[1/3/2003 - Update: Surprisingly, we have received additional reports this week from Observers who have still been able to get rooms at the Marriott for US$70 for Macworld through Priceline. As we said in our update earlier this month (below), we have no way of knowing how long rooms will last at that price, but if you are still making last minute travel plans, trying Priceline is worth the gamble. In the full story below, we explain that the way Priceline works, you arenit bidding on the Marriott itself, but rather any 4-star (or other rating) hotel in the downtown area, and you canit beat a 4-star hotel for US$70, whether or not itis the Marriott. Note that these rooms are normally priced in the US$200 range. Check the full story below for exact instructions on how to try for these rooms at US$70. - Editor]
[12/13/2002 - Update: As of the morning of December 13th, people have still been able to get rooms at the Marriott during Macworld San Francisco for US$70. With the way Priceline works, we have no way of knowing how long rooms will last at that price, but with a bit more than three weeks remaining before the show, it would probably be best to try and get your rooms sooner, rather than later. - Editor]
As many of you know, we send a good chunk of our staff to Macworld Expo twice a year, and, well, it costs us a pretty penny. As the official Bean Counter of TMO here, I am tasked with finding us the best deals on airfare and hotel accommodations each time iround. This time we stumbled on to such a great deal that we felt weid share our success story (and hopefully the ability to do this) with all of you.
Before I continue, I must tell you all that the particular deal I got today is NOT going to last forever, and may even be gone by the time youire reading this. Still, the advice contained herein is valuable for future travel endeavors, so read on.
Two years ago, after paying more than US$200/room to stay at the Marriott, I was sitting in San Francisco with Low End Macis Dan Knight, and he said, "You didnit use Priceline? Iim ashamed of you!" Well, it didnit take any more prodding than that for me to dig deeper. I had looked into Priceline for airfare before, but hated the concept of buying a flight before I knew what time I was leaving and how long I was going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere.
With hotel rooms, however, itis WAY different. Priceline allows you to choose check-in date, check-out date, general location (more on this later), and star-rating of your hotel. Basically the only thing you canit do is pick a specific hotel. But think about it -- except for the rarest of circumstances, why would you care WHERE you stayed? If youire going to New York, and you get to pick that you want to be in the Midtown East section in a 4 star (or better) hotel, does it really matter if itis the Waldorf Astoria or the Grand Hyatt? (Both of which, for the record, Iive stayed at through Priceline, and so has the rest of the TMO staff, for approximately $100/night).
So when it came time to book hotels for the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco, I went to Priceline again. I chose the dates I wanted to arrive, said that I wanted a 4-star or better hotel, and that I wanted it in the "South Of Market - Convention Center" section of town. I also put in that I was willing to pay US$70 per night (plus taxes and a $5.95 reservation fee) for the room. I entered my credit card number, and within about 10 minutes, I had been confirmed at the San Francisco Marriott -- Yes, folks, the very same Marriott that is touted as the "Headquarters Hotel" of MWSF, and the one for which theyire charging a "special rate" of US$217 per night -- including taxes and fees, weire paying US$80.58 for each night there. I booked 6 rooms this way today, folks, and have all the faith that there are quite a few more available.
Heck, if you donit get into the Marriott, would it be so bad being at another 4-star hotel (like the Argent or the W, perhaps) for the same price? As long as itis a nice place in the location you want, the rest doesnit matter.
Since that fateful day sitting with Dan Knight almost 2 years ago, I have used Priceline to book hotels almost every time I travel, be it on business or with my family, and itis worked out great. Certainly there are times when I havenit gotten what I wanted, but itis worth a try. Check it out for yourself, and let us know how you did with your comments below!