I just found out about a strange new way to potentially save on hotel travel.  It’s a newish (Feb. 2011) travel website that is set up kind of like a reverse penny auction.  You can register for free on their website http://www.baiduhotel.com/, but to bid on a hotel gift certificate costs .50 cents per bid.  Each hotel gift certificate auction starts at a high price; the “retail price” of a one night stay at the hotel.  Each time someone places a .50 cent bid the price of the hotel gift certificate goes down by .10 cents.  If other people are bidding, then they can potentially push the price down.  If this happens and the price drops the first bidder to hit the “Buy” button wins the hotel gift certificate.  (Did you follow that, because I thought it was very confusing myself.)  If during the auction the price has been pushed down with bidding, then the person who ultimately purchases/wins the certificate has saved some money.  The winner could possibly save a lot of money on that hotel stay.
Where I see the money savings is by being the winner, not the bidder.  It’s an interesting concept and if I was the person that had just won a night’s stay in Time’s Square for $38 I would be thrilled.  If I was the person that spent $10 bucks trying to get a good deal and didn’t, I would feel ripped off.  If you helped bid down the price and didn’t win you are still out your .50 cents per bid.
I also see savings in expensive travel destinations like New York City and Washington D.C.  You know you are going to spend a lot on a hotel stay in one of these cities.  So, even bidding it down a little might save you money.  Last time I went to NYC it was well over $200 a night, which is the starting price on the hotels I see for NYC on their website.
Before you bid on any of the hotels make sure to read the description of what you are bidding on.  I looked at several and one said it expired in 3 years, one said 1 year and another stated that it never expired.   Take time to look at the hotel’s website and make sure you know what a room sells for during the season you will be going.  In the summer that hotel room could be $250 and you would automatically save, but in the winter it could be $150 and you could overpay.  Also, make sure that the hotel has availability when you want to go.
I would love to hear from any of you that have tried this.  I think I will try this the next time I am going to NYC.  Have you won a good hotel deal using this website?

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