Time your search appropriately. With Priceline, you must wait 24 hours before rebidding higher on the same quality of hotel in the same neighborhood. Antonioli says she'll sometimes rebid the next day or adjust her geographic parameters so she can rebid on the spot. However, she says, "you have to be willing to let it go." There's a certain emotional attachment that can occur with bidding, so Antonioli tries not to get too invested. With spur-of-the-moment road trips, she says, "I have bid for things, not gotten the price I wanted, and just not gone."
While these sites can offer some very attractive deals to last-minute travelers (for instance, Antonioli says she's booked a room in Philadelphia for $55 a night bidding two days in advance), Banas says it's a bad idea to wait if you know you need to be at a wedding or a conference on a certain date, especially during peak travel periods. If inventory sells out, you could be out of luck with Priceline or Hotwire. However, for day-of hotel bookings, she suggests trying the HotelTonight app (available on iPhone or Android) or Tonight-Only, Priceline's new iPhone app.