Pricelining Sold Out Hotels

Just because a hotel — or nearly every hotel in town — is sold out, doesn’t mean there isn’t Priceline availability.

It isn’t often that this winds up being the case, but it’s an important lesson nonetheless.

This week the World Bank is meeting in DC. There are protestors. And there’s a huge pro-choice walk/protest (scheduled around the World Bank, believe it or not… as a way of picking up extra folks to participate who will be in town anyway).

Plus it’s school trip time for DC. There just aren’t hotels available in town. The Best Western downtown wants $667. The Washington Terrace Hotel where I can often call up and get a $99 rate wants $1000.

So I had someone coming into town tonight and couldn’t get anything on Priceline at the 4* level anywhere. Hotwire offered only one hotel for $250. I managed to book the Hotel Rouge via SideStep for $219 when their website said sold out.

Done? Hardly. I found out someone else needed a room for tomorrow night. Again there’s virtually nothing available for less than $300 except outside the City at the quality of a Days Inn. Orbitz had a prepaid rate at the Hilton Washington & Towers for $100, but it was for a “parlor room with sofa bed” .. Not! Hotwire had a room that may have been at the same property for $130, otherwise their best bet was $265.

So I just took a stab in the dark with Priceline, even though there was nothing available for the previous night. I probably overbid, as I hit it on my first shot in my ideal location. The Grand Hyatt for $100.

Now, the Grand Hyatt wanted $399 for a room directly. Expedia said rooms were only available with a 4 night minimum stay. So I tell ya, gotta love Priceline! This is actually my first choice property for this person’s stay.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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