Bidding on Priceline with “Name Your Own Price” to get the best deal on hotels seems like a daunting task for those that don’t know how to do it but it really isn’t that hard. My goal for this article is to break it down into the easiest way with an example, screenshots and everything. After this you’ll be bidding on Priceline in no time!
This is “Name Your Own Price” for dummies.
“Name Your Own Price” Is No Longer In The System
Since early 2020, links to the “Name Your Own Price” program for hotels have disappeared. While there haven’t been any official announcements for it, it’s likely that we won’t see it come back but if it does we’ll be sure to update the news here.
The new program that they have is called “Pricebreakers” where you get to see sets of 3 hotels at a set price. You pick the set that interest you and they pick one of the 3 hotels.
In the below, learn about how it used to work. If they bring it back, it should still come in handy.
Read more about travel hacking
- Car rental coupon codes you need to know about
- Hilton hotels that only cost Hilton Honors 5000 points
- Best travel credit cards in Canada
- Best travel hacking tips
Current deals on Priceline
- Since “Name Your Own Price” is no more, the current Priceline deal will fetch you 5% off by using code BBOCT20. Ends October 31, 2020.
Here's what we're covering:
- Priceline Background
- Sample Case Study
- Steps for how to use “Name Your Own Price”
- Notes to consider about Priceline
- Don’t forget about Hotwire
Priceline is a website that sells discounted everything from hotels, car rentals and flights. When you do a normal search for hotels on it you can get some decent deals but the tricks it to learn how to use the bidding tool called “Name Your Own Price”.
Name Your Own Price
So what is Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” and how did it work?
In the past I was consistently able to find hotels for under $100 all around the world and in the early 2000s this was the best way to get the best deals on hotels.
Why not hostels you ask? Sure, there’s Hostelworld but there was a time when I was travelling often with larger groups of people. The cost of the hotel split 4 ways is cheaper than paying for a bunk in a hostel.
What’s the catch? Well the catch of course is that when you’re bidding there are 3 sections to consider: Region, Star Rating and Price. The correct combination of the 3 if accepted will land you a hotel somewhere that meets those criteria. Of course, you don’t know what the hotel will be but there are tools that give you better odds instead of throwing a dart with your eyes blind folded.
You’re allowed to bid multiple times in a day but the stipulation is that you have to change Price and one of lowering the star rating or adding one more region. The name of the game is coming up with as many acceptable combinations as possible before quitting for the day.
If you’ve failed, keep trying. You can re-try from scratch every 24 hours.
It was fun. Okay fine, it was stressful as well especially when doing this down to the wire but there was some excitement around beating the system and getting an insanely good price on hotels.
Sample Case Study
For the below steps, we’ll be focusing on a specific example to give you an idea of how “Name Your Own Price” works.
- Let’s say I want to book a one room in Toronto, Canada for 2 from December 30 to January 1.
- You’re looking to stay in the downtown core.
Steps for how to use “Name Your Own Price”
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to find the best deals on hotels with Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”.
Head to Better Bidding
Better Bidding is my favourite forum site that gives you a good starting point for what hotels are available via Priceline and at what average rate. This is basically a forum where people simply post what they’ve won based on certain criteria so it’s a massive database if you will.
Search for your city of interest.
In this case study, Canada is in its own section and then further click into “Priceline – Canada”. You’ll have to use the search to narrow it to “Toronto”
Find out how much others have been winning bids for
Things to focus on when you’re researching on this forum:
- What is the average price people are winning for your region of interest.
- What kind of hotels are people getting.
From a quick browse of the 4-star hotels, the lowest price seems to be $75 and the highest is beyond $100. Great so now we have a starting point. You can also look into some of these forum posts as they sometimes have a lot more detailed information about exactly all the steps they took to win.
Get to know your zones
So what kind of hotels might we be interested in? Let’s say I’m okay with Downtown North and Downtown South.
Okay so back in the Canada sub forum, click on “Priceline/Hotwire Hotel Lists and Tips for Canada” and then “Priceline Hotel List – Canada”.
Scroll down to Toronto North and Toronto South and you’ll see a list of possible hotels that people have been winning.
This list is as updated as the admin has done so. From my experience it’s pretty accurate.
Decide on your strategy
Now is your time to formulate a strategy. Where do you want to start, what is your max, and at what increments you are going to take (I usually do $2 or $5).
Head to Priceline and find the “Name Your Own Price” page
Now that your legwork is done, time to dive into Priceline
The first part is straight forward, enter in the details on the home page and click on “Search Now!”
In the next screen, ignore the options that it pops up with and click on the banner on the right side that says “Name Your Own Price…save up to 60% off…”.
Choose your zone, star, and set a price
Start off with exactly what you’re looking for (Downtown South, 4*, $75) [in the screenshot I’m putting in $1 so I won’t win].
Fill in your name and click to go next.
Sometimes you’ll get this screen telling you how ridiculously low your bid is to pressure you to bump it up. Click on “Skip this Page” and ignore.
Next is a summary page.
Make sure you don’t get the insurance. Enter your initials and click on “Continue”
You will then have to fill out all your information including credit card. There’s no way around this because if you win, you have to pay.
Subscribing isn’t a bad idea especially if you’re going to be doing multiple days of bidding.
Also deselect to box that automatically subscribes you to their spam.
When done, click on “Book Now”
Getting to your first results
It’ll chug away and your first try will probably be a fail.
Next iteration, add the other acceptable region you’re willing to work with. You will most likely not be flexible on the star rating so keep that the same. Bump up your bid by $2 or $5.
Repeat all the same steps.
THE BIG SECRET:
If you win, that’s awesome. Otherwise, let’s say you’ve run out of regions you’re willing to stay in but you want to keep bidding.
Now here’s the secret I can let you in on. Most of the time you’ll be looking for the 4-star hotels however there are a ton of small regions in a city that don’t have 4-star hotels. So on the re-bid, simply slowly add these regions in.
But how do you find out those regions that don’t have a 4-star hotel?
That’s when we turn back to our trusty Better Bidding forum and back to the list of all the possible hotels for each region.
For the case study, Brampton, Burlington- Oakville South, Lakeshore, Oakville – Mississauga South only 3-star hotels. So on your next re-bid. Bump your price by another $2-$5 and add Brampton.
Essentially you’re getting a free rebid on Downtown South and North 4-star since any of the subsequent regions you add don’t even have 4-star hotels.
Keep doing this until you run out of regions.
Try every 24 hours
Try again in 24 hours and eventuually you should get a pretty killer price.
That said, know your limits though as you’ll feel the pressure to keep increasing your price but there’ll be a certain point where it might just be cheaper to book directly with the hotel or use something like Booking.com.
Notes to consider about Priceline
- Obviously a specific hotel can never be guaranteed
- Remember that there’s always a service fee and tax added so you’re not just paying Rate X # Nights
- Everything in USD
- There is no cancellation so if you’re bidding be sure that you’re actually ready to book and pay
- Double occupancy is guaranteed but if you’re looking to squeeze more people in you will either to research all the possible hotels in the region to see if the type of rooms people are winning can support more than two people and be okay with the risk that you may get a room that is only for two (i.e. 2 single beds commonly found in Europe)
- There is no guarantee that you’ll get a double bed or two singles but this is much easier to swing your way by either calling in advance or asking when you get there. Most front desk people are wiling to change that for you
Don’t forget about Hotwire
While I know the focus on this piece is on Priceline, Hotwire works very similarly when it comes to zones and mystery hotels.
Hotewire, luckily does not have any complicated bidding system. It simply shows you the stars, zone, and fixed price.
The key to having confidence that you’ll get a hotel that you’re looking for is to again use BetterBidding.
Simply navigate to the subforum the city is located in and do a search on that zone name to see what comes up.
Alternatively, go to the compiled list of hotels put together by the BetterBidding team.
I hope you enjoyed this Tips & Tricks piece on Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” program that’s now been sun-setted.