April 12, 2006
When you’ve only got one shot at bidding in London
A friend uses Priceline to bid on London, particularly Kensington, frequently and at the last minute. Here’s a bidding strategy that can give him a few extra bids; if it’s useful to you feel free to try it. Make sure that you have looked at recent wins at Better Bidding or Bidding for Travel to get a sense of the bidding and win trends.
At present there are roughly three tiers for the London bidding zones. I’m not including London Bridge and Bayswater in this consideration because I don’t know enough about them; there isn’t much reported data.
Bloomsbury, Kensington and The City have winning bids in the cheapest range. At any given time any of them could be the lowest; it depends on who is loading the best priced inventory into Priceline. I don’t know Hammersmith and Regents Park as well, but they (especially Regents Park) seem to fall into this approximate range as well. One notch in cost above that is Westminster; a notch above that is Mayfair.
My friend has had no problem getting 4* hotels in Kensington the day before for $75 a night – with taxes and services about $107.
To undercut that bid in any of the lowest priced zones, try the following:
Note: This assumes normal occupancy in London – check first to see if the “usual suspect” hotels in your zone have rooms available at normal prices. If they’re sold out or much more expensive than usual, be prepared to bid higher. This also isn’t going to work with the higher priced zones, especially Mayfair. You really only have one shot in Mayfair – adding in another zone will probably get you a hotel in that zone before Mayfair, because the prices are lower in the other zones. Bid with that in mind.
Bid $65 for a 4* in Kensington (or any of the other zones). If the bid is not accepted but you get a counter offer at under $90, it is the best sign that you are in striking range.
Optional step if getting a hotel in Westminster is not more desirable than Kensington. Close the browser. Start a new bid for a 4* in Westminster at $52. Your odds are infinitesimal that you would actually get a hotel for that price (but there is some risk – my advice is to shut up and be happy if you get a room in Westminster for $52), but what you might get is a counter offer. If it’s lower or close to the one you got for your desired zone, proceed with caution.
Otherwise add in Westminster, raise your bid to $70.
If it’s not accepted, close your browser. If desired, repeat the optional step with Mayfair and close your browser again. Begin a new bid for Kensington and Mayfair at $72 if you’re feeling confident or $75 if you aren’t.
If it doesn’t work, add in Westminster and raise your bid to either $75 or $80. Caution: if you don’t get a hotel on this bid things get more difficult.
If you have to keep going, close your browser and repeat the optional step with any other London zone, one at a time. Hopefully something will come back with a much higher counteroffer than Kensington. If so, use that zone “X”. Bid $82 in Kensington and X, then bid Kensington, X and Westminster. Close the browser, bid Kensington, X and Mayfair. If that doesn’t work, bid Kensington, X, Westminster and Mayfair and let’s hope by this point you have a hotel room!
This strategy can be tweaked to work for other cities, but it works particularly well in zones that regularly offer counteroffers to bids as happens a lot in London. You could start by doing the optional lowball step with every zone in London before starting and use the zones with the highest counteroffers as quasi-free rebids. Just remember that you are taking a calculated risk. Priceline can defy all logic and give you a win in any zone you bid on, so make sure you're bidding in zones it wouldn't be a disaster for you to stay.
Posted by Leigh Witchel at April 12, 2006 4:01 PM
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