Priceline boldly goes where others have gone before

Company expands beyond "name your own price" strategy to mimic published list format offered by rivals.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
2 min read
Priceline.com has expanded beyond its name-your-own price format, allowing people to choose from a list of published prices for hotels, airlines, rental cars and travel packages.

Under the published list format, people can type in specific travel plans and get a list of detailed itineraries and prices. Such a format is already offered on rivals Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, and gives Priceline another avenue to sell travel-related products.

"Customers can now choose the exact brand name and product from a published list price, whereas before they could only use our name-your-own-price (feature)," said Brian Ek, a Priceline spokesman. "As a result, people were never sure what hotel they would get until they make their purchase, so if you were traveling with friends, you wouldn't know if you'd get the same hotel."

Priceline decided to offer the published list feature for hotels, rental cars and travel packages, after launching a similar program for its airline tickets last year, Ek said.

The company will continue to offer its name-your-own price service, in which consumers list approximate travel dates, times and locations for travel; make the purchase; and then learn which airlines, hotel, rental car service or travel package they will receive. The travel costs for the name-your-own price format tend to be cheaper than the rates charged on the published list prices.

With the additional format, Priceline has been able to increase the number of travel companies it represents by threefold to more than 60,000, Ek said.

The company is also kicking off another multimillion TV advertising campaign with Priceline celebrity spokesman and former "Star Trek" star William Shatner.

Priceline expects to spend at least $30 million on marketing and advertising this year, which is comparable to the figure it spent last year, Ek said.