Most of the time when traveling outside of major casino destinations it makes sense to stay at an off site hotel. I spend about half of my life in hotels, and so I’ve developed a few methods to save a considerable amount of money without sacrificing much quality of life. One of the simplest of these methods involves the “name your own price” and “express deals” features on Priceline.
Name Your own Price: This feature allows you to book a hotel by picking a desired star rating and area you want to stay in. You can name a price lower than the typical price for hotels of this star rating in your chosen area, but the catch is that you won’t know which hotels you’re actually booking until the reservation is complete.
There are a few downsides to using this feature. First, the area you pick can be broader than you realize; Priceline’s interpretation of “downtown” may differ greatly from what most would consider the actual downtown area. Second, if you go blind on one of these, you may even end up staying somewhere that charges an extra fee for parking, or a “resort fee” that gets added onto your bill when you check in. Resort and parking fees can be as high as $40 a night, making your “deal” not much of one after all.
I don’t recommend blindly naming your own price here. I do, however, recommend using this feature when you know what you’re actually bidding on. There are a couple simple ways to narrow it down.
The first, and most obvious, is when there’s only one hotel in your chosen area that meets your criteria. For example, when I go to the Tacoma, Washington area, I always bid on a 4-star hotel in the downtown area. There’s only one 4-star hotel in downtown Tacoma, so I know exactly what I’m bidding on. Using a few different email accounts, I can start low and bid up a few times until I get the hotel for the absolute lowest price they will accept. In this case, I’ve booked the hotel for as low as 1/3 of the listed price.
So what do you do If there’s more than one hotel matching your search criteria? Luckily, others have done some research for you, giving you a pretty good idea of what you’re bidding on by looking at their results given the same same criteria. These results are posted on a free forum at <a href=”http://betterbidding.com/” target=”_blank”>betterbidding.com</a>.
Express Deals: Sometimes you just want to book a hotel and not have to deal with bidding, narrowing it down, or using multiple email accounts in order to make multiple bids. This is where the express deals feature comes in handy. The prices are always considerably cheaper than the posted prices on Priceline’s main page and much cheaper than the hotel’s own listed prices.
As is the case with naming your own price, you aren’t given the name of the hotel you’re booking until the reservation is complete. Fortunately, these are usually easy to narrow down based on available amenities and star ratings. For example, if you see a 3-star express deal for $69 In Tacoma with an 8+ rating and a pool, you can go back to Priceline’s main page and look at the number of hotels that fit that criteria. Usually, there will only be one or two hotels that fit the bill. To narrow it down even further, it’s usually the cheapest of these options that are offering the express deal.
When you’re on the road for work as often as many APs are, quality of life is important. I’ve saved thousands of dollars using these methods, without having to stay in dumps.