I worked in hotels and I was a revenue manager (handles reservations) and the thing about Priceline and similar type is you HAVE TO READ IT.
How it works is Priceline reserves a number of rooms with a hotel. The Rev Mgr will typically only give Priceline the number of rooms the hotel can’t sell on its own.
So let’s say it looks like I will have 50 rooms that I won’t sell for a weekend. I give 25 to Priceline to sell. I also tell Priceline the absolute minimum price the hotel will accept.
This is where you negotiate. For instance, I may say, I’ll give you 25 room at minimum of $50 to sell. Priceline will say, “OK” Or “We can’t sell that many, it’s too high a price.” So they will take maybe 10 at $50 or take none and in that case the Rev Mgr probably will drop the minimum acceptable.
I do know for a fact that Priceline will take ANY BID over the minimum set. So if you bid even $51 Priceline will take it, in the case of my example.
Of course Priceline deals with a lot of hotels and hotels don’t know what the other is bidding as a low, so Priceline will give you what IT thinks maximizes its revenue.
For example if I set my minimum for $50 and the Coyote Inn sets $25 as its minimum acceptable rate, when the the bid for a hotel comes in for $51, Priceline will sell the Coyote Inn’s room because they make $26 off of it as opposed to a dollar for my hotel
Also note Priceline set ITS OWN ratings for hotels. These are often very different from AAA diamond and Mobil’s star rating system. So a top hotel in Priceline may be only an average hotel to AAA or Mobil.
You also have to realize Priceline won’t let you change because not only would everyone do it, but they allow you to purchase INSURANCE against change of plans. This is another way they make money
As for hotels, you won’t get the top line rooms from Priceline. In my example if I have 50 rooms vacant, as a Rev Mgr, I’m gonna make sure that the people paying less, (Priceline sold rooms) are going to get the less desirable rooms. You know the rooms, by the elevator or ice machine, the rooms without a view or facing an alley and so forth. And that is fair. The customer booking through the hotel directly and paying $100 a night, should have the better rooms
Finally you have to realize the ability to substitute. A long time ago I tried to use Priceline for a trip from Chicago to NYC. By default it allows Priceline to use alternate airports.
This has to be watched. For instance, Mitchell Field in Milwaukee was listed as an alternate to O’Hare and Philly’s airport was listed as an alternate to LaGuardia.
So when I tried to book O’Hare to LaGuardia, I could’ve gotten Milwaukee to Philadelphia
Priceline CAN be a good deal. But you have to be REALLY flexible and you have to think about all the possibilities.