Priceline Hotel: To hell with Priceline

By bellczar,

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I've used Priceline dozens of times successfully, but NYOP seems to belong to the past.  I earlier shared a story of placing over 80 bids in Chicago only to decide to buy somewhere else.  That has been typical of NYOP lately.  The fees keep getting higher, so if you have a chance to buy something elsewhere, it will almost certainly be that way. 


For the past week, I have been working on a NYOP for a hotel room in the Meadowlands area.  I have placed 64 bids.  These have all been flat rejected.  There has not been one counter-offer.  The dollar amount keeps getting higher and higher.  There was a time when the total would be about $10 higher than the product of your bid and nights.  No more.  One of my latest $65 bids for two nights has a total of $159.92, or about $15 per night premium for the stay.  The savings, if any, isn't worth the trouble of placing and keeping track of dozens of bids.


I have placed a cancellable reservation for a total of $110 at a national chain.  I might continue to try Priceline, but my expectation is that I will drop Priceline when the total gets to about $170 and just keep the reservation I have. 


I don't regard $65 per night as a niggardly offer in light of the times (years ago) that I have gotten rooms for $20 per night.  I know these hotels are not full.


tl;dr version: NYOP is less and less likely to happen, and if it does, you can probably get a similar room the same or cheaper by some other means.

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Just my two cents on this, and not necessarily disagreeing with you, but. . .


I work in the Meadowlands area and have for 15+ years.  Rather than a huge commute after a long work day, I often use Priceline to get a reasonably priced hotel.  One thing I definitely have noticed is that this area is affected seasonally due to the proximity to NYC.   Summer time, the tourist traffic compounded with business travelers and construction workers make available inventory drop dramatically.


I judge inventory based on all the sites I search -- including priceline express deals and hotwire (of course using the widgets for both from this site to start my search :).   If they aren't showing a lot of those deals for hotel star ratings I expect, then I don't expect a successful bid with NYOP.


It is my belief that hotels often overbook because of their easy cancellation policies, (much like the airlines, much like you and I both do with hotels).  The only way they are taking your money in advance is if their actuarial models say they have EXCESS inventory for the time span in question.  I believe they do not want to "fill" their hotels this time of year with low cost priceline bids, I believe they are counting on tourists, stranded airline passengers to come in and pay full price (or a premium) for their hotels.   I have been at those 2*'s and seen them turn away customers because the hotel was booked, although the parking lot looked empty.   (Weekly rates for the construction crews and consultants I would guess).


My suspicion Chicago had a similar situation with tourists.


I got no skin in this game, and not defending priceline at all, and I think NYOP is frustrating at times, (like you, I haven't even bothered recently), but after the summer, you can bet I'll be back at bidding expecting big discounts.  :)  

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