What if you don't want to face the uncertainty of bidding for a hotel room, but you still want a deal? Priceline just introduced a new booking option: Express Deals, for travelers who think bidding is a hassle.
Priceline's new tool offers rates at up to 45% off published rates. Priceline.com
There are now three ways to book hotel rooms on Priceline.com: pay the full retail price for a specific hotel; place a bid using the Name Your Own Price "opaque" service for savings up to 60%, and you'll find out the hotel name after your bid is accepted; and Express Deals, an opaque feature with a twist, where the discount is said to be up to 45% off published rates.
Priceline's Express Deals borrows a page from the playbook of Hotwire, a longtime rival that pioneered this type of semi-opaque booking.
With Priceline's Express Deals, Hotwire's Hot Rates, Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels and Expedia Unpublished Rates Hotels, consumers see a discounted rate and star rating for a hotel in a specific section of a city. They can book the unidentified hotel at that price and they'll learn the name of the property after they've prepaid for the room.
If you search for a hotel on Priceline in Miami for July 11 and then click on the orange Express Deals tab, for instance, you'll see among the options a four-star hotel in the Miami downtown area for $93. When you tack on the taxes and fees, the total rate would be $113.
Before booking the hotel, you still don't know the name of the property. But you can view on a Bing map the section of Miami where it's located, and see that it is rated eight out of 10 by Priceline guests who have stayed there. Express Deals also notes that the hotel has a pool and a business center.
You find out the name of the hotel after you book the room, and your credit card is charged immediately. The booking is non-refundable. You can't change or cancel your stay.