(Rome Sheraton – Pictured – Express Deals $79/Night – Normal Pricing $149/Night)
Some don’t want to fuss around with “Name Your Own Price” on Priceline, to get the absolutely rock-bottom hotel room wholesale price. Have I got a deal for you, use Express Deals. You will not get the absolutely lowest cost, but you can save quite a lot from traditional hotel discount pricing.
The Priceline Express Deals page is very easy to use and is similar to buying a hotel room off of any of the On-Line Travel Agencies (OTA) (also known as Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, or similar). If you are like me, though, I want to know the hotel I am getting before buying. Just like Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price“, this is an opaque pricing model, meaning, you don’t get to know exactly what you get before buying, but you can specify the star level, neighborhood, amenities, and see satisfaction level. But still, I really like to know what I am buying. The good news is that Priceline gives you enough hints to know the exact hotel or at least the few hotels you may be buying.
How does Express Deals Work?
In Priceline, search your location and dates, as you would any travel booking engine. Once you get to the huge list of hotels, you can narrow by selecting neighborhood, and star level. Then select “Express Deals“. You’ll be able to see discount prices, lowner than Priceline’s normal “List View” discount prices. So, here we see a good little deal in Lisle, Illinois. This doesn’t tell you are buying the “Sheraton” in Lisle, directly, but the hints are there. So you might as well figure it out, and know exactly where you’ll be staying, and feel the confidence of knowing before you buy.
Get the Hint?
Looking at this express deal, there are some really obvious hints. First, beyond seeing it is for Lisle,Il and a 3.5*, it gives you the amenities. This one is unique as it has pets allowed (pet paw icon). Also, you’ll see it has a 7/10 (which one should interpret as 7.0 – 7.9 possible satisfaction rating). Finally, the most obvious hint is the “was” price, which shows $134. This one is very easy, then. Go back to the listings page, select pets allowed, 3*, Lisle, and see what comes up.
Use Express Deals’ Hints To Identify Hotel
Here, I selected 3*, Lisle, pets allowed, and surprise, the $134/Night Sheraton showed up. Note the rating is 7.9 (also known as 7+). So is $75 good for a nice Sheraton? I’d buy this in a heartbeat.
You are probably scratching your head. Who would pay $134 a night for this Sheraton, although, just one click away is the “Express Deals” section offering the same exact hotel room for $75/Night. Well the answer is potentially YOU! You see the 16% OFF of the regular $159/Night fully discounted price already a pretty good savings. But at $75/Night, this is actually a 53% off deal waiting for you.
Why Do Hotels Do This?
Hotels, like any business, want to maximize profits. The higher the price paid for the same exact room, the more profitable the sale. At the same time, hotels are rarely, if ever, 100% booked. That means they have idle inventory. It is like a car manufacturer having capacity to assemble 500,000 cars per year, but due to low sales, they only assemble 200,000, leaving lot of potential profit unearned. In the hotel industry, firms like Priceline give hotels a way to sell idle rooms, at a greater discount, but still at a profit. Given the room is already cleaned and ready to go, they might as well sell it at a small profit rather than zero profit. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. Priceline has one of the largest, if not the largest partner hotel inventories in the industry and really the ONLY reliable way of clearing unsold rooms through “Name Your Own Price” and now “Express Deals”.
At the same time, the hotel doesn’t want customers who are more than willing to pay $134/Night for a hotel room to automatically get a 53% savings and buy the same room for a $75/Night instead. So knowledge is power. Who would guess that with just a 1-2 minutes effort, you can land another $59 of savings (a nice meal out basically)!
So Priceline perfected the opaque pricing model, where the buying public doesn’t have exact knowledge of the hotel being selected, to help hotels clear idle inventory (rooms). Not knowing exactly what a consumer is buying is a huge psychological barrier for some. They want certainty. For those of us who can tolerate a low amount of risk (Come on! A 3* in Lisle, at $75 and 7+ satisfaction, it is almost a no brainer already. Who cares which hotel?), you’ll be rewarded. We understand hotel rooms are a commodity good/service, that you can pay as much as you want or try to pay as little as possible. You’ll get the same exact room. No, they do not mark on you restaurant bill “Priceline customer- please serve them the stuff accidentally dropped on the ground”. You get all the same quality and service.
Is This Lower Than All Other Sites? Yes!!!!
Except for Priceline “Name Your Own Price”, which will shave another $10 or so from the price, this is without exception, the lowest price you will get. Here is the proof this. Go to an aggregator site, like Trivago, which shows comparisons to all current pricing, and find the same hotel and dates.
So according to Trivago, the best pricing available is Expedia $148, but also note $148 for Hotwire (supposedly a competitor to Priceline). Long and short, this is the lowest price on the OTAs (Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, is $148). So, last time I checked $75/Night is less than $148.
But wait! How about the Sheraton’s site that guarantees the lowest price. See, you can clearly see the “Sheraton Lisle Hotel – Our Best Rates Guaranteed”, so surely they’ll have the best rate.
Well, clicking through, for the same dates and location, Sheraton comes up $134. Again, last time I checked $75 is still less than $134. So, if you want, as we are friends, I’ll sell the room to you for $100, just drop me a line. Or…You could spend a minute and click “Express Deals”, and get it for $75. I’d go for the $75/Night.
Are They All This Easy?
No, sometimes you can only narrow down to 1-2 hotels, which is good enough for most. Try the exercise. I admit, I am pretty bad at Sudoku and crossword puzzles, but was able to figure this out. I know you can too.
Let me know if you try this out at some time. When I traveled Europe, I decided on using this method instead of the “Name Your Own Price (NYOP).” The reason being that the NYOP included a lot of niche/boutique hotels with small lobbies and where I could only narrow it down to 2-3 hotels. Also, one of the hotels would not have something I really needed as an amenity, such as a pool or free parking. Express Deals worked beautifully, as I got great hotels like the Rome Sheraton, normally $169/Night for $79, and the Novotel Paris Centre Tour Eiffel, and if memory serves me, it was $240/Night which we regularly picked up for about $110, just a short stroll from the Eiffel Tower.