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Old Apr 18, 09, 6:40 pm   #1
iss
 
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priceline bid deals better closer to arrival or weeks in advance? Experiences

Hi everyone, I did a search but wasn't exactly finding what I was looking for.

I'm planning a weekend trip to Minneapolis for the very last weekend in May. My question to the experienced bidders...am I better off gambling on a priceline hotel bid now 6 wks ahead or should I wait a a little closer to my arrival time in order to snag a better deal?
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Old Apr 18, 09, 7:08 pm   #2
 
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Yes, start now

You can check out the comments about early and late bidding on www.betterbidding.com.

There are a few cities where the hotels seem to wait until the last minute to put rooms in PL inventory, but Minneapolis doesn't seem to be one of them.

Do recognize that your credit card will be charged immediately when you win on PL.

6 weeks really isn't all that early. Cruisers who have booked their cruise and need a pre- or post-cruise hotel night will ask about bidding many months ahead of time, sometimes almost a year.

I think the logical approach is to do a bit of research so you know what a good deal is, and then explore the lower levels now to see if there is a good deal out there. Then you can work up gradually.

I like sort of a "sweep" pattern for bidding, where you only bid about once a week, but each time start low and work up with a series of bids. That way you catch a new lower-priced offering without overbidding.

Minneapolis has a lot of zones and quite a number of them don't have the higher star levels, so (depending on the level at which you are bidding) you can have quite a few free rebids. This will let you do the sweep approach.

Do spend a little while checking actual rates from the hotel web sites. Also take a look at what you could do with Hotwire, as that can serve as sort of a cap for your bidding.

The above was the long answer. The short answer is - "Yes, start now, but cautiously and with good research."

Romelle
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Old Apr 18, 09, 7:09 pm   #3
 
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If your plans are firm, it's definitely not too early to try bidding. Just remember that you won't be able to get your money back if you're successful and later need to change your plans.

I've gotten great deals as much as five months in advance, and as little as a day or two. There's really no "magic window" for the best deals. And sometimes an offer that is refused one day will be accepted the next. It just depends on what they have in their inventory at the time you bid.

If you haven't already done so, check out biddingfortravel.com and betterbidding.com. You should be able to get a pretty good idea what hotels are going for from these sites, and also which properties you are likely to win. I almost always get the hotel I expect after reviewing the wins posted there.
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Old Apr 19, 09, 5:56 am   #4
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Welcome to FlyerTalk, iss!

The posters above have provided excellent information. I'll just add a couple more tidbits:

* Perform a Google search for your target city's convention bureau. Most of those websites have event calendars that will allow you to check to be sure that your dates don't conflict with 120,000 Shriners or a big Electronics show, etc. Priceline rooms often become scarce when a big event is in town.

* In some (but not all) cities that have significant convention business, hotels typically block a number of rooms for convention attendees. When the cutoff point for booking the convention is reached (typically 30 days, although it varies), rooms are sometimes released back into general inventory. Some of those rooms may go into Priceline inventory.

* When checking betterbidding.com and other similiar sites, pay attention to the dates of when the bidding data was posted. The older the data, the less reliable it tends to be.
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Old Apr 19, 09, 10:06 am   #5
 
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Well, I agree with some of the advice posted above but wonder just how much help we can be.You acknowledge that bidding 6 weeks in advance is risky. It seems evident that the "risk" you are concerned about is that you will successfully bid for a non-refundable Priceline room and then will not be able to use it. Generally, the further in advance that you buy a non-refundable PL room the greater the chance that you will have to eat the reservation. So you are weighing possible Priceline savings against the risk of blowing the PL reservation entirely. You are really the only person who has the facts on which this judgment can be made. Only you know how frequently your job requires that you change plans, how often an illness generally affects you, how determined you are to make the trip, how likely it is that the trip could fall apart because of events in Minnesota, and how anyone accompaning you might be affected by similar problems. If you and any companion are "rock solid" in keeping to a schedule then you could bid well in advance with little risk. If not, you should reduce the risk by bidding closer to your arrival date. In today's troubled economy with hotel occupancy way down, bidding later on should work out fine and with little risk.
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Old Apr 19, 09, 2:27 pm   #6
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thanks for the feedback, links and welcome everyone My travel plans are pretty set now. I was just real curious because of several experiences this past year where I would book rooms directly with a hotel or a site like Orbitz a month or longer in advance only to see the rate drop like 2 or 3 weeks before check-in. Lesson learned that hitting the trigger too early is not always a money saver nowadays lol. Wasn't too sure If this phenomena would occur with hotel bidding too.

I've seen some hotels near msp in my $50-60/nt range and I have a few coupon codes I can use. I'll go do do a little more research in the meantime. hopefully i'll be able to book by the end of the week.

thanks again!
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Old Apr 19, 09, 8:26 pm   #7
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If my plans are firm, I start looking on and off once the plans are firm. I booked 7 months in advance for a hotel in Anchorage for last summer when there was a price on hotwire of $50/night plus taxes/fees. Bid up to and slightly over that on PL (so the total all-in prices were equivalent) and they didn't bite.

Same for this summer - needed one night in Anchorage and snagged a hotwire price of $64 for a similar hotel, confirmed late last year. The nice thing about this win? Hotwire later downgraded this hotel from a 3* to a 2.5 star though at the time of acceptance the star level was almost irrelevant since I pretty much knew which hotel I would get anyway. But they gave me a $25 credit toward a future purchase when the hotel was downgraded.

Moral? Never too early to start but be sure your plans are firm.

John
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Old Apr 20, 09, 12:06 am   #8
 
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Personally, I would never bid more than 10 days or so from stay date. And, I have found prices get lower as the stay date approaches.

Of course, you need to have a back up plan if it turns out PL never meets your bidding expectations.
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Old Apr 20, 09, 9:22 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biggestbopper View Post
Personally, I would never bid more than 10 days or so from stay date.
There have been times when I bid long in advance and by 2-3 weeks before arrival, the hotel was actually sold out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggestbopper View Post
And, I have found prices get lower as the stay date approaches.
This is obviously a generalization and since you never (no longer?) bid more than 10 days or so from stay date, your theory has less credence since you don't regularly bid far in advance. But even those of us who do bid far in advance obviously stop bidding once accepted, so direct comparisons are tough, even with info from sites like betterbidding.com.

Many theories are out there but it is like airline tickets - find a price you can live with and once purchased, don't look back.
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Old Apr 27, 09, 12:32 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biggestbopper View Post
Personally, I would never bid more than 10 days or so from stay date. And, I have found prices get lower as the stay date approaches.

Of course, you need to have a back up plan if it turns out PL never meets your bidding expectations.
I bid three weeks in advance for this past Saturday night in Nashville. This was fortunate as nearly all of the city was sold out due to the Nashville marathon and several other events
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Old Apr 27, 09, 5:20 am   #11
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Price levels are set by the hotels in standard tiers of prices and then they release rooms as far in advance as they can in order to make them available for purchase by PL customers. Hotels do not change their prices as the date gets closer but if they need to release more rooms, availability will increase as the date approaches. However, if they get busy with regular price customers, the rooms will be removed. So the best approach is to decide on a bidding strategy based on research and try it as soon as the trip is definite and avoid bidding too high and bid as frequently as you care too.
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Old Apr 27, 09, 5:33 pm   #12
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update

Just a little update. I went ahead and booked. I pretty much stalked biddingfortravel and better bidding like crazy for tips. No luck with getting a 4 star. I used $40 as my starting bid in downtown only. I used free rebids adding areas I knew had no 4 stars and kept rebidding in $2 increments stopping at $48....Nada. Decided to add 3.5 and dropped to a lower bid and boom I immediately won the Millenium hotel in downtown Minneapolis @ 45/nt. Hope I didn't do too bad for a first timer. Was hoping for the Hyatt Ah...well at least it's across the street.
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Old Apr 27, 09, 6:14 pm   #13
 
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You not only didn't "... do too bad", you did extremely well! A very nice hotel. Depending on your exact dates, rack is anywhere from $79 to $139.

You probably know the light rail runs from the airport right down town Minneapolis? Really handy, assuming you come in by air?

Romelle
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Old Apr 28, 09, 4:49 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romelle View Post
You not only didn't "... do too bad", you did extremely well! A very nice hotel. Depending on your exact dates, rack is anywhere from $79 to $139.

You probably know the light rail runs from the airport right down town Minneapolis? Really handy, assuming you come in by air?

Romelle
I'm a total convert now. Definitely will be using PL for all future bookings.

Thanks for the tip about the light rail. I ended up using it last year for the first time heading back to the airport and found it extremely convenient and cheap.
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