Remember when Priceline was more than a white label of Booking.com? You could find fantastic hotel deals using the service in the early 2000s.
Priceline used to have a great “Name Your Own Price” functionality that, in later years, tried to hide on its website before retiring it.
Looking back, I believe that the Golden Years of this hotel bidding were in the early and mid-2000s when you could easily bid on branded hotels for anywhere from $40 to $80 per night when they were selling triple to quadruple the price on their websites.
Most of the time, you could also get a hotel loyalty program credit and qualifying nights by ensuring that the front desk added your number to the system for earning points for “incidentals.”
You could easily get 3,000 Hyatt points (they were worth something back in the day) plus a Faster Free Night Credit by booking one of their properties using Name Your Own Price for $45 bucks or so.
Then, there were the eBay Anything Points for a while, and you could get rewarded for Priceline Name Your Own Price bookings. Some booked hotels through Priceline only to get Anything Points that you could convert to Cathay’s Asia Miles (the cheapest way to accrue their miles back then).
There were websites Biddingfortravel and Betterbidding with their moderators. Forum members could post their winning bids and what hotels they got. This tremendously helped to figure out what you were likely to get. Remember Sheryl of BFT, that would ban you if you posted your winning bid but didn’t click through her links? They also helped with various “zones” that Priceline had drawn up, trying to obfuscate what were the likely hotels that you might get.
Obviously, chain hotels wisened up and stopped giving credits for stays that were booked using OTAs, and the deals on Priceline worsened too, and then they ended it altogether.
Priceline and all the Marriott and Hyatt promotions got me started with the loyalty programs 20 years ago, and it has been quite a ride.
It is somewhat sad compared to what you earn for stays TODAY (fewer) and how many points are required for free nights (multiples more) compared to back them.
There were always Hyatt G-bonuses and Diamond amenity bonuses that you could add to all stays, and you would also earn the Faster Free Night credit as long as you had a small eligible charge using a Mastercard (think of a phone call).
There is nothing even remotely comparable today.