|(Photo by Hobvias Sudoneighm)|
When it comes right down to it, the differences from one hotel to the next can often be quite superficial. One might have cooler decor, another a Starbucks in the lobby and a third a front desk staff that doesn't seem harried when one checks in. But in its essential function, by which I mean as a place to sleep, often a wide range of hotels in each destination serve the traveler equally well.
Which may be why Priceline.com, which allows travelers to save large amounts by "bidding blindly" on hotel properties, remains a success story in the travel industry. The big bugaboo with the site has always been users nervousness about overbidding. Since its uncertain what the hotel one will get is, how the heck does one know what to offer?
In the past I'd recommended the site BiddingforTravel.com, where users spilled the beans about what they paid on Priceline and which hotel they snagged.
But it looks like a better site has come along. Not only does BiddingTraveler.com let buyers in on the kinds of savings that Priceline is offering, and the hotels its consistently using, but it also manages user's bids. Consumers enter both a "lowball" bid and a "final offer" (these are done with the advice of the site). The site then submits these offers, raising the bid in small implements until its accepted, or the price limit is reached.
The savings can be tremendous. In New York City, for example, BiddingTraveler is showing that the Sheraton Tribeca was recently snagged for $130/night on Priceline, despite the fact that its retail price on competing, non-blind websites is $217. For Paris jaunts, travelers have been scoring rooms at the Meridien Etoille Hotel on the Right Bank for $118; those who went to other sites paid $183 for those same rooms.