We spent some time reviewing the range of “Mysterious Hotel” lastminute.com and new mysterious offers from wotif.com. In some cases, the description of the “mysterious” hotels “LastMinute” makes it easy to identify a real hotel. Mysterious Wotif hotels are a little harder to figure out, but there are some clues, for example, they can sell “Comfort” and “Grand Comfort” rooms in a mysterious hotel, so you just browse the list of other Wotif hotels in the same city and see which hotel uses this description for their numbers. The American company Priceline was the creator of a mysterious hotel deal, and we always had serious doubts about their use.
The main objection is that instead of seeing the discounted price (20% off the regular agent price – this is normal for both LastMinute and Wotif) at a particular hotel, Priceline does not give you hints about the actual hotel and you must set the price you are willing to pay. Priceline really helps a bit – it divides cities into districts and shows the usual retail price of hotels of different star categories and offers a probable discount that you should apply at the auction. However, there is a huge danger that as a result you will pay more than you need to. Priceline may have set a secret minimum bid of $ 80 per night, but if someone offers $ 95, the company will gladly accept the bid. Also, in recent years the business has been very good for the hotel industry and we suspect that Priceline was selling rooms in some hotels which would otherwise have difficulty attracting guests. In other words, you could end up paying for the chances of a bad hotel.
However, now the game has changed a bit. Quite a few hotels have empty rooms and are willing to sell them at low prices through Priceline on condition of anonymity to avoid ruining their usual rankings. And we’ve found a pretty handy guide that should help you avoid some pitfalls.
One of the community forums for Priceline users (and HotWire, a division of Expedia that is designed more for American customers) is http://www.betterbidding.com. The first page is a bit messy, but all you need to do is scroll down to find a forum dedicated to the area you want to visit. Select Boston, and the first message will be a list of hotels that forum members have purchased through Priceline. There is no guarantee that this list is completely accurate – hotels will come and go depending on the season and accommodation, but at least you can imagine which hotel you will get in each star category. You then view the most recent messages where participants list the trades they have actually received from Priceline. You can see that two days ago someone was able to offer $ 80 for a room at Omni Parker, and the $ 85 bid got a room at the Hyatt Regency a week earlier. You need to carefully note when the booking was (on weekdays or weekends), and how far in advance the booking was made, as this will definitely affect the price.
This site works best with American Priceline hotels. Shipments for international bookings are much rarer. If you want to stay in Venice in May, it’s of little use to know that in February someone was able to put up $ 90 for a room at the Hilton Molino.
All prices on Priceline are to terrible “taxes and fees” that can add to the total amount a significant amount and clearly include a generous service fee. We couldn’t understand how they came up with a fee of £ 28 at a base price of £ 92. At least you see that figure before you apply.
Once you are ready to go ahead, you must submit your payment details. If the application is accepted, your money is taken immediately and there is no possibility of cancellation or change. If the application is not accepted, the money is not taken and you can repeat it if you change some of the terms of the original application. The best ban offers a way around this. Let’s say you want to stay in a five-star hotel in one area of Paris. Your initial bid has been declined, so you change your bet to include another area of Paris, but in the area you can see in Betterbidding, there is no five-star Priceline hotel. Assuming that Priceline doesn’t suddenly add a new hotel (which is quite real), your increased bet on the hotel you need should be accepted.
Betterbidding also provides the same range of information for HotWire. It’s part of the same group that owns Expedia and Hotels.com, but is designed primarily for American customers, and payment is accepted in dollars, which effectively increases the cost for customers in the UK.
The HotWire system is similar to Priceline with a remote betting aspect. You know in advance the rating of the stars, the area of the city and the total cost (plus taxes and fees). A brief overview of Betterbidding should give you an idea of what hotels it sells in different categories and cities. The site is not as strong in hotels outside of North America as Priceline.
On both of these sites, we recommend that you try to check the price check in direct hotels and hotels of a similar category. Neither Booking.com nor Expedia / Hotels.com (the companies behind these mysterious sites) are noted for selling hotels cheaply. In some cases, a 20% discount on their rates will only equate to a 10% discount available elsewhere. If you think you’ll be able to get a room at Luxor in Las Vegas for $ 65, you might be better off picking up assumptions and booking money at a hotel for $ 72.
We certainly can’t recommend Priceline and the Betterbidding site to everyone. This can be very time consuming and dangerous. There is a huge potential for mistakes: you can easily pay a lot of money for a hotel you don’t want. Another significant danger is that you may get addicted to the whole game and concentrate too much on trying to “win” rather than finding a hotel that suits you! However, there are some real deals around, especially in the US, where Priceline is stronger, and there is a lot of information about Betterbidding. If you’re looking for a couple of nights at a hotel in New York and you have the time and patience, you can just get a good deal.
Will I get the worst hotel room if I book a mysterious deal at a special price?
It is likely that several hotels will take advantage of these mysterious deals to sell a few less desirable rooms, which they do not normally sell if the hotel is not filled. Most hotels will provide you with a standard room, but as is usually the case for rooms that book at special rates through agents, this is probably the lowest category room. The best rooms can be located on the upper floors, have more modern furniture or look better, and most likely they will be assigned to customers who have booked directly at the hotel.
If you have booked a standard room through an agent (whether Priceline or not), there is no reason why you cannot update your room upon arrival. Many hotels are happy to increase the number of clients of the agency to rooms at the highest level (perhaps for an additional 30 pounds per night) or provide them with a larger room or room with a better view. Hotels are looking for extra income at every opportunity, and if someone offers them money and they have a better room, they are unlikely to refuse them. Interestingly, this method can often lead to a free upgrade! The receiver may find the task of taking an extra fee in a computer system too complicated and just allocate the best room for free. Offering to pay for an upgrade may be a better way to get a free upgrade than just a request.