Priceline.com’s Travel Ekspert Offers Crash Course In Negotiating Killer Hotel Deals

Can you speak the language of the deal? 2009 is shaping up to be a banner year for bargains as hotels aggressively court travelers to fill unsold rooms. Today priceline.com’s  resident “Travel Ekspert,” Brian Ek, offered some on-the-spot tutoring for leisure travelers looking to get the most out of priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service.
“Negotiating your price on a hotel room is really very simple, and homework is the key,” said Ek. “Once you check around and have a feel for the published prices and typical discounts for the type of hotel you want, it’s easy to negotiate a great deal.”

Here are The Travel Ekspert’s recommended steps to scoring a bargain hotel rate using priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service:

Step #1. Review how priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service works.

Customers using priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service can save up to 50% over the published prices found on major online hotel reservation services. Priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service is different from fixed-price hotel reservation services. Customers choose the city, neighborhood, dates, hotel star level and price they want to pay. Priceline.com tries to find a matching hotel that is willing to accept that discount. If successful, the room is booked on the spot and customers receive instant confirmation along with the name of their hotel. Once booked, rooms cannot be changed or cancelled. To see a quick video demonstration on how to use priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® hotel service, visit http://tickets.priceline.com/Customerservice/FAQ/howitworks/hotel.asp

Step #2. Check out the published prices for the city, star level, neighborhood and dates you want.

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Start by getting a general feel for what the type of hotel you want typically costs. You can find that information on priceline.com.

Step #3. See what kinds of deals other priceline.com Name Your Own Price® hotel customers are getting.

Priceline.com’s hotel service frequently displays bid prices that were recently successful for other customers. Priceline.com also has a feature, called Winning Bids, where customers can check out an interactive map to see recently successful bid prices for specific star levels and neighborhoods in certain cities around the country. (Here’s a tip - if you join priceline.com’s free rewards program, you’ll get access to a Winning Bids map that has even more cities listed). Several independent Web sites with no ties to priceline.com also provide bid information. Note - all of this data should be viewed as directional only, since your travel dates could be different than other bids, and hotel pricing - especially in this environment - is constantly changing.

Step #4. Look for additional factors that could swing the deal even more in your favor.

Is your stay going to be during the hotel’s traditional shoulder- or off-seasons? Is this a big convention city that has lost some of its business travel market? Are you staying on a weekend when business travelers aren’t in town? Are you booking at the last-minute? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to get even more aggressive in your priceline.com bidding strategy.

Step #5. Strategize your offer plans - A and B.

If you’ve done your homework and your offer is reasonable, you could get your priceline.com hotel room on the first try. But if you don’t, it’s always good to have a backup plan. Statistically speaking, priceline.com customers generally enjoy a high success rate with Name Your Own Price® bids that are up to 50% below published prices. If your first offer (Plan A) isn’t successful, here are some fallback options:

  * Wait 24 hours and bid again for the same stay, upping your bid a little.

  * Bid again immediately by changing your dates, star levels or neighborhoods. You can change the price or leave it alone, but you can’t make an immediate re-bid by just changing the price. If your followup bid doesn’t work, you can change it again and re-bid. I know some folks who have made this an art form.

That’s it. Now you’re ready to step right up and make your deal. There’s never a charge to make an offer and you’ll know instantly whether it was successful or not. Once you get that room at a fat discount, you’ll feel like you won the lottery. Be sure to tell family and friends about your new-found negotiating skills.
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