by Wayne Carter / Eyewitness News wwltv.com
Posted on February 17, 2011 at 7:03 PM
Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 10:59 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- Business owner Gian Durand spends a lot of time traveling and says her hotel costs are definitely the most expensive part of her trips.
We asked her to book a hotel as she normally would for an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. She picked one near her conference and found one with the cost of $299 per night, and the cost goes up to $439 on the last night she's there.
“If you go to a city and there's an event in town, your first couple days you'll pay one rate, but if the occupancy is high this is almost double,” Durand said.
The total bill for her stay came to more than $1,300. However, we can stretch her dollar using web sites that let you bid on hotel rates. Priceline.com and biddingfortravel.com are good examples. They let you tell them what you're willing to pay.
“It's not cheating the hotels,” said Mavis Early, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association. “Most of the hotels use those online services. It's good for them.”
It helps hotels fill rooms that would otherwise sit empty.
We found a four-star hotel in the French Quarter for $38 per night, one in Miami for $74, and a luxury hotel in Atlanta for $49 a night. Step 1: Research There are websites out there, like biddingfortravel.com, that track what people bid for rooms and what they actually get.
We found people paying $85 at the exact same hotel that is charging Ms. Durand $299 a night.
Start bidding there, and if you fail like we did, don't give up. Step 2: Make Smart Changes We used New Orleans as an example and told the website we wanted a 4-star hotel here in the Central Business District, and that we're willing to stay at a 4-star hotel in New Orleans East, knowing there really isn't one here.
Basically, we're getting another shot to bid right here where we really want to be.
We employed that technique with Durand's trip and kept slowly increasing our price until we found a room for $112 a night at the JW Marriott, a very good deal!
$112 a night is just under $500 for the whole trip, and now Durand is staying at a 4-star luxury hotel, just across the street from the one charging her $1300 when we first started.
“This is going to be my new best friend when I'm traveling. I know this hotel, I like this hotel, this is a brand I stay at, and I'm going to use this every time I travel, every time,” Said Ms. Durand.
Remember, you do have to be very careful when bidding, and once you bid and win, the deal is done; there's no canceling allowed.
You must also pay up front, so you have to make sure you know what you're doing.
There are many websites out there offering strategies for this, and bidding for rental cars too.