INTRODUCTION TO PRICELINE
I love Priceline, I have saved thousands of dollars with Priceline. It is one of my favorite ways to save money when I travel and if you are not using Priceline you are leaving money on the table. This is the first in a 4 part series on how to use Priceline to save money. First an introduction to Priceline.
Priceline is composed of two different ways to book travel, the first, is your standard online travel agency, just like Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz. You enter your destination and pick and choose your flights, hotel, rental car, etc…
I rarely use online travel agencies these days because you do not save much money. Basically the only way you save money with an online travel agency is if you book a package with airfare and hotel, in which case you would save money over booking those items separately. The money you save is small potatoes compared to using Priceline’s other function – Name Your Own Price.
When you see The Shatner, I’m sorry The Negotiator, in those Priceline commercials this is what he is advertising and it really is a great tool if used correctly. Name Your Own Price is exactly as it sounds you name your price and see if anyone accepts. Of course there are some catches:
1: You’re bidding blind – Meaning, when you name your own price on a hotel, for example, you do not know what hotel you are bidding on or its exact location. What you do know is the class of hotel (e.g. 4 stars, 3 stars…), the general area, and amenities. But don’t worry about this, I will give you tips on how to make an educated guess on which specific hotel you are bidding on in Part 2 – Bidding on Hotels.
2: 24 Hour Rule – If you make an offer and it is rejected you cannot re-bid for 24 hours. Again, don’t worry about this rule, there are easy ways to work around this.
3: Automatic Billing – If your bid is accepted your credit card is billed instantly for the full price of your reservation.
4: Nonrefundable – Once billed you cannot get a refund if you cancel your trip.
At first blush, these rules sound a little onerous. However, the first 2 rules are not that big of a deal because they are easy to work around. As for the last two rules I view those as the price you have to pay for big savings. These last two rules are also the key to making this work. Hotels, Car Rentals, and Airlines would not be letting these things go for insanely low prices if they weren’t guaranteed the income.
Name Your Own Price at its core is a negotiation between you and the hotel, car rental, or airline with Priceline acting as the go between. The key to any successful negotiation is to arm yourself with knowledge and to use leverage to your advantage. In the next three installments I will show you how to gain the knowledge you need for a successful bid, bidding strategies, and how to maximize your leverage to save hundreds of dollars on your next trip.
More from Portland Travel Tips
I love Priceline but in all honesty I have moved on to a more advanced strategy for cheap travel. Would you like to learn how to save tons of money on travel? I have, read more here.