Rick Ingersoll explains the process of succeeding with Priceline’s discount travel options.
March 24, 2011 (Hilton Head, SC) — Rick Ingersoll, better known to frequent travelers and travel hackers as “The Frugal Travel Guy” for his popular blog by the same name, is on a mission to teach others how to do the things he does so that they, too, can travel anywhere they want for free or nearly free. He teaches them how to accrue frequent flier miles through rewards programs and travel vouchers through such methods as “the bump” (intentionally getting “bumped” from your flight).
He sat down recently to share how he makes the most of Priceline.com, the website that helps users obtain discount rates for travel-related services including airline tickets, hotels and rental cars. Priceline is not a direct supplier of these services. Instead, it facilitates its suppliers’ services to Priceline customers.
“Priceline offers two basic services,” Ingersoll explained: “One is fixed-price travel service just like any other travel agency. The other is the ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature.”
According to Ingersoll, Priceline’s fixed-price service offers nothing special in terms of pricing, unless Priceline happens to posts a mistake rate that users can jump on if they act quickly. But that’s rare. However, the “Name Your Own Price” feature “can save you up to 60 percent on travel expenses if you know how to use it,” he said.
To make the most of Priceline, Ingersoll said you have to start by becoming familiar with four other sites: BiddingForTravel.com, BetterBidding.com, TravelBuddy.com, and TripAdvisor.com.
“BiddingForTravel, TravelBuddy, and BetterBidding are sites that list successful previous Priceline bids for airfares, hotels and car rentals around the world,” he said. “Along with TripAdvisor, they also list reviews for the hotels in any given city, and by region, and by star rating, Five Star is the best, One Star is really bad. I bid for Four Star and Three Star hotels and, if the reviews are OK, Two and a Half Star hotels in a region where I want to stay.”
To go through the steps, he used a trip he took to visit his son a few years ago, who lived in Boston at the time.
“First, I went to Priceline.com and the Name Your Own Price hotels and found the various regions listed for the Boston market as well as the top hotel ratings in that zone.
“Then I opened another window and headed to BiddingForTravel.com,” he continued. “On that site, I went to ‘hotels,’ then ‘Mass,’ then ‘Boston’ I checked previous accepted prices in the various regions of Boston, got reviews of the hotels on TripAdvisor, then decided what star level I was comfortable with.
“For me the Downtown, Copley, and the Back Bay regions were too expensive,” he said. “The airport region was best for me and within my frugal budget, especially since it came with shuttle service to the subway stop (“T”) to go downtown and then back to the hotel. On other trips to Boston, I’ve typically won the Hyatt Harborside Hotel at Boston Logan Airport for $42 per night. It’s a beautiful hotel that costs $129 a night on a typical weekend. And I always ask for a waterside room.”
The key to being successful at BiddingForTravel, he stressed, is to read carefully the section on bidding and rebidding.
“Suppose you want ‘Zone Airport’ and a Four-Star hotel. From previous bidders, you see that $42 has been won in the past, so your first bid should be: Zone Airport, 4 stars, $35. If you don’t win that one, then add another zone that only has lower star levels available, and this time bid $37. If there are five zones without a hotel over three stars, you get five free rebids until you get the best price.”
According to Ingersoll, rebidding allows you to start low and move your price higher without changing your parameters. But again, he cautions, “Read these sections of BiddingForTravel before going to Priceline.com where you will actually place your bids. You should even practice this technique with several imaginary cities without hitting the ‘Buy My Hotel’ button. Once you’ve booked on Priceline, there are no refunds.”
Ingersoll has stayed in Priceline rooms in over 30 U.S. cities, as well as in London, Dublin, Paris and Rome “and I’ve never been disappointed,” he said. “The key is to do your research on BiddingForTravel or BetterBidding first, then double-check the reviews at TripAdvisor.com.
“It’s also important to remember to bid one star level higher in Europe for accurate comparisons to U.S. hotels,” he added. “One bad hotel in a given zone and at a given star rating should force you to bid at a higher level or different zone for that city.”
Ingersol has also discovered a new blog, TheBiddingTraveler (www.biddingtraveler.com), that provides Priceline bidding help tools. He recommends checking it out.
Bottomline: By using these five main sites in conjunction – Priceline, TripAdvisor, BiddingForTravel, BetterBidding and TravelBuddy – Ingersoll insists that you can save 50 percent on your travel expenses for the rest of your travel life.
About The Frugal Travel Guy:
Rick Ingersoll is the author of The Frugal Travel Guy Blog, which is read around the world and averages 5000 views per day, and The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook. He is constantly on the lookout for the best credit card and debit card sign-up bonuses. He posts travel tips daily on debit and credit card deals and on other interesting promotions with the goal of reducing his readers’ travel costs today and for the rest of their lives. He is also available for seminars and speaking engagements. A retired mortgage banker, Ingersoll and his wife live in Hilton Head Island, SC, and Traverse City, MI, when they’re not traveling the globe. For more information, visit http://frugaltravelguy.blogspot.com.