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Secrets of Success With Priceline

Lorilyn Bailey saved nearly $200/night on her hotel bill through Priceline.com -- read on to find out how she did it!

[Editor's Note: I would rent a car without hesitation through Priceline, or its competitor, Hotwire; in fact, we recently saved $100 on a two-week rental. However, for air tickets and hotel reservations, be very cautious and specific in your criteria. You have to accept the deal they find for you if they match your bid price--regardless of flight time, location in your city, etc. Also, you can often get "bonus dollars" added to your bid, if you get to Priceline through some of its affiliates. For instance, smarterliving.com, a travel site specializing in rock-bottom fares, often offers to add $25 to a priceline bid if you use its gateway to priceline.
--Shel Horowitz]

Wondering if you'll really save money using Priceline? I'm always up for saving a buck or two and I was amazed at how much I could save -- $1,000 just in California hotel costs alone. I went to Florida in and California, and my sister Sue has arranged for me, via Priceline, the following deals:

Florida
- $130 ROUNDTRIP Raleigh, NC, to Orlando
- $50/night for the only 4-star hotel in Downtown Disney (normally about $215/night)

California
- $130 ROUNDTRIP Raleigh to Los Angeles on TWA (Really! It was made in the middle of a price war, now ended.)
- For the week we're there, we'll stay at two 4-star hotels for $40 and $50 a night (normally $180/night)
- We'll also spend two days in a suite at a Residence Inn for $30 a night(!) (Normally $159/night.) Those are in the LA and Newport Beach areas.
- And then we'll spend two days at a San Diego resort on the harborfront for $77 a night. (Lowest published price is $269/night.)
- Car is $21 a day. (She apologized for not getting it cheaper.)

The Web site is http://www.priceline.com of course, but the big secret is studying this message board to learn how to bid effectively: http://www.BiddingForTravel.com -- it's run by a woman named Sheryl who knows all the ins and outs. People use the boards to share information, and if you abide by Sheryl's strict posting rules, you'll do okay. There are "tricks" to bidding, but it may be worthwhile to learn the tricks. Sometimes you can get an even lower rate by taking advantage of credit card deals; if such offers are in effect, you'll find them discussed on Sheryl's board.

I think the big secret is just studying the board to know what prices Priceline users are getting for similar hotels, educating oneself about the intricacies of bidding, knowing before you start what the regular rates are for hotels in the area, and doing research about the areas you plan to visit.

The danger is getting a hotel far from the area you wanted to be, overbidding on a hotel, and because you have a limited number of bidding opportunities, not planning your bidding efforts.

I hope Priceline stays in business for a long time. I'm already spoiled.

Lorilyn Bailey operates http://www.guestfinder.com, a resource helping talk show producers find guests.


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