Friday, July 10, 2009

Priceline and BetterBidding

The Web, and the information it renders accessible, have a near-infinite amount of applications, the greatest of which is facilitating cheapness - er, frugality. With just an Internet connection and a little savvy, your run-of-the-mill cheapskate can grow into the uber-miser (the miser meister?). Today, I am going to give a quick lesson on one of my favorite methods to save a bundle.

I am big fan of traveling. There is not much I would rather do than pack up and go on an impromptu trip with the wife. Unfortunately, one of my least favorite things is paying for said vacation. Enter Priceline has been around since the time of the Stegosaurus, so you have probably heard of it. In addition to more traditional methods of booking hotels, flights, etc., they also have their signature model. Let's take a look at this model with regard to hotels.

In the Priceline model, you select the city you would like to go to, the dates when you want to go, the section of the city you would like to stay in, and the level of hotel (up to 5 stars) that you would like to stay at. Then, you enter the price you would be willing to pay for a room meeting the aforementioned parameters and enter your credit card info. If Priceline accepts your bid, your card is automatically charged and the hotel where you will be staying is revealed. If your bid is not accepted, you have to wait 24 hours to bid again or change your search parameters. This is to prevent you from starting your bid at $1 and incrementing by $1 until you find the sweet spot.

Pretty simple. But, how does one know that he or she is getting the best deal? It KILLS me to think that I got a good deal and to later find out that someone else got a better one - kills me.
OK, so we need some help.

Enter BetterBidding is a simple discussion board where you can search for a city and find see what others were able to bid successfully for hotel rooms. It has three real uses: 1) to attempt to predetermine what the mystery hotel is, 2) to find out what others were able to successfully (and unsuccessfully) bid for a room, and 3) to brag about the deal that you got so that others can attempt to replicate it.

Give it a try. Go to and search for some city. Check out the posts and you will get a better idea of what I mean.

Now that we have a rough idea of the range of successful bids and the possible hotels we could be dealt, we are in a better position to make a bid on a room. I usually try to adjust for day of week, season, and these days, for the sagging economy.

Recently, I was able to get the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto for $50USD/night (usually over $200) and the Hyatt in Buffalo for $40USD/night. Not bad.

In conclusion, I believe that some guy said that "variety is the spice of life." Rubbish. Competition is the essence of life and what better way to compete than to save a bunch of money and get to brag about it all in one fell swoop? I highly recommend that you attempt this method if you're going on a trip and you don't care at which specific hotel you stay. Obviously, this wouldn't be preferable for traveling to a conference where you want to stay at the hotel where the conference is being held.

Good luck, and let me know if you are able to score any good deals!


NOTE: If you know of other innovative ways to cheap out, I would love to hear about them - really, please contact me ASAP. I could be wasting money as we speak!


petrofsk said...

Betterbidding also does a good job of explaining "free rebids" on Priceline.

Check out: Post on Re-bids

and for a visual representation:

With Visuals

-- Warren

Justin said...

I used Priceline to book a hotel room in Jersey. It was my first time using this site and I was quite happy with the customer services.

Chris Mustazza said...

Thanks for the comment, Justin! Glad that it worked out for you. Best, --Chris