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Priceline® is a company that allows users to bid on hotels, airline tickets, rental cars, vacation packages, and cruises via their web site. Priceline®'s tagline is "Name Your Own Price®," and users name the price they are willing to pay on unused travel deals in the interest of getting the best rates. Flexibility is required when using the service for travel planning, but it can be a great way to save money.
In most instances, the website works in a fairly straightforward manner. First, select the service you are looking for. You will then enter arrival and departure locations, if applicable, travel dates, the area in which you wish to stay, the number of rooms you need, and any other desired parameters. The website will also ask you if your travel plans are flexible. If they are, it is more likely that you will get a cheaper rate, because there will be a greater number of options available.
For hotels, Priceline® offers "zones." Instead of choosing a specific hotel, you choose a "zone" in which your hotel can be located. It is important to pay attention to the zones in relation to where you want to stay; some cover a fairly large area, which could significantly increase your daily travel time if you need to drive back and forth. In addition to choosing a zone, you will also need to choose a star quality level from one to four, or economy to resort level. Each of these selections offers users options to save extra money; a two-star quality hotel will, naturally, sell for less than a four-star resort hotel. For each of Priceline®'s categories, there are questions of this nature.
After you have answered the questions, it is time to name your price. This is essentially a bid for as-yet-unpurchased items, which the hotel, airline, car rental company, etc., is free to reject. Starting out with a low bid is a good idea; you can always increase your bid if it is rejected. Bear in mind, however, that if the bid is accepted, your credit card is immediately charged, and Priceline® will not, under almost any circumstances, cancel the reservation. Only after the price has been accepted, will you find out specific details pertaining to your reservation such as your airline and flight times, hotel name, and location.
There are some drawbacks to using Priceline®. Frequently, users looking to book flights find themselves scheduled on red-eye flights with numerous layovers. Another complaint often voiced is the distances of many hotels in the various zones from tourist attractions, though this is an issue that can easily be prevented with some research ahead of time. However, if you are relatively flexible in your travel planning, it is possible to save 50 percent or more on travel.