The Mystery of Hidden Hotel Names on Priceline and Hotwire

Understand the reasons why Priceline and Hotwire hide hotel names when booking, revealing the strategy behind this approach.

Priceline and Hotwire are popular online travel agencies that offer discounted hotel rates, but they're known for a unique feature: they keep the hotel names hidden until after you make a reservation. This feature, often referred to as "opaque booking," "blind booking," or "express deals," can be a bit of a mystery to travelers. Here's how it works and some insights into why it's done:

How Hidden Hotel Names Work:When you use Priceline or Hotwire for hotel bookings, you typically select the city or area, the star rating you desire, and your travel dates. After entering these details, you'll see a list of available hotels with prices, but the hotel names and specific locations are hidden. Instead, you'll see a description of the hotel's general features and amenities, such as "4-star hotel with a pool and fitness center."

To reveal the hotel's name, you must complete the booking and make a non-refundable payment. Afterward, the hotel's name and exact location are disclosed.

Reasons for Hidden Hotel Names:

  1. Discounted Rates: One of the primary reasons for this approach is to offer steeply discounted rates to travelers. Hotels are willing to offer lower prices through these channels because they can fill empty rooms without undercutting their regular rates, which might affect their reputation.

  2. Brand Protection: Hotels, especially upscale ones, want to protect their brand image. They may not want their name associated with heavily discounted bookings, as it can suggest a lack of quality.

  3. Inventory Management: Hotels use these platforms to manage their inventory effectively. It's a way for them to fill rooms without publicly advertising lower prices, which could lead to price wars and hurt their revenue.

  4. Dynamic Pricing: These platforms allow hotels to employ dynamic pricing strategies, adjusting rates based on demand and occupancy. The mystery aspect encourages travelers to make reservations without knowing the hotel's name, helping hotels manage demand.

  5. Competitive Advantage: It gives online travel agencies an edge in the market, as they can offer travelers discounted rates that aren't publicly available on hotel websites.

Tips for Booking on Priceline and Hotwire:

  • Research Amenities: Pay close attention to the hotel's listed amenities and features. These can help you make an educated guess about the hotel's identity. You can cross-reference this with online resources like BetterBidding, where users share their experiences and identify hotels they've booked through opaque channels.

  • Flexibility: If you're comfortable with a degree of uncertainty and can be flexible with your hotel choice, opaque booking can be an excellent way to save money.

  • Read the Fine Print: Be aware that opaque bookings are typically non-refundable and non-changeable. Make sure you're committed to your travel plans before making a reservation.

  • Check for Additional Fees: Some hotels may charge extra fees for services like parking, resort fees, or Wi-Fi. Check for these potential costs when booking.

In summary, the mystery of hidden hotel names on platforms like Priceline and Hotwire is a strategy that benefits both hotels and travelers. It allows hotels to fill rooms at discounted rates while offering travelers the chance to save money, especially if they're flexible and don't require specific hotel names. However, it's important to do some research and read the fine print to ensure you're comfortable with the terms and conditions before making a reservation.

Why Do Priceline and Hotwire Hide Hotel Names?.

Priceline and Hotwire hide hotel names in a practice called opaque pricing. Opaque pricing is a business model in which the seller offers a product or service at a discounted price, but the buyer does not know the exact product or service they are buying until after the purchase is complete.

Priceline and Hotwire use opaque pricing to sell hotel rooms that would otherwise be unsold. Hotels often have excess inventory of rooms, especially during the off-season. By selling these rooms at a discounted price through Priceline and Hotwire, hotels can reduce their losses.

Opaque pricing also benefits consumers. Consumers who are willing to book a hotel room without knowing the exact name of the hotel can often get a significant discount. For example, Priceline and Hotwire offer Express Deals and Hot Deals, respectively, which allow consumers to book hotel rooms for up to 60% off the advertised price.

However, there are some risks associated with opaque pricing. One risk is that the consumer may not be happy with the hotel they are booked into. For example, the hotel may be located in a bad area of town or it may not have the amenities that the consumer was expecting.

Another risk is that the consumer may not be able to cancel their reservation without penalty. Priceline and Hotwire have strict cancellation policies, so it is important to read the fine print before booking a hotel room.

Overall, opaque pricing can be a good way for consumers to save money on hotel rooms. However, it is important to be aware of the risks involved before booking a room.

Here are some tips for using opaque pricing to book hotel rooms:

  • Read the fine print. Before you book a hotel room, be sure to read the fine print carefully. This includes reading the cancellation policy, the refund policy, and the terms of service.
  • Do your research. Even though you won't know the exact name of the hotel until after you book, you can still do some research on the area where you're staying. This will help you to avoid booking a room in a bad area of town.
  • Be flexible. If you are flexible with your travel dates and hotel location, you are more likely to find a good deal.
  • Book early. The best deals on hotel rooms are often available to people who book early.

If you are considering using opaque pricing to book a hotel room, weigh the risks and benefits carefully. Opaque pricing can be a good way to save money, but it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks.