Priceline and Hotwire gain new discount competitor
Flexible vacationers willing to book a hotel sight unseen now have a new option.
Travelocity has recently joined the so-called opaque travel market dominated by Priceline and Hotwire where you commit to a price or place a nonrefundable bid before knowing which hotel you’re actually going to end up with.
Travelocity calls it Top Secret Hotels, and says it offers up to 45 per cent off hotels looking to fill unsold inventory that it categorizes as three- and four-stars.
Only after you have put in your credit card number do you actually see which hotel you’ve booked. The money isn’t refundable.
The trade-off with all of these services is that your hotel's location will be something of a surprise. And you have to take your chances on some details. While you can usually figure out whether or not you’ll be right on the beach, you may have to gamble on other information, such as if pets are welcome.
But in most big cities, the chances are fairly good that you’ll end up with adequate accommodation.
Of course, you can easily find out the fixed price on Hotwire or this latest option, and then bid a bit lower on Priceline. If your bid is accepted, you may end up with a lower price for a similar quality hotel or perhaps even the same hotel in major centres.
Do you use opaque discounters? What’s your travel experience been like? Can you do better on your own?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: Kate Lougheed | Mar 24, 2021 8:16:35 AM
We have been travelling in the U.S. over the winter and my experience is still that you can do better on your own. We used Hotwire for a hotel in Galveston, supposedly a 3 star....and, we paid $20.00 more for it than if we'd walked in off the street. And, it was not a 3 star!!! I think the coupon books are a much better way to go. You get these at the Welcome centres of each state....and, provided you stop early enough, you do get better deals. I have used Priceline in Canada....and, I thought we did very well. But, I have been disappointed with both Travelocity and Hotwire.
Posted by: C | Mar 24, 2021 9:47:34 AM
It makes no sense to use these 'services'. If I want to gamble, I'll go to Vegas. A business model that asks you to pay for something before you know what it is, sounds too much like the carnavel where they ask you to pay to see the 'bearded lady' or 'proof of alien life'. It is rare that you are satisfied with the experience you pay for. Very rarely would you pay to have the experience more than once.
I don't see this business model lasting long.
Posted by: Bonaventure | Mar 24, 2021 2:57:54 PM
I have to agree with C. We know that Price is not the only reason why consumers will deal with a company. Over the long run most consumers will pay more to know where they are staying before paying a nonrefundable payment. That's why we deal with large stores that have a return policy.
Pay a bit more but know exactly what you are getting before putting your money down.
On the other hand there will be consumers that just want the lowest PRICE, and for them these companies provide a worthwhile service.
Posted by: sparky | Mar 27, 2021 8:24:50 AM
Have used these services a couple of times, it appears you get a great deal but they fail to tell you in the total whether there is paid parking which can add quite a bit and you can ofter do better on your own going to a hotel that does not charge parking fees.
Posted by: Ron | Jul 20, 2021 1:16:58 AM
What blows me away with these "deals" from discount agencies is the exorbint Taxes - sometimes more than twice the price of the holiday. There is no way these are legitimet taxes but merely another way of increasing the price.
Posted by: John | Apr 17, 2021 9:21:45 AM
Great. Hotwire is not what it used to be. I've used hotwire estimating 50-100 nights. I just used them for a booking in instanbul. Same hotel is cheaper thru priceline and has cancellation policy. Hotel is also not as described. Perhaps hotwire is still okay for major US ciities but terrible outside... Customer service keeps emailing me about their commitment to value and I have told them to look at the deal I just booked which has no value and I was blind. Bring on the competition, hotwire is not what it was.