How would you like to save 46% on a hotel stay as I recently did? The trick is to play Priceline off of Hotwire. Let me explain through the lens of my recent booking.
I needed to stay in Estes Park, CO for one night. Searching on Orbitz.com, the cheapest rate I found was $90 for a 2-star hotel.
I then jumped over to Hotwire.com. With Hotwire, unlike with Orbitz, you do not find out the name of the specific hotel you are booking until after you book it. As a result of this feature, Hotwire can offer deeply discounted rates.
At this point I knew that there was at least one 3-star hotel in the Estes Park area that was willing to sell a room for $70 for the night in question. Armed with that knowledge, I went over to Priceline.com.
Priceline allows you to book hotels a few different ways. The option you want to choose is the “Name Your Own Price” method, which looks like this:
Here’s how the “Name Your Own Price” method of booking works:
- First, you indicate what city (or, in larger cities, parts of the city) your hotel must be in. Priceline shows you a map to ensure you that your hotel will land within an acceptable distance of where you want to be.
- Next, you stipulate what star rating the hotel must have, e.g. 2-star or 5-star hotel. Like Hotwire, Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” method of booking does not show you the name of the hotel until after you book. But it does show which amenities are guaranteed at each star level.
- Finally, you say the most you are willing to pay for a hotel in that area with the star level you desire or higher.
In my case, I indicated that I wanted a 3-star (or higher) hotel in Estes Park, and that I was willing to pay $60 for it.
Priceline warned me that the median retail price for a 3-star hotel in the area I selected was $137. But I already knew that I could get a 3-star hotel on Hotwire for $70, so there was no point in naming my own price on Priceline for anything more than $69.
I submitted my $60 bid to Priceline . . . and it was accepted!
A 46% Savings Off a 3-star Hotel
Having just scored a deal, I of course then wanted to quantify the extent of the score . . . you know, not for any self-congratulatory motives, but for the statistical benefit of you, my readers! 😉
I quickly checked Orbitz to see what the lowest price was that I could have booked a 3-star hotel for. It was $111.75. From that perspective, by (1) doing a little bit of “research” on Hotwire and then (2) booking for $60 through Priceline’s “name your own price,” I saved $51.75 ($111.75-60.00) or 46.3% on a 3-star hotel.
Saving over $50 in 20 minutes works out to a savings rate of $150/hour. As I explained in this post, saving $150/hour is a good deal unless you make over $300,000/year. So, yeah, for most folks this is a great deal!
And I think that is a very justifiable way to calculate the value of this Hotwire/Priceline hotel hack.
Another Perspective: A 3-star Hotel for $60 Rather than a 2-Star Hotel for $90
But to be honest, I was willing to stay in the cheapest possible hotel. When I travel with my family, I like to cash in hotel points for 4-star hotels. But when I travel solo, as I did on this trip, I’m fine with the cheapest accommodations, provided they are located fairly close to where I need to be.
So for me, personally, here’s how I’d value the score. I got a 3-star hotel for $60 rather than a 2-star hotel for $90. I spent 20 minutes to save $30, which is a good use of your time provided you don’t make more than $90/hour (i.e., about $180,000/year). And while saving that $30, I ended up in a 3-star hotel rather than a 2-star hotel. I’ll take it!
By the way, there are some further hacks to Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” booking method, which I will cover in a future post.
Question: Have you used Hotwire or Priceline to save on hotels and/or to stay at a nicer hotel for a similar price? Are there other tricks along these lines that you like to employ? You can leave a comment by clicking here. And if you liked this post, sign up here so that you never miss a future post.