How to bid on a New York City Hotel with Priceline
By: Josh - Josh@CheapInTheCity.com
Last Updated: July 24, 2012
A holiday in the Big Apple has become the norm for Europeans and Americans alike. According to the New York Sun, the average cost of a NYC hotel room has hit $350 per night! A couple days stay could pay the mortgage on your house. How do you land an affordable hotel room in New York City without breaking the bank?
Priceline – Saving the big bucks
With Priceline, things work a bit differently. You can use Priceline just as you would other discount hotel sites, but there is also the option to “name your own price”.
Naming your own price can save you a substantial amount of money. How?
This is how it works: Hotels often have rooms available which they can not fill. To help fill these rooms and guarantee that they will stay filled they take bids from Priceline users. Once they accept your bid, you can not cancel (although there is a cancellation insurance option) and your credit card is charged.
The hotel is willing to take a lower sum of money to guarantee that their hotel rooms will be filled. The hotels would prefer to get $100 per night than nothing at all, even if that room typically goes for $350 per night.
The Waldorf Astroia for $100 per Night
I once landed a room at the Waldorf Astoria for exactly $100 per night. When I looked the same room up on the hotel’s website, it was going for a whopping $485 per night.
At the end of the day, the Waldorf got their empty room filled, and I saved a ton of money.
Keep in Mind
You do not get to select which hotel you will be staying at. You select the number of stars and the general location, but not the specific hotel. Any hotel which meets your criteria may accept your bid, and once they do it is very difficult, if not impossible to cancel your reservation.
Although rooms are guaranteed to be for two adults, sometimes the hotel will book you in a room with a single bed. This may be fine for a couple or a single traveler but if you’re on vacation with a buddy or your dad, that may be a bit awkward. Twice this happened to me, and both times the hotel upgraded us to a Jr. suite, which was great. I recommend calling the hotel right after your bid is accepted and asking them to place you in a room with two beds. They may not be able to, so take that into consideration.
When to book with Priceline
You will have a better chance of landing a cheap room with Priceline if it is a last minute bid. If you try it a month in advance the hotel may feel they have plenty of time to fill their rooms and so may not take your lower bid. If it is a day or two before, though, the hotels will be more likely to accept your bid as they are worried they may have empty rooms.
Booking your room for a weekend will increase your odds of landing a room, because business travelers are at home and hotels tend to be emptier.
Step by Step: How to Book a NYC Hotel on Priceline
Here’s how you go about booking a room through Priceline:
First go to the site and select the “hotels” tab.
On the right of the screen you will see an option to “For Deeper Discounts NAME YOUR OWN PRICE start here”, click it.
A small window will pop up. On that window, enter the city, dates and number of rooms and then click “Bid Now”.
On the next screen you will see a map of New York City and locations to pick from. Select the locations you would be willing to stay at. Don’t be too picky, the more you select the more likely you will get your cheap room. I’d strongly advise making sure to select the midtown locations, as there are a substantial number of hotels in those locations. But select as many as you find suitable.
Below the map you will select the number of stars you’d be willing to accept.
Below that in the next box, enter your bid (name your own price).
In the last box on that page enter your name and select "Preview Offer".
If your bid is extreamly low, a page will come up saying "We want you to get your hotel room" and will tell you that you may want to bid higher. If you want to change your bid, do so here. If not, simply re-enter your original bid and click next.
On the next page you will confirm the entered information by initialing it and clicking "continue".
You will also be given an option to purchase trip cancellation insurance. If you do this, make sure to read the details of the insurance package. I have never purchased the insurance.
On the next page you will enter your payment information.
After that, you click “Book Now” and you’re off. The system will send out alerts to hotels which meet your criteria and if any accept your bid, you will be notified. Sometimes this takes a few minutes. If a hotel accepts your bid, you’re set. You can go to the hotel's website to see how much you saved. If your bid is not accepted, go back and raise your bid, add more location, choose a lower star rating or do a combination of all three.
Follow these guidelines to get the best deal through Priceline’s “name your own price” program.
#1 Choose as many locations as you can. Pick all of the locations in NYC where you would be willing to stay. Make sure to pick the Midtown locations as the area has many hotels.
#2 Start at 4-5 stars.
#3 Enter $80 to $100 as your first bid.
If accepted, congratulations! If not, re-bid. Keep the same locations as entered before and go down to 3-4 stars. Enter $80 to $100 again as your bid. Continue this process until you reach the lowest number of stars you’d be willing to accept or your bid is accepted. I normally do not go under three stars.
If nothing is accepted, start at 4-5 stars again and increase your bid by $10 to $20 and repeat the process until your bid is accepted.
NOTE: If you start your bid with a new price, but don't change anything else (number of stars, locations, etc.) you will have to wait 24-hours to re-bid! If you don't want to wait the 24 hours, you can start from the very beginning of the process and enter your credit card information again. This often works for me. Sometimes (although this has not happened to me recently) you will have to use a totally different credit card to get around the 24-hour wait period.
Don’t start too high. Your starting bid should be between $80 and $100 for a New York City hotel booked through Priceline’s “name your own price” program. Often these bids will be accepted, so why start higher?
By utilizing the above tips, you can save yourself a ton of money on your New York City hotel, which you can use else ware on your trip to the Big Apple.