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April 4, 2005

Priceline for the Timid: Part VI - Bidding Results

There are two possible outcomes; Priceline can either accept or reject your bid.

Acceptance: Congratulations! Be sure to record your winning bid at Better Bidding, Bidding for Travel, or both (there does not seem to be a collegial relationship between the two sites, so proceed with discretion.) Print out your reservation and you’re all ready. I keep a copy with me as part of my traveling papers and I call the hotel the day before to reconfirm the reservation. I don’t make special requests at this call; I have found that asking nicely at check-in often works. There have been rare horror stories of reservations not acknowledged by the hotel; I have never had a problem.

Rejection comes in three flavors:

The standard bid rejection page states that Priceline couldn’t find you a room at a given price and offers you the opportunity to bid again if you change either the zones you’ll accept, the star level of the hotel, or the dates of your stay. You cannot change only your offer price. That's why free-rebid zones are so important.

Rebid offers and Counter offers: These are similar. A rebid offer says “If you raise your bid by $X right now we will allow you to make the same bid again.” A counteroffer is more concrete; “We could not find you a hotel at $X, but if you raise your price to $Y we will let you purchase your hotel room now.”

There are very few times that you cannot beat a counteroffer or a re-bid offer with a free re-bid, especially if you are more than 72 hours from your hotel stay. Priceline wants you to take their counteroffer or rebid offer because they make more money on it, so the link on the page to regular rebidding is not prominent, it’s simply a text link that says something like “if you would like to change the dates of your stay or the star level, click here”. Look for it, it is there.

Say my Washington DC offer for $50 was rejected outright. I rebid by ticking one of the free rebid zones (Alexandria-Mt. Vernon, Alexandria-Pentagon, Arlington, Crystal City and Springfield) and raising our price. We have five free re-bids, right? No, if you’re willing to be patient, you have several more.

You could simply tick a new rebid zone with each new bid, i.e, Georgetown + Alexandria-Mt. Vernon, then Georgetown + Alexandria-Mt. Vernon + Alexandria-Pentagon, etc.

Expanded rebidding involves closing your browser entirely and starting a completely new bidding session after each bid. So you would bid Georgetown + Alexandria-Mt. Vernon, close your browser, start a new session and bid Georgetown + Alexandria-Pentagon, close your browser, start a new session and bid Georgetown + Arlington, etc.

So with target zone “A” and five potential rebid zones B-F you would bid:

That’s 25 rebids and I may have missed some permutations.

So for Georgetown, I could bid up $1 a time from my starting bid of $50 to my maximum bid of $75.

Caution: Closing your browser and starting a new session can take over a minute. By the time you’ve done this about six times, you may be ready to accept any offer out of sheer impatience. You may wish to jump by larger intervals from a real lowball figure and smaller intervals when you think you’re coming close to a target price.

A counterbid offer means there’s inventory to be had; often in striking range. The distance from your bid to the counteroffer is an imperfect clue, but does give you an idea. Here are some recent examples. On a bid in London-Kensington for $75 I got a counter offer of $98 and got the hotel at $85. A Heathrow bid for $50 got a counter offer of $66; I got it at $59. A London-Mayfair bid of $100 got a counter offer of $151. I did not take the offer, but someone with the same dates as mine was successful at $135. Make your strategy based on how much you can – and are willing – to rebid.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at April 4, 2005 6:27 PM

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I have to say this looks like my son's math homework -- they're studying probability.

Posted by: sandi k at April 6, 2005 5:14 PM

Hi, nice tips on PL!

Please see here -- you can get 32 bids for your A-F example.

Posted by: ny1er at May 6, 2005 7:22 AM

Posted by: ny1er at May 6, 2005 7:23 AM

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