Here at Behind the Thrills, we love us some Theme Parks. No doubt about it. However, there is a great big world out there, and sometimes we need to take a step out of the parks and look at something else. Join us as we take a look outside of the world of theme parks and into the world of movies, music, television, hotels…pretty much anything else we happen to stumble across.
However whatever we look at will have some relation to the theme park world, granted not directly…but in a round about sort of way.
So join us now as we lift up the harnesses, throw out our cup of Butterbeer and take a walk…Offsite.
This weeks adventure: Priceline Name your own Price
Priceline is a travel website that gives you steep discounts in travel including hotel, airfare, car rentals and more. This week we are going to focus on the hotel aspect of Priceline.com, specifically the “Name your own price” more commonly known as “The Negotiator”.
Relates to theme parks…how?
Everyone likes to go on vacation. Priceline advertises that you can stay at a hotel near your favorite theme park. The less you spend on where you stay on your vacation to your favorite park, the more you’ll have to spend on things like T-shirts, and princess make overs.
How Does it Work?
This option really isn’t for everybody. You choose an area, choose your dates, choose the star level of the hotel you want to stay at and make a bid.
The upside? You can get a really nice hotel for more than half off the nightly rate.
Example-In Feb. 2010 I chose a resort level hotel in the Disney Maingate area of Orlando for my honeymoon. What I got was the Gaylord Palms Resort for $70 dollars a night. That night the room was going for $179, and it was exquisite, elegant and awe inspiring.
The downside? You have no idea what hotel you’re getting until your bid is accepted.
Example-October of 2010 I chose a 3 star hotel in the International Drive area in Orlando. What I got was the International Palms Resort at $45 dollars a night. That night the room was going for $50 dollars a night, smelled bad, looked awful and gave us a feeling of uneasiness.
It can be a crap shoot. If you go into it blindly, you never know what you’re going to get.
What’s the trick?
If you want a great room, and want to pay very little money for it, you have to go into it prepared.
- Do your research-There are several sites out there that will not only give you bidding tips, but give you the most recent winning bids. One such site is Bidding For Travel.
- Plan ahead-Make sure that if you’re going to bid in an area away from your destination, you know the neighborhood, you know your way around and you have a way to get around. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people have to pay huge amounts for taxi’s and tolls because they had no idea the hotel was 30 miles from Disney.
- Be Flexible-Just because you want to stay IN Disney or Universal, doesn’t mean that you will every single time. The key to getting a good room is to being able to be flexible. Don’t be nailed to one certain area or star level. The more areas and star levels you choose, the better off you’ll be.
Seriously…what’s the trick? SHOW ME HOW!
Okay, so it breaks down like this. You have several different room levels on the Priceline scale. You also have minimum bids that will be accepted for this room level. They break down like this
Keep in mind that these are not prices that you will get the hotel levels for, this is just the minimum amounts that you can bid and get the rooms.
If you get denied for your star level of hotel, you can try again by changing your details. Either you can change the star level, or the area.
Example-I use this chart to go by for my Orlando area hotels, click here.
Let’s say I want a Resort at the Disney Maingate area, but I bid too low. Priceline doesn’t allow you to just bid again. If you want another chance at bidding, you’ll have to change your choices. It can be as simple as changing star levels, or the area. So I look at that chart.
I really want a resort. I’ll pick another area that has no resorts listed. I keep my other area as well, the Disney Maingate. I up my bid just a little bit, and success! It takes some playing around with, but I have used that method to get Gaylord Palms for $70 dollars a night Valentines Day weekend, Gaylord Palms for $50 dollars December 23rd, and Omni at Championsgate in August for $60 dollars. Great rooms are out there for dirt cheap.
What else do I need to know?
Just as you would if you check in to these hotels on your own without Priceline, you have to pay taxes and fees. Priceline fees can be as much as ten dollars depending on the area and where you bid. On top of that, some resorts and hotels charge other fees. I know that Omni, Gaylord and Doubletree all charge parking fees. Some of them take out a deposit against your credit card. Example-Doubletree takes out $50 dollars a night against your credit card, so that’s a two night with a $100 dollar fee. Don’t worry, you get it back, after they take out for things such as parking and charges you make to your room. Gaylord and Omni, as well as all the Universal and Disney hotels charge you a resort fee. Usually that’s about $12-$30 dollars depending on the hotel. When we stayed at the Grand Cypress in Feb. of this year, we paid a $20 dollar a night resort fee…but that included parking, free bottles of water, use of all resort amenities such as boats, tennis courts and workout rooms. A lot of hotels charge extra for that.
You also have no idea what kind of room you’re getting. It could be two double beds, two queens, a king bed, a suite, a closet next to the elevator. Again, the big problem of Priceline is not knowing what hotel you’re going to get. After you find out, do your research on the hotel to find out exactly what you’re getting, and what to expect. I usually call the hotel IMMEDIATELY after making the reservation to find out all the details. A lot of times you can also make requests of the hotel before you get there, and they won’t charge you for it. Just ask!
We’ve booked dozens of trips using Priceline and end up happy 80% of the time. If you have any questions about it or want to know more, shoot me an email or visit The official Priceline site to book a room!
Use these tips and hopefully you can make your vacation a little more enjoyable, and affordable.
Next week I’ll tell you why the rum’s gone!