Priceline Jumps Into Daily Deals Space (Actually, Nightly Deals Space)

Travel discounter is launching a new daily deals service aimed at helping users find cheap hotel rooms. (Or maybe it would be more accurate to call it a “nightly” deals service?)

Starting today, same-day offers for heavily discounted hotel rooms will become available in Priceline’s “Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator” app at 11 AM local time and can be instantly booked up until 11 PM, or until the deal sells out.

To be clear, Priceline isn’t using the group-buying model of Groupon here, which requires that a certain number of people sign up for a deal in order for it to “tip” (meaning become active.) But it certainly is tapping into the instant gratification from discount fervor that services like Groupon, Living Social and others offer.

The deals will show up in the mobile app when a traveler does a search for hotel rooms with a check-in date of “today.” When they buy a deal, they can choose to check-in that day, and stay up to 4 nights at discounts of up to 35% off published prices, says Priceline. The app will also show hotel descriptions, maps, photos, ratings and the current discount rate.

Priceline SVP Marketing John Caine says that the discounter decided to go after the daily deals market after discovering that 70% of Priceline’s mobile customers were looking for same-day check-ins.

Starting today, 3-star and 4-star rooms will be available via the new service in 34 cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. More cities will be added in the future.

The Priceline mobile app is available in iTunes and the Android Market.

Update: A top Priceline competitor in this space, Hotel Tonight, has just announced that it’s expanding into 14 more markets from the original 23. Good timing!