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Rapid Travel Chai: Hotwire and Priceline at FTU DCA 2014

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Rapid Travel Chai Hotwire and Priceline at Frequent Traveler University, Washington, D.C., December 2014.

Save money on your travels by learning how to use Priceline & Hotwire. Learn the strategies to know what you will get and how much you will pay before you bid. Explore little-known features as Priceline & Hotwire continuously add new travel options.

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Rapid Travel Chai: Hotwire and Priceline at FTU DCA 2014

  1. 1. Hotwire and Priceline FTU DCA 2014 Stefan Krasowski Rapid Travel Chai
  2. 2. Itinerary Hotwire Priceline I hope you aren’t expecting something else  ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. What is Your Priority? Hotels? Rental cars? Flights? Vacation packages? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  4. 4. My Hotwire and Priceline Experience My travel is 75% international Rented cars weekly for 2 years of NY-Atlanta commute Many hotel bookings Many rental car bookings No air bookings No vacation package bookings ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  5. 5. Why Hotwire and Priceline ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  6. 6. What are Hotwire and Priceline? Tools to potentially save on travel costs by giving up certainty, flexibility, status, and miles and points ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  7. 7. The Hotwire and Priceline Tradeoff Why to Not Use: No changes, no refunds* Unpleasant surprises* No elite status recognition* No miles and points* Why to Use: Save Money *There are always exceptions and luck ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  8. 8. Rental Car Tradeoff Hypothetical When to not save $10: Orlando, FL car rental Spring break Huge lines at counter Eye-rolling spouse Screaming children When to save $10: Moline, IL car rental Always off-peak No lines No spouse No children ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  9. 9. Need to Know ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  10. 10. Why No Deals? Not every market or trip will have opaque offers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  11. 11. Hotel Star Ratings Star ratings are subjective and generous by ½ to 1 star You have limited recourse Stick to 3-star and above ‘3-star’ Monte Carlo Inns Toronto Markham My wife has not forgiven me ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  12. 12. Getting the Room You Want Room type – call hotel after booking if you want a king bed Better room – call hotel with self-deprecating sweet talk Non-smoking room – yep, call ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Photo by Ben Tesch, flickr
  13. 13. The ‘gomike’ slide gomike on FlyerTalk – Priceline, timeshare hacks & more Contact hotel programs to add your number to reservation Charge small incidental spend during stay to your room Hyatt: Status often recognized, including Diamond 1k check-in May get elite stay credit Marriott: Status often recognized, including check-in amenity Others: you may get lucky ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Photo by Isabelle Plante, flickr
  14. 14. Fees Hotwire Hot Rate and Priceline Name Your Own Price™ rates often loaded with fees Do not compare per day rates Do compare total price Portland 1 day car: Expedia vs Priceline $18/day = $23 vs $29.34 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  15. 15. Resort Fees Watch out in frequent offender markets like Las Vegas “This hotel charges a resort fee of about $25.00 per room per night” ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  16. 16. Car Credit Card CDW To use credit card CDW entire rental must be on same card Use same card at Hotwire/Priceline purchase AND pick-up ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  17. 17. Hotwire ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  18. 18. Hotwire Opaque ‘Hot Rate’ no-bid offers + transparent offers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  19. 19. Hotwire – Transparent Offers Similar to other travel sites, let’s skip to opaque Hot Rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  20. 20. Hotwire Hot Rates – Flights New York – Los Angeles example ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Hot Rate
  21. 21. Hotwire Hot Rates – Flights New York – Los Angeles example: 6 am – 10 pm departure window Up to 1 connection Up to 3 hour layover No one-ways or multi-city No airline benefits No credit card free checked bag …all to save $40 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  22. 22. Hotwire Hot Rates – Cars ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  23. 23. Hotwire Hot Rates – Cars Rates often not as good as flexible reservation portals (BJ’s, Costco, Capital One, Chase, etc.) Guaranteed major agency – but includes Dollar/Thrifty No off-airport, no one-way Must be age 25+ Los Angeles weekend Hotwire $57.57 vs Costco $48.12 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  24. 24. Hotwire Hot Rates – Cars Pick-up up to 24 hours late – book Sun night, pick-up Mon (call agency to hold a car on peak times) Atlanta Sun 10 pm pick-up $63.65 vs Mon 8 am $81.26 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  25. 25. Hotwire Hot Rates – Cars Always unlimited miles (important for international) 30-minute grace period on returns Extensions at agency rates – can be very expensive All add-ons billed at agency rates (e.g. Dollar/Thrifty huge toll charges) Welcome to Newark from Dollar/Thrifty – tolls $17.49/day ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  26. 26. Hotwire Hot Rates – Hotels Princeton, NJ example: ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  27. 27. Hotwire Hot Rates – Hotels How to identify the hotel? Amenities & TripAdvisor rating provide clues ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  28. 28. Check the Forums – Better Bidding Doubletree is only reported 3.5 star Amenities match Look for distinctive amenities (if any) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  29. 29. Other Forums As with all forums, there is LOTS of drama ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  30. 30. Check TripAdvisor TripAdvisor lists 7 4-star traveler rating hotels available Only 2 are 3.5-star chain hotels – Doubletree and Marriott Amenities are same so TripAdvisor is inconclusive ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  31. 31. Hotwire Hot Rates – Hotels Best guess is Doubletree, possibly Marriott Either will work, go for it, or try Priceline… ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  32. 32. Hotwire – Vacations/Packages Hotel packages are transparent, choose each component Except Hot Rate flight + car – no extra savings to bundle ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  33. 33. Hotwire – Hotwire Express Invitation only program ≈ $1k annual spend Claims to have better service, case-by-case support Occasional ‘Star Upgrades’ – e.g. pay 3-star hotel, get 4-star ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  34. 34. Hotwire – Low Price Guarantee 48-hour guarantee for identical booking Hotwire refunds the difference ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  35. 35. Hotwire – Cancellation/Refund Air & Hotel: No official exceptions – consider trip insurance Car: Flight delay exception for 24+ hours delay You can always plead your case ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  36. 36. Hotwire – Cashback Discover – 5% on car, hotel and packages (not flights) Chase – 2x Others come and go ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  37. 37. Hotwire Questions? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  38. 38. Priceline ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  39. 39. Priceline – Transparent Offers Similar to other travel sites, let’s skip to Name Your Own Price® ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  40. 40. Priceline Name Your Own Price® – Flights Similar terms to Hotwire: 6 am – 10 pm departure window (US), international anytime Up to 1 connection Up to 3 hour layover (US), international 75% < 3 hours One-ways but no multi-city No airline benefits No credit card free checked bag ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  41. 41. Priceline Name Your Own Price® – Cars ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  42. 42. Priceline Cars - General Rates often 10-30% lower than Hotwire Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National only My experience is most often Avis Rates not always available – change search parameters No off-airport, no one-way Always unlimited miles (important for international) Extensions and add-ons at agency rates Drivers under 25 allowed for additional fees ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  43. 43. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Example: Wilmington, NC Aug 23-25, midsize car Step 1: Get a baseline at Hotwire or others: Hotwire $17.95/day, $57.84 total ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  44. 44. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 2: Book a flexible backup Costco $66.42 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  45. 45. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 3: Priceline Lowball Test Enter a lowball bid and click “Choose” ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  46. 46. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 3 (cont): Lowball triggers “low chance of being accepted” If you don’t get this screen, you are starting too high ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  47. 47. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 3 (cont): “Previous Page” and step up the bids ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  48. 48. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 3 (cont): Priceline Sweetspot when goes to offer page You’re not done yet! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  49. 49. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 4: Bid around Priceline Sweetspot For short, economy rentals, $1-$2 under often works Longer rentals and bigger cars can widen the gap Can be more aggressive depending on lead time Needed car next day so bid $16, final price $54.36 with Hertz ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  50. 50. Priceline Cars – Re-Bidding the Official Way Same trip wait 24 hours to re-bid Can immediately re-bid for different car type (up or down) Compact may be same price as economy Change return date may allow re-bid (e.g. Tue 6 am, then try Mon 11 pm – you get the car for 24-hour days) I generally find 1-2 weeks out is good time to bid ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  51. 51. Priceline Re-Bidding Hack 1. Use browser private window 2. Don’t log in 3. Bid with low balance gift card 4. Repeat in new private browser ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  52. 52. Priceline Re-Bidding Hack If bid is accepted you get a processing error If not accepted, no processing error You can enter correct number or abandon ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  53. 53. Priceline Name Your Own Price® – On Hold Sometimes bids go to pending Go to account to check offer status If not accepted, start to re-bid with new search ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  54. 54. Priceline Name Your Own Price® – Hotels ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  55. 55. Priceline Hotels – Where to Use Use where the zone is targeted and fits your needs Use when you do not need a specific amenity like a pool Use when transport situation works for you Use when companions are easy-going ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  56. 56. Priceline Hotels – Where to be Careful Mumbai is 1 zone – have you ever been in Mumbai traffic? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  57. 57. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy 1. Compare market rates 2. Research Priceline zones 3. Research winning bids on forums 4. Prepare bid strategy – write it down! 5. Go for it ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  58. 58. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Example: Providence, RI 11/1-4 Step 1: Compare market rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  59. 59. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 2: Research Priceline zones I only want Zone 5 – Providence Downtown ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  60. 60. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 3: Research winning bids on forums Not many recent data points ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  61. 61. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 4: Prepare bid strategy – identify available stars by zone Zone 1: 1-3 star Zone 2: 1-3.5 star Zone 3: 1-3 star Zone 4: 2-2.5 star Zone 5: 2-4 star ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  62. 62. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 4: Prepare bid strategy – target 4-star in Zone 5 Bid 1: Zone 5, 4-star Bid 2: Add Zone 1, 4-star Wait, what? Zone 1 has no 4-star Priceline let’s you re-bid Only Zone 5 has 4-star hotels 5 zones = 5 bids for 4-star ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  63. 63. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 4: Prepare bid strategy – what about 3.5 star? Zone 2 has 3.5 star I don’t want Zone 2 So can bid 5, then 1, 3, 4 Increase each bid in increments ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  64. 64. Priceline Hotels – Bidding Strategy Step 5: Go for it For each star add zone one by one For each new star start new search to reset zones Or Ditch Strategy and Do The Re-Bid Hack ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  65. 65. Priceline Hotels – The Bidding Traveler The Bidding Traveler does the work for you ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  66. 66. Priceline – Hotel Express Deals™ Similar to Hotwire Hot Rates Frequent sale offers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  67. 67. Priceline – Last Minute and Weekend Deals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  68. 68. Priceline – Hotel Freebies℠ Fun way to search – from free nights to spa credits ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  69. 69. Priceline – Vacation Packages & Cruises Nothing special, no Name Your Own Price® ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  70. 70. Priceline – Rewards Bonus Cash Public and targeted offers appear from time to time Cash added to bids, e.g. hotel $75 bid + $5 bonus = $80 bid ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  71. 71. Priceline – Low Price Guarantee 24-hour guarantee for identical booking, refunds difference ‘Big Deal Guarantee’ for Name Your Own Price™ and Vacation Packages: difference + $25 + $50 off next 2-night or longer Vacation Package ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  72. 72. Priceline – Cancellation/Refund No official exceptions – consider trip insurance Possible flight exception for schedule changes You can always plead your case ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  73. 73. If you think some silly metal credit card is a conversation starter… ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  74. 74. …get the Shatner card! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  75. 75. Priceline Rewards Visa Credit Card 5x on Priceline bookings (except 1x on cruise bookings, non-Name Your Own Price® car reservations, and hotel reservations designated as Pay When You StaySM) 1x everywhere else Old accounts have 2x everywhere else – no current offers 10k sign-up bonus (requires $1k spend) = $100 cash rebate No annual fee Issued by Barclays ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  76. 76. Priceline – Cashback Mr Rebates – 3% except published flights ($3/ticket) TopCashBack – 3% on several categories Others come and go ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  77. 77. Priceline – Best General Airfare Option? Priceline getting good at replicating ITA Matrix fares Complex itineraries often need Hipmunk to price in Priceline Receive all airline benefits Priceline Rewards Visa 5x ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  78. 78. Priceline – Airfare Example New York – Moscow: United + Lufthansa + Swiss Hipmunk can only price it correctly on Priceline ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  79. 79. Priceline Questions? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  80. 80. Thank You rapidtravelchai.com stefan@rapidtravelchai.com @rapidtravelchai ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved

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