Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Schwartz's vs the Priceline Game

A long, long time ago in the pre-kids day when I worked and we had expendable income and could do whatever we wanted with little foresight and planning (ah, the good ol' days) I invented a game that I liked to call The Priceline Game.

Now to understand the game you have to understand a few important facts about priceline (and I'm talking the old days where all you had was the name your own price option).  When booking on priceline using the name your own price you put in the city, you can pick areas of the town (i.e. downtown or the names of various suburbs and neighborhoods), the number of stars, and the price you want.  Then Priceline goes out and sees if any hotels with those specifications will accept your price.  If one does then they automatically charge your card and your room is booked and paid for.  YOU DO NOT GET TO PICK THE HOTEL.  They tell you where you're staying because that's the hotel that accepted your price.  If no one accepts the price sometimes they tell you that if you change it to this price there is a hotel willing to take it or they just say sorry no can do.  And then you can't put in that same bid for 24 or 48 hours I can't remember which.

So here's how I play the priceline game.  I'd get the sudden urge to want to go out of town.  I'd typically call Chris and tell him I'm going to put in X number of dollars for a 4 star hotel in whatever city and if it gets picked up then we'd go on vacation for that weekend.  If not, no skin off our noses the card isn't charged and it's not big deal.  We've scored some pretty great deals for hotels in Atlanta, Chicago (my favorite trip), and St. Louis before.  I usually put in for downtown hotels because I'm not familiar with the different neighborhoods and areas and pretty much figure the downtown hotels are going to be nice and close to the stuff that we want to go see and do.  The downside is 4 star hotels don't have free breakfast like good old Holiday Inn and you have to pay for parking.  Because of this I usually put in REALLY low prices to make myself feel better.

Anyway, last Wednesday Sarah was being a pill and not taking a nap.  I realized that it was Chris's spring break and we were SUPPOSED to be in FL at Disney World but had decided not to go visit my aunt and grandparents because Cody in a car for that long would turn me either homicidal or suicidal.  And I was just about going nuts.  Sometimes when I'm a little stressed out I do drastic things.  Generally hair cuts or spending money is the end result of these moments of crazy.  This time, I was sitting at the computer and turned to my old addiction...the Priceline Game.  Some friends of ours had told us about the City Museum and I've been wanting to go since they mentioned it last summer.  So I loaded up Priceline and typed in St. Louis, clicked on 3 star upscale and 4 star hotels in the downtown area and boldly typed in the price $45.  (In a box on the corner it said the median price for these qualifications was $150.)  I really didn't think much of it because I didn't think the price would get picked up.  Then it did.  And I had to call Chris and tell him what I did!

We ended up staying at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.  And the deal got even better.  When we went to check in Chris was parking the car and Cami and I had the kids at the front desk.  The wonderfully nice lady said they were out of doubles (even though I had called earlier in the day to ensure we had a double and a crib reserved).  She then asked if Cam and I were "together".  I'm pretty sure she was trying to ask if we were sharing a room but since only queen beds were available I said, "we are but not like that!" and she laughed and then told us since they were out of doubles what they could do was put us in side by side room and comp the second room.  SCORE!  So for those of you playing a long at home we just got 2 rooms for $45 or in other words $22.50 a room (before tax)!  And that worked out perfectly because Sarah slept in Cam's room and Cody in our room.  Then Cody cried the whole night both nights and I was REALLY glad we had separate rooms so that at least Sarah could get some sleep. 

We think the reason why Cody was having a hard time sleeping is because the rooms were so hot.  They hadn't switched over to summer yet so the heat was still on and our thermostat wasn't working so there was no way to stop the hot air or get some cool air circulating.  The second night when Cody woke up around 3:30 he was burning up and dehydrated.  We stripped him down and I fed him and tried to calm him but he was too hot.  So I called down to the front desk and they said they were out of fans which made me a little cranky and Cody was screaming bloody murder in the background.  The manager on duty said he'd see what he could do and about 30 minutes later he was knocking on our door apologizing and holding a little desk fan he took out of someone's office.  Very nice guy.  Once we got the room cooled down Cody and the rest of us slept just fine.  

The manager also put a note in our file so when I went to check out the new manager on duty apologized again.  He said he couldn't comp our room because it was a priceline deal, but he offered us free breakfast (we declined since the car was loaded and we were trying to leave) and instead gave us free parking for that day.  Another $18 savings!  So all in all I think it was a pretty good deal.  We stayed in a nice hotel that great customer service and spent WAAAAY less than the $159 a night that they charge on their own website for that same room.  

Man, I love playing the Priceline Game!

1 comment: