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Priceline, Hotwire, Last Minute Travel, Hotel Tonight: Not for travelers with dogs

[5/6/13 Things have improved a bit since this post was published: Priceline’s Express Deals feature now lets some travelers with pets (owners of a single, small dog) find hotel bargains.]

This, sadly, is a short and depressing post. You’ve seen the Priceline ads, no doubt — heck, I’ve seen them, and I don’t watch TV — and you, like me, love the idea of getting a last-minute hotel deal. But it turns out that if you’re traveling with a pet dog, you can’t use the popular “Name Your Own Price” feature of Priceline to find a great hotel price, because Priceline does not allow you to specify that you seek a dog-friendly hotel. You can ask for a neighborhood, and a star level, but that’s it.

Now, if you choose to use Priceline simply to make hotel reservations, as you would on Expedia or TripAdvisor, you can look at the list of hotels that are generated by your request and research each, individually, to see if any of them is dog-friendly. However, here too Priceline does not provide a way to narrow down your hotel choices in advance. [By contrast, TripAdvisor and Expedia both allow you to narrow down your choices, by checking the “pets allowed” box under “refine search” (TripAdvisor), or the “pets allowed” box under “filter results” (Expedia).]

How about Priceline’s competitors? I contacted Hotwire, Last Minute Travel and Hotel Tonight, and got the same response from each. Hotel Tonight won points by responding personally and promptly, and by saying they’d pass the suggestion on to their development team (“I’ll make sure the team knows there’s a request for a search function”). There was no indication from the other three companies that they’d be letting their teams know — and yet, how hard would it be to add that check-box to the search options offered to clients? Not hard, my geek husband assures me.