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Top 10 Influential Business Models


10
Name Your Price: Priceline
William Shatner is Priceline's long-time spokesman, appearing in the company's over-the-top ad campaigns.
William Shatner is Priceline's long-time spokesman, appearing in the company's over-the-top ad campaigns.
John M. Heller/Getty Images

Priceline, a travel site, distinguished itself early during the travel wars of the '00s by introducing their name-your-own-price concept, in which vendors bid to meet the prices customers set for hotel stays and air tickets. While the company offers conventional travel planning as well, the name-your-own-price option continues to intrigue companies in other industries.

Bookings offered under the name your own price program are not disclosed by name (or itinerary, in the case of airfares), which protects suppliers by not linking them to the discounted quotes that would otherwise change the prices they regularly charge. By concentrating on hotel bookings and high-end overseas travel, Priceline also protects itself from the risks of putting too much emphasis on products in the volatile air travel market -- fares which attract users to the site and get them interested in higher-margin hotel bookings.

Although airline Web sites have, in recent years, begun to outperform most regular online travel agency bookings -- since they don't have to add profits with booking fees -- the customized hotel options added into travel bundles have helped Priceline to continue in their success.

On the downside, customers are gambling without some fairly important information: The provider, the itinerary and exact times of travel aren't available under the name your own price option until you've already committed to your non-refundable trip. However, going in with these assumptions can mean unbeatable prices and a fairly straightforward agreement. While a business traveler may not have the time or leisure to book partially unknown flights with unknown carriers, regular travelers can take advantage of great deals.