The older of the two sites, Priceline PCLN began operating in , making it something of a venerable institution by internet standards. A long-running ad campaign featuring actor William Shatner beloved of Star Trek fans helped make it a household name. While Priceline made its name with its Name Your Own Price feature, it has over the last few years been phasing it out for everything but hotels. And the bidding page is becoming increasingly harder to find on the site.
However, you can specify some parameters, such as an approximate location and a star rating with hotels, or time of day for a flight. It also offers a third option, called Express Deals, which lists hotels or airline flights by price.
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Although one of the major motivations for travel providers to partner with sites like Priceline is to move their hotel rooms, plane seats, rental cars, and other perishable inventory that would otherwise go unsold, Priceline generally has a large selection to choose from even months ahead. No bidding. No hassle. No games. However, Hotline does offer an opaque pricing option for accommodations, the equivalent of Priceline's Express Deals. Called Hot Rate Hotels, it lists a price and provides a general location and star rating, but the actual hotel names are opaque until you actually book.
Click the "which hotel will I get?
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This info is far more specific than the intel offered by Express Deals, which says only "our collection includes these brands. As with Priceline, Hotwire has no shortage of offerings.
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Independent rating services give both travel sites close grades but differ as to which one belongs on top. In , Top Ten Reviews gave Priceline 6.
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