Orbitz shows pricier deals to Mac users

Own a Mac? Plan to book travel accommodations? You might want to sit down in front of the nearest PC—or fire up Boot Camp. According to the Wall Street Journal, Orbitz is experimenting with a new targeting scheme that presents Mac users with more expensive hotel options. That's because Mac users are apparently likelier to go with ritzier reservations:

Orbitz found Mac users on average spend $20 to $30 more a night on hotels than their PC counterparts, a significant margin given the site's average nightly hotel booking is around $100, chief scientist Wai Gen Yee said. Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four- or five-star hotel than PC users, Mr. Yee said, and when Mac and PC users book the same hotel, Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms.

The Journal says Orbitz execs "confirmed that the company is experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors." However, Orbitz was quick to stress that Mac and PC users see the same prices for the same rooms, and it's possible to sort offers by price, so even Mac users have access to the cheapest deals.

I suppose it's not surprising that Mac users spend more on average. The cheapest Apple laptop still costs $999, and the Mac Mini isn't exactly a steal at $599 without a keyboard, mouse, or display. Mac users clearly don't buy cheap computers, and so it follows that they're more likely to have higher incomes (and perhaps more discerning tastes). That said, I own a MacBook myself, and I've definitely never booked a five-star hotel room. I'd be more comfortable if travel and shopping sites didn't make incorrect assumptions about me.

Alas, Orbitz may be but the first of many. The Journal predicts that the kind of targeting Orbitz does "is likely to become more commonplace," because online retailers are reportedly scrambling to boost sales by analyzing shoppers' browsing habits.

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