Booking a Hotel Using Priceline – Your Bidding Strategy

Saturday 23rd, February 2013 / 04:04 Written by
Booking a Hotel Using Priceline – Your Bidding Strategy

This is an article in a series on booking hotels using Priceline

Related Articles

In the previous article, I commented on how to get the information you need to have a successful booking. In this article, I will show you how to set up a strategy that you can implement when booking your hotel.

The Skinny

  • If you have multiple zones that are acceptable, set the one that has the cheapest hotels as the “base” zone so it is always included in bids
  • Before bidding set up a strategy of bid price, star level and zones / neighbourhoods using the information from the previous article
  • When strategizing, if you have many free re-bid zones, it is better to just add new zones instead of starting all over again, to save time


The key pieces of information that are required before a Priceline bidding strategy can be made are:

  • Establishing the target zones that have the hotels you want
  • Figure out if there are any free re-bid zones
  • Find the minimum going rate form other sources for your potential hotels

Results (from previous article)

  • Target Star Level
    • 4 Star only
  • Target zones
    • Zone 13 – South Beach – Central  (M )
    • Zone 14 – South Beach – Collins Avenue Oceanfront  (N)
    • Zone 15 – South Beach – Ocean Drive (O)
  • Free re-bid zones at 4 Star
    • Zone 1 – Aventura (A)
    • Zone 2 – Bay Harbor Islands – North Bay Village (B)
    • Zone 4 – Dadeland (D)
    • Zone 9 – Miami Lakes – Hialeah (I)
    • Zone 10 – Miami West (J)
    • Zone 11 – North Miami (K)
    • Zone 16 – Southwest Miami (P)

Setting Up a Bidding Strategy

From the above 3 steps, we have established that the hotels we are likely to get are acceptable, what our maximum bid should be, and what the re-bid zones are. Based on this, we can set up a strategy.

Base Zone

When setting up a strategy, I like to look at where I am likely to get accepted, based on the lowest price from Priceline’s Express deals. In this case, it looks like Priceline Express View is favoring Central zone, so we will use that as the “base” zone. Since this zone contains what I suspect is the chepaest acceptable hotel for a 4 Star bid, I want to make sure that this zone is in every bid that I make.

Based on how many bids I want to bid with (combined with the limitation of how many free re-bids I get), I can establish a strategy. In this case, I understand that each bid takes about 5 minutes of my time, and I have lots of free re-bids (at least 64 for the 4 Star).

I have established the maximum price I would be willing to bid on each Star Level ($118 for 4 Star), and I knock down about 35% to set my starting bid ($76). I then increase that by a few dollars ($4 each bid) and outline which zones will be bid and at what rate.

Maximum Price Starting Bid # of Bids Increase per Bid
4 Star $118 $76 128 $4
3.5 Star $118 $76 64 $4
3 Star $66 $45 2 $7

In this case, I have already established that I want to only target the 4 Star hotel and thus I will not go after the 3 Star hotels.


For the purposes of this exercise, my acceptable area includes 3 zones. I do know what zone contains the cheapest hotel and will use that as my base zone. If I needed more free re-bids, I could treat the other 2 zones as free re-bid zones. Since I have lots of free re-bids at the 4 Star level, I will just bid zones M, N & O as my “base” zone.

Note: If I were bidding on a 3 Star, I would want the extra bids.

As a refresher:

Southwest Miami Star Level

  • Target zone(s): M, N, O
  • Free re-bid zones: A, B, D, I, J, K, P
Pointster’s pointers: Adding a zone to a bid saves time, so if I am not using all my free re-bids, I would rather add a zone (add B to a rejected OA bid) to save a few minutes rather than restarting the process.
Bid Number Star Level Add Zone? Zones Included Bid
1 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) $76
2 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (A) $80
4 Star Restart Process (MNO) & (B) $84
4 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (AB) $88
5 4 Star Restart Process (MNO) & (D) $92
6 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (AD) $96
7 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (ABD) $100
8 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (ABDI) $104
9 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (ABDIJ) $108
10 4 Star Add Zone (MNO) & (ABDIJK) $112

In this situation, if the bid of $112 gets rejected, I would just go and buy my hotel for $118 that was available for a regular purchase.

Steps to Booking

I will walk you through the process of actually bidding through the following screenshots. As I have mentioned before, you can get a small amount of cashback (around 1% – 3%) by using portals to book your Priceline. I like eBates and Top Cash Back for Priceline bookings.

[Disclosure, I receive a small commission if you use my links to eBates, Top Cash Back or Priceline, and I do appreciate if you use my links. You will receive $5 or $10 if you use my links to eBates or Top Cash Back]


  • Go to
  • Search using your city and dates
  • Select “Name Your Own Price”
  • Choose your neighbourhoods / zones & your minimum star level
  • Verify the information and request your room to be bought
  • If your request gets rejected, then either add a zone or start all over again (depending on your strategy)
  • You may get an offer to add a certain amount and re bid
    • Priceline has just informed you that they will accept the bid they are suggesting
    • Use this information to adjust your maximum price (and now do not ever bid higher than that new maximum price)

Final Result

In this situation, Priceline was not able to deliver a hotel for less than the $118 that Hotwire was  offering. As a result, the decision should be to take the 4 Star hotel for $118 from Hotwire.


Once you have established the free re-bid zones, maximum prices and the acceptable zones, you will want to set up a strategy. If there your acceptable area contains multiple zones / neighbourhoods, pick the one that has the cheapest hotels as your “base” zone so it is always included. If you have a lot of free re-bid zones, then just include all of the acceptable zones as a base zone.

Set up your strategy including a schedule of your prices, zones and star level in advance of starting to bid. If you have limited free re-bid zones then you will want to restart the process after each attempt. If you have many free re-bid zones then you can just add zones when a bid gets rejected.

Finally, have fun with this. The first time I bid on Priceline, I got a crazy rush for those 30 seconds, when I wasn’t sure if my bid would be accepted.




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