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Will Hotels Match Priceline? Solved!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 5, 2023

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Have you ever found a great deal on Priceline for a hotel room, only to find the same room at a lower price directly through the hotel's website? You might be tempted to ask the hotel to match the lower Priceline rate, but in most cases, they will not be able to do so.

Why is this? Why wouldn't a hotel want to match a lower price and make the sale? In this blog post, we'll discuss the business model of Priceline and why hotels may not be able to match their rates.
Before we do that, here's a quick introduction to Priceline.


What is Priceline?

online booking of tickets and hotels

Priceline started as a travel website where customers could "name their own price" for airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and more. It allowed customers to save money by offering a lower price for these services, and in turn, the companies could fill their empty inventory.

In recent years, Priceline has expanded to include traditional booking options and vacation packages. The company is owned by Booking Holidays and several other travel websites, including and Kayak. Priceline's business model acts as a middleman between the customer and the travel companies, charging a commission for connecting them. In their popular commercials, you might have seen their spokesperson, William Shatner.

How Does Priceline Make Money?

Businesswoman and her assistant checking into a hotel at the reception

Priceline has several revenue streams, including commissions from travel bookings and advertising fees. They also offer an "Express Deals" option where customers can save up to 60% on hotels without knowing the specific hotel until after booking.

Additionally, Priceline works with hotels to offer discounted rates through their "opaque inventory," meaning the customer pays a set price for the room without knowing the hotel until after booking.
While this might seem a drawback to customers, it allows Priceline to offer discounted rates. Hotels and airlines are willing to offer lower prices because they fill their empty inventory, and in return, Priceline charges a commission for connecting them with customers.

Why Can't Hotels Match Priceline Rates?

Couple in café is making online reservation for travel

Now that we better understand how Priceline operates let's address the question. Can a hotel match a lower Priceline rate?

In most cases, the answer is no. There are a few reasons for this. Here are some of them:

1. Bad for Long Term Business

The hotel may not want to lower their rates for one customer because it sets a precedent that they are willing to do so in the future. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction who booked directly through the hotel at a higher rate and hurt the hotel's reputation and overall business.

In addition, it may also encourage customers to book directly through the hotel in the future. This is a long-term strategy to maintain the hotel's brand and pricing. A hotel offering discounted rates through Priceline may be for a limited time or specific dates with low occupancy.

2. Hotel's Rate vs. Priceline's Rate are Different

Hotels often have different rates for various reasons, including time of year, demand, special offers, etc. It could be that the lower rate on Priceline is for a specific promotion or offer that the hotel may not have.

This means the hotel's and Priceline's rates are different. You may be able to negotiate with the hotel for a lower rate or special offer, but they likely will not match the exact rate on Priceline. Sometimes, the hotel may have a different room available at a lower rate.

3. Hotel's Agreement with Priceline

The hotel may have an agreement with Priceline where they cannot offer the same or lower rates to customers booking directly through them. This allows the hotel and Priceline to maintain their business relationship and ensure that customers are encouraged to book through Priceline rather than directly through the hotel. When searching for a hotel room, it's always good to check multiple sources and compare rates, including the hotel's website.

4. The Hotel's Overall Business Strategy

The hotel may have a specific pricing strategy they want to maintain, regardless of what other booking websites or companies offer. This could include maintaining higher rates during peak times and discounted rates during slower periods. Hotels often offer deals or special packages that may not be available through third-party booking sites like Priceline.

In short, while it may be frustrating to see a lower rate on Priceline, the hotel may not be able to match it due to various reasons related to their business strategy and agreements with third-party booking sites like Priceline. In these cases, it may be worth considering a special offer or negotiating with the hotel for a lower rate, but they likely will not match the exact Priceline rate.

Tips for Finding the Best Hotel Rates

Packing for a business trip

When finding the best hotel rates, it's essential to research and compare prices across multiple sources. Here are some tips:

1. Book in Advance

The earlier you book, the more likely you will find better rates and availability. This is especially true during peak travel times and for popular destinations. You may also want to consider booking during slower periods for even better deals. In addition, booking ahead of time allows for more flexibility in case any changes or cancellations occur.

2. Compare Rates

It's always a good idea to compare rates across various websites, including the hotel's website and third-party booking sites like Expedia or Priceline. You may find different offers and deals through each one. It's also helpful to check the hotel's social media and sign up for their email list, as they may offer exclusive deals or promotions.

3. Negotiate

Feel free to negotiate with the hotel for a better rate or special offer. This can be especially helpful during slower periods or if you plan on staying for an extended period. You may also want to consider negotiating for added amenities or upgrades.

4. Consider Package Deals

Sometimes package deals that include the hotel room, flight, and rental car can offer better rates than booking each separately. It can also save time and make planning your trip easier. However, comparing the package deal with booking each separately is essential to ensure you get the best deal.

5. Use Rewards Programs

If available, signing up for hotel rewards programs can lead to discounts and special offers. This can also allow you to earn points towards free stays or upgrades at participating hotels. Additionally, using a credit card that offers hotel stays rewards can lead to savings.

The key to finding the best hotel rates is researching and comparing prices across various sources. Feel free to negotiate or consider package deals; taking advantage of rewards programs can also lead to savings. Following these tips ensures you get the best deal for your next hotel stay.

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