I think it’s safe to say that every single person in the entire world loves William Shatner.

The guy is hilarious, and is not afraid to make a complete idiot of himself. One of his more ridiculous acting jobs includes his sponsorship of Priceline, the website where you can name your own price on hotels, flights and other stuff. Most commercials make me want to throw the nearest remote control or live animal at the TV screen, but I have always enjoyed the Priceline Negotiator bits.

Which is why I’m so sad to report that the Priceline Negotiator has died.

I love that there was a nun on the bus. She looks so horrified when he dies. Doesn’t she know he’s going to a better place?

At Least Priceline.com is Still Alive

Anyway, Tag is going to be the maid of honor in a wedding in March and we needed a hotel for the wedding weekend. I looked on Kayak, which is always my first stop because it aggregates multiple discount sites. Then I went to Hotwire to see what kind of deals they had, but holy crap it was expensive!

We’re going to College Station, Texas, not Chicago! I’m not paying $75 or $100 a night for a hotel! Unfortunately that’s what all these sites wanted (unless I wanted to stay in a Super 8).

Tag and I needed a hotel, and I needed to save money on it. I was running out of options, so I figured I would give this “name your own price” thing a shot and see if I could actually save any money.

I Saved 40% on My Hotel!

Priceline bidding is really easy. You pick the category of hotel (by number of stars) and the location. You set the price you are willing to pay, and if any hotel is willing to accept it then you’ve got yourself a hotel. The catch is you don’t know exactly what hotel you’re going to get; you just know you’ll get one in the location you specify and of the quality you selected.

College Station doesn’t have a lot of fancy hotels. In fact, the “best” hotel available on Priceline or Hotwire was a 3-star option. Tag and I decided we wanted a 2.5 or 3 star place, and for these categories we were looking at a minimum of $69 a night if we purchased outright. Only 4 of the 16 hotels were under $100. Seriously, it’s freaking College Station. No thank you.

The first day, I bid $50 for a 3-star hotel (cheapest one was $107). I knew it was low, but I wanted to start low and work my way up. Keep in mind, you can only make one bid every 24 hours for the same criteria (location and star-level). My $50 was rejected.

I changed the criteria from 3-star to 2.5-star and bid $45. Again, nothing.

I waited a day and upped the bid a bit. $55 for a 3-star place. This time it said “we got nothing, but we’ll let you bid immediately again if you want to bid $65”. I have a feeling that definitely would have been accepted, but I still didn’t want to spend that much. I decided to try my luck with the 2.5-star option.

This time I put in a bid for $53. This was $8 more expensive than my last bid, and I really wanted to just find a place and get it over with. And guess what…

Boom! Accepted. I got my hotel for $53 a night. The hotel I ended up with goes for $89 on Kayak.com, which means I saved about 40% by naming my own price on Priceline. My $53 a night is also $16, or 23% cheaper than the lowest available 2.5-star hotel if I had bought one outright.

How to Bid Most Effectively

Even though I saved a lot of money, I think I could have done better. First of all, my travel date is in two months, which means I had time to make lots of bids day after day. I shouldn’t have jumped from $45 to $53. Who knows how cheap I might have found if I was going up by $1 or $2 a day?

Also, it’s super important to bid for the fanciest hotels first. The bidding includes the level you pick and everything above it. If you fail on a 3-star bid, you can go back and try again on 2.5-stars. However, if you bid on a 2.5-star hotel first and fail, you can’t go back and do a 3-star hotel because all those hotels were included in your 2.5 star bid.

I’m a little upset I didn’t try Priceline earlier. Sure the commercials say that you can save 50%, but I assumed that was just in extreme circumstances. Looks like I’ll be starting my next travel plans on Priceline!

photo credit: vek