The Priceline ‘Bidding Tutorial’ for Baseball Road Trips

Saturday March 17, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)-I am constantly grateful for living in an era that you can negotiate prices for almost anything.  Such as everything we do in life, you become better at something the more  you practice at it.

I use Priceline for most of my lodging on baseball road trips.  The only circumstances I would not use Priceline is if I am only going to be staying in a room for five hours or less.   For Cars, I usually have 20 free car rentals a year but that is only since I rent cars for 365 days a year.  People owning their own cars are better off bidding on Priceline. So here is the process that I came up with that tends to have the greatest results.

First I find out what the prices for the hotels in the area are going to be without using the “Name Your Own Price” Bid.  From all of the cities I am staying at, hotel rates will fluctuate from one to the next, however there becomes a price floor and a price ceiling for the type of star hotel you want to stay at.  I like to stay as close I can to the baseball park.  It gives me the sense of being close to the action.  As a writer, I also dissect every aspect of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Back to the task at hand.  Once you have established your budget and have investigated the average price for you star hotels, begin the process of trying to win a bid on your city.

As a rule of thumb with Priceline, it says you can save up to 60% off of the normal price of a hotel room.  Based on this information I am going to cut another 7%.  My first bid will be at a 67% discount on the star hotel’s best price I saw in the normal reservations window.  If you choose a 3 star hotel and the prices are usually set around $100, offer them $33 plus taxes.  You are able to start off with one area.  So now you are bidding and click the purchase the night option,  if you win your bid your credit card is charged right away and you are a  happy camper.  Most of the time they do not accept a bid this low.  Be patient.  You can add up to 3 different zones to your list of places to stay before you are done bidding for the day.  You may get to know what William Shatner looks like a lot more than you wish when the negotiations are taking place.

If you can’t get your price on day one, Priceline makes you wait 24 hours before bidding again.  This is why I urge everyone to start this process weeks before they are slated to leave for vacation.   The more days you have to bargain, the better deal you are going to receive.  Don’t bid hastily as a sign of impatience.  The next day you should write down you bids from the previous day before you start.  Start adding $2-3 for each star on the night.  Keep the same process every time you add a region.  Don’t be discouraged by Priceline putting in their little  disclaimer, “Based on recent data, you have almost no chance of winning this bid,”  I have had several bids be accepted at miniscule prices.

Even if it takes you a week to get the price point, isn’t it worth it?  If you keep adding $2-3 it will end up being $14-21 by the end of the week.  At some price the dollars will make sense for a hotel and you will hit on your bid.  In some cases, you are may come to a point where Priceline will say, “There is a hotel that will guarantee a room for you right now if you add an extra $3 a night to your bid right now.  This is the ultimate goal.  When you finally win your bid, Priceline may offer you the same rate for additional days to your itinerary already.  Another great thing about winning bids with Priceline is that hotels rarely take deposits on your credit card from bid winners.  Make sure you keep in mind that Priceline rules state that these hotels are based on 2 guests only.  If you have 3 or 4 people you are better off bidding with hotwire.com as they have an option to include 4 guests.

For car rentals, the process becomes a little trickier, although all of the car rentals are usually from the same transportation centers in the airports which is nice piece of mind (the hotel can move around in a few mile range).  I would still do your homework to see what the average car prices are for the day in your cities travel dates.  Just a note here, National/Alamo often wins the bids for the car rentals.  The reason is simple, the major discount car rental companies are not part of the bidding process.  You are left with the big car rental places that will probably have their logo out on billboards for the transportation centers.  Again, you can never go wrong with National/Alamo.

Keep the same strategy here, Priceline does say you will only receive about 40% off the bids of normal prices.  This is still a significant savings.  Bid 50% off to start and if you don’t win, simply keep adding a $1 or $2 for ever class of car you go up.  It starts at economy, then goes to: compact, midsize, intermediate, full size, Mini-SUV and so forth.  Come back after your 24 hours and start the incremental bidding.  Being frustrated will only make you bid more money than you have to.  What I like to do in all of these circumstances is to have a car rental already reserved for the best rate you find in  the normal reservations end.  The car rental business has rapid changes daily that alter prices up and down.  The more you check up on the rates, the more you may find better deals.

In the end, you will always save money by using the basic principle set out here.  You work hard for your money, don’t be afraid to keep some of it on vacation.   On a funny note, that reminds me of a saying my father would tell me on vacation, “if you can’t afford to be on vacation, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”  He also says, “they print money everyday in Washington and Ottawa,”  meaning when the money has been spent at least enjoy yourself because you can earn some more of it when you go home.


*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Chuck’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” please click here ***

 

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on March 17, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is useful for business and personal travel…going to save my company and family some money this year!

  2. Some great advice Chuck. I’ve always used Hotwire and usually done very well, but this is always worth a try.

  3. Hi Kurt,

    I did add that disclaimer at the end about Hotwire. When traveling with more than 2 people, Hotwire is a better option.. 1-2 PPL Priceline is the better option.

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