This morning Priceline announced a major change to their vaunted Name Your Own Price Model that has been the basis of their opaque hotel product since inception. Billed as a "limited time offer" until the end of March, Priceline is actually showing winning bids and allowing consumers to simply tag-along and buy the same thing, assuming availability still exists. No bidding, no guessing - just a posted price. Its not perfect because Priceline may not have availability for the dates you are checking (vs. what the last consumer bought.)
Yes, you read that right, a posted price. In the example below, Priceline is offering a 4 Star hotel room in Boston without any bidding. Not so much "Negotiation" here - just "Big Deals"
Scrolling down, a user can simply enter their credit card details and buy - on the same page. No bidding, no guessing. Again, the bid may not be accepted so it isnt fool-proof.
Priceline is pitching this as a limited time offer - but we've seen this movie before. Remember the first OTA to cut fees? Yep, that was Priceline and that was a "limited time" offer as well.
It would appear this business model simplification is a direct swipe at opaque competitor Hotwire.com (full disclosure: I formerly worked there) which has always used a similar no-bidding model.
And this will also take some of the gas out of "cheater" websites like www.biddingfortravel.com which have long suggested bidding price points for use on Priceline.com. Of course, biddingfortravel.com also posted which hotels actually fulfilled the bids - and nothing is changing regarding opacity during the booking process.
We'll see where this goes, but we doubt this is any more "temporary" than booking fee rollbacks were over a year ago.