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Something strange w/ Hotwire


Nautica3
By Nautica3,
in

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Okay, I noticed something strange w/ Hotwire yesterday. Got me wondering.

My buddy Frank, who sits in the cube next to me at work, is also a consultant. He travels in from NJ every week to Des Moines. Originally he was booking full-priced hotel rooms, but I've schooled him in the ways of P/L and H/W, and now he's saving big bucks like the rest of us.

Anyway, yesterday he went to H/W to book a room for the week of Aug 4th. I'd aleady booked for that week, getting the local Clarion (2.5* rating on H/W) for $35/night. The only other option listed was a 3* for $71/night--no thanks! So Frank goes in on his PC, and the H/W results screen--for the same search parameters--comes up with a 3* for $65 and a 2.5* for $55! Very strange!

We tried it again after he'd logged out of H/W, and the results were still $65/55. Then we cleared out his Internet files (including cookies) and shut down the MSIE window. Started a new browser window, tried H/W again, and came out w/ results of $71/35, just like I'd gotten. Like I said...strange!

This got we wondering about how H/W works. Basically the only difference between Frank & I as H/W users is that I prefer 2.5* hotels, while he prefers 3*. Otherwise we're booking for the same area, same dates.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this? Any thoughts on the matter?

Nautica3

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It's unknown how Hotwire determines their pricing, but it sometimes seems as if they choose a random mark-up on rooms.

You can also find examples of the price changing dramatically when booking multiple nites, yet booking those nites individually shows a consistant rate.

It would be interesting to know the methodology that they use as it would gain some insight as to how they determine what hotel to show you on a given search (assuming more than one hotel at that star rating is available).

Please use this HOTWIRE and these PRICELINE LINKS: HOTELS, CAR RENTALS, and AIRFARE to begin your travel purchases

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Just a thought! Do you think there is anything to the idea that PL or HW knowing that one has visited there websites before (cache, internet files & different CC numbers) in determining rates they might offer?

I have friends (new accounts on computers with different IP addresses) that can get accepted bids that I could not get just a few moments earlier. :)

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They definately use cookies to track that info, but....

I don't think that Priceline uses that info to determine whether you will be accepted or rejected at a given price.

On the other hand, i DO think that Hotwire uses that info to determine pricing and the selection of hotels that you are shown when multiple hotels at the same star rating are available.

... and this is not just Hotwire. I remember readinga awhile back that some retail sites would track how often you priced a specific item over a period of time. Once you hit a 'threshold' the price would be lowered! The idea being that you checked back multiple times because you were interested in the item but maybe it was priced just a tad too high, so the time 'x' you return they lower the price for you in order to motivate you to make the purchase now that you're seeing a deal.

Although most of us are very comfortable with the internet, i still think that we are in the infancy of what the technology is actually capable of.

Please use this HOTWIRE and these PRICELINE LINKS: HOTELS, CAR RENTALS, and AIRFARE to begin your travel purchases

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Although PL definitely uses cookies and other tracking mechanisms, their host system also "knows" your bid activity (even those just a couple of minutes old).

A couple of weeks ago as an experiment, I did the following: after an unsuccessful bid in the MCI area, I cleared all of my cookies, URLS and other tracking files both via the browser delete buttons and vial Norton Internet Seciruty's "Web Cleanup" function. I then re-entered the same bid with the same credit card, and received a message that I had made a previous bid within the last three days.

To further test, I shut down my notebook computer and logged onto my desktop and tried the bid again. I once again received the same "cannot bid again" message.

So, PL's host definitely keeps interactive records of bid activity.

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I've read that Priceline is sending out emails that it has been 72 hours since your last bid, before 72 hours have elapsed, and then locking you out for another 72 when you follow their email instructions. I haven't tested this myself, but I'm pretty sure I have gotten a 72-hour email when it had not been 72 hours yet.

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Did you use the same email address, credit card number, etc... as these are other tools that they can use to track whether you placed a similar bid within the last 72 hours.

Also, if using cable access, your IP address remains the same unless you reboot the modem (so they can track by IP address as well).

Please use this HOTWIRE and these PRICELINE LINKS: HOTELS, CAR RENTALS, and AIRFARE to begin your travel purchases

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I've read that Priceline is sending out emails that it has been 72 hours since your last bid, before 72 hours have elapsed, and then locking you out for another 72 when you follow their email instructions. I haven't tested this myself, but I'm pretty sure I have gotten a 72-hour email when it had not been 72 hours yet.

That just happened to me. I did receive an e-mail suggesting I re-bid, so I did... only to be shot down by the 'not yet 72 hrs.' return e-mail. However, I did not have to wait an additional 72 hrs. to place an identical bid. I think I did it the very next day.... still rejected :-(

JB

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