Written by Douglas Mefford in Travel
Viewed by 163 readers since 06-23-2009
Bargain hunting has become a way of life as the economy has tightened. People still need to travel and find lodgings when they arrive at their destination. The full price of airfare, hotel rooms, automobile rentals and even full vacation packages are increasingly out of reach for the average budget. The savvy traveler soon finds out that, while full price is nice, almost all airlines and hotels are willing to cut a deal to fill their vacancies. Priceline.com was developed to be the ultimate clearinghouse for bringing bargain hunters together with discounted service providers.
In the ten years it has been online, Priceline.com has grown to be the major access point for traveling for less. Priceline basically works by allowing you to offer the amount you are willing to pay for airline tickets, hotel rooms and other travel related services. They will then check through the listings of providers to see if any of them are willing to accept the price that you offered.
The main reason so many airlines, motels and rental agencies are willing to accept lower prices has to do with vacancies. If the plane or hotel is not full they risk losing all potential revenue for those empty spots. They are willing to take a lower price for these available vacancies in order to maintain a full capacity. While on average you can expect to be able to save as much as 50% over the standard full charge, there are occasions where you can get even greater savings. Priceline.com has a bulletin board on their site where daily discounted offers are posted for the spontaneous traveler to peruse and take advantage of.
Priceline.com offers two basic methods by which you can enter your offer. The first way is to input the information into the easy to use forms on the website. This would include such things as desired location, dates you need the service, hotel ratings, rental information and the price you are willing to pay for your desired service. The second method is more of a bidding method in that you only input the basic service desired and your offer. Priceline will then search to see who may be willing to accept your offer.
There are a few disadvantages to using Priceline.com to book your flight or hotel room. Even though you are able to request specific details about the location or ratings of the hotel you want, there is no guarantee that Priceline will find a savings offer that perfectly matches your request. You may specify a specific flight or airline but it may not be available. You must be ready and willing to take what they do find for you. This would mean possibly a hotel with a lower rating or less convenient location. You should give a range of days for your flight so Priceline.com has a greater window of opportunity to find you a flight to your destination.
You are not in control of these details once you place your request with Priceline.com. The bottom line for them is that they find a flight, hotel or rental car that is available for the price you state. You will not know of just when you depart or where you may have to layover until Priceline.com has reserved the flight for you. You will not know what hotel you will ultimately be staying in or just what type of vehicle has been reserved until the deal is already done.
For those who like to be in control of these factors, Priceline is not for you. Once you make an offer they will find a service that will accept your price. They will reserve it and charge your credit card. They will then email you the details of the deal they found for you. The credit card charge is non-refundable. If you find you do not like their choice you have no recourse to refuse the reservation.