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The Washington Post this morning reports that Priceline "has quietly axed its Name-Your-Own-Price tool for flights, saying it would instead focus on set-price airfares that are easier and faster to book." The story notes that "fewer people were using the bidding feature, opting instead for straight-forward airline and hotel bookings. In recent years, Priceline has tried to steer customers toward its Express Deals, which offer so-called blind bookings for a discounted rate."

The Post writes that "Priceline, which was founded in 1997 during the heyday of the dot-com boom, was among the first online travel sites to offer discounted bookings with the click of a mouse. Two years later, the company went public, raising a record $12.9 billion in one day.

"Today, Priceline.com is the world's largest travel reservation site. The Priceline Group has expanded rapidly in recent years with the acquisition of sites like Kayak and Booking.com. Last year, Priceline had $55.5 billion in gross bookings and $9.22 billion in revenue, more than double the $4.36 billion it posted in 2011."
KC's View:
It should be noted that Priceline continues to offer a name-your-own-price feature for hotel rooms and rental cars, though I have to say that my recent experience is that it is far less effective than it used to be. The discounts are far smaller, and in fact a lot of hotel companies have developed pricing mechanisms that make it easier and cheaper to just go to them directly, which also reinforces loyalty.

Let's face it - Priceline always has encouraged the opposite of loyalty. Which is fine, though it often works against the interests of the companies that sell their wares on it. This is why, when Priceline got into the name-your-own-price business for groceries in the late nineties, it didn't work. (I've gone on record about this. It was one of the dumbest ideas that I'd ever heard of when it started, and I used to spend a lot of time criticizing the retailers that embraced it when I was writing for another website, pre-MNB. The owners of that website actually threatened to fire me when they got pressure from Priceline ... but fortunately for me, I had a contract that guaranteed me editorial freedom. But that's ancient history...)