One time in Chicago, I needed a hotel room for the night, so I decided to try the Priceline bidding system. I selected a four star hotel, picked the Millennium Park, Loop and Grant Park zone and bid $50. To my surprise, not only was my bid accepted, but the hotel I received was the Swisshotel, one of the top hotels in the city. To understand the savings that can be realized through Priceline, click on the Swisshotel hotel and then click on the button to check rates. As I write this in late March of 2009, the hotel’s best available rate is $219 while the corporate rate is $199. Granted, I booked my room through Priceline in 2007, but you get the idea. And if you follow the tips below, you can get a resort or four star hotel for the price you would normally pay for a two or three star hotel using a site like hotels.com. Or if you are on a budget, you can get a two or three star hotel for the price of a motel.
Before we get started, here are a couple of important ground rules you need to know. First and most importantly, Priceline rooms are NON-REFUNDABLE. I repeat, you cannot get a refund on your room. And second, you won’t know the name and address of your hotel until AFTER you pay for it, you will only know the general area where the hotel is located. If you are a conservative person and plan meticulously, I suggest you book a room the traditional way on a site like hotels.com. However, if you don’t mind a slight gamble for a large reward, continue on.
There are three types of Priceline users: the novice, the journeyman and the expert. While all three types of users save money, the more seasoned user saves more money, stays in a better hotel class and is located in a more desirable area. Let’s start with the basics and work our way up.