. Sometimes you'll be surprised at the deal that they offer. I'm a high tier member in a couple of hotel rewards programs and I don't hesitate to mention that. Also, if I've stayed at the hotel before I'll mention what I paid before (if it's less than the current rate) and ask them to match it. About maybe 50% of the time it works and I've also had a couple of cases of them throwing in free parking without my even asking.
Personally, I like to know where I'm staying, what I'm getting for my money and you can usually cancel up to 6:00 PM the day of the arrival. No putting up the money up front and with no recourse if something happens.
Darkbeers' synopsis was very good.
Off topic, I saw something about Priceline killing off the 'Priceline Negotiator' (William Schattner) in an upcoming commercial. Is that going to be permanent or just 'a dream'? Changes coming in the program? (shrug) I have no idea but I thought it was a funny article. LOL
Calling the hotel directly is one option, but you are not going to get the kind of deep discount you may get from a bidding website. Besides, you'll have to call several different hotels. You may want to read up on bidding strategies on http://biddingfortravel.com/. Another site I have used is lastminutetravel.com.
I hope no one minds my throwing out the "Priceline Negotiator" link but it does appear that Priceline will be changing their business model to a 'fixed price' rather than a 'bid'. Also a video of the commercial.
Chuck has a good point. Especially, if it's a chain. The hotel has to pay for internet booking, so that gets added on to their rate.
If I don't book directly, I'll occasionally book through Priceline Name Your Own Price. I've never had a problem getting two beds. The key is to research the area--know how Priceline defines an area. Look at the map they provide & then look at what hotels are in that area. If you want to bid on a 3 star in a certain area but reading reviews find that there is a 3 star that gets consistant terrible reviews I would not chance it!Edited: 4:34 pm, January 20, 2012
OK, for example, in early February I am staying at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach just before a cruise. The rack rate was $209 plus $15 a day Parking, Let's say I get one of those half price deals, so I am at $105 plus $15.
On the other hand, using the Carnival Discount code, I am getting the room for $109 plus 7 days free parking, so let alone am I getting the room for less than the "discounter" (since there rate is $120 with parking), I am also avoiding the parking fee at the cruise ship (since the Hotel will provide shuttle service to the port), so that is another $60 is savings.
Seems I am getting a much better deal where I know the exact location of the Hotel (and it is right next to the Queen Mary, which is where the Carnival Port is for my ship (they also use San Pedro), get extra perks, avoid extra fees, and collect Hilton HHonors points, which means I might get an upgrade for free, or maybe an extra $10 dollars.
With a discounter, all I would get is a basic room, and would have to pay the extra fees.
To me, in this case, it is a no brainer.
But as I said in the first post, there is no "best", in certain situations, a discounter makes sense, but lately, it seems that some of Frequent Stay programs and discount codes have been just as good, for example Choice Hotels was offering a free nights stay with every two paid stays for a specific period. So I was using them during that period, I now have elite status in the program, and getting even more perks.
I think the Hotels are responding to Priceline/Hotwire in a couple of ways, first off, adding more fees, such as paid parking, with is a lot easier to do with the "self service" toll gates (no labor needed), usually a machine in the lobby to pay, or sometimes just at the front desk, and things. Fees that are charges at the Hotel/Motel are not shared with the discounter, and all the profit goes to the Hotel. And for regular guests, they can be waived.
Plus offering deeper discounts, and even "pre-paid" discount rates for their specific Hotel (and no refund) to get closer to the Hotwire/Priceline price. The discounters always talk about the full rate or rack rate, hardly anyone pays those rates, unless there is a major event in the area causing a major demand for rooms, and in whcih case, there are none left for the discounters anyways.