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jan 29

It's hard to book those $1 room rates at LastMinuteTravel

LastMinuteTravel.com has relaunched with an additional new blind-booking service that's similar to Hotwire and Priceline. To celebrate, they're holding a sale on hotels. If you book on their site at the right time, you can get a hotel night for only $1. (The sale/contest lasts until Feb. 6.)

The company tells us that, as of yesterday, 624 bookings have been successful for the first three days of the sale. The average vacation prize was 5 nights long and valued at about $2,000, with a cost of $1. Most of the prizes were "luxury properties" in popular destinations like New York city, Orlando, Paris, and the Bahamas.

The catch is that the site won't tell you which 15-minute period in any given day is the time to try and book the prize reservation for $1. You either have to check in randomly or sign up for e-mails which give you clues.

Reporter Christopher Elliott became curious about how difficult it is to book the cheap rooms. He asked some questions of LastMinuteTravel's spokesperson, and here's her response. If you plan on participating in the contest, this may be of help:

The World for $1 sale occurs on LastMinuteTravel.com each weekday (Jan 26–Feb 6) for a total of 15 minutes daily, with a minimum of seven more opportunities to become involved from today forward. Specific start times vary day-to-day, and the 15-minute windows are divided into three or less sessions per day—each lasting for at least five minutes, for a total 15 minutes of sale time each day. During the sale, travelers automatically view a series of three tutorials, which total two minutes and 25 seconds when combined. Each short video explains how to 'book smarter' on the new LastMinuteTravel.com and gives tips on using the Undercover hotel model.

On average, it should take 3 minutes to complete a reservation during this sale. For instance, on January 26, the sale's launch day, the first session occurred in the morning during the ten o'clock hour, and again in the afternoon at the one o'clock hour. One session was seven minutes long, and the other was eight. During these two sessions alone, we had 112 people complete bookings.

It's also important to note that while we have taken all of the necessary steps to support the enormous demand expected during this promotion, rooms may sell out during high-demand periods.

UPDATE: Jan. 30, 1 p.m. See how some other travelers have tried to improve their odds of winning using some free Web software in this forum at Slick Deals.

If you have any luck with this now-you-see-it, now-you-don't offer, let us know!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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