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.

Comments closed
    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Soo many different things you can pull away from this… and this is from a travel website. If they’re likely to pay higher on average for a hotel room that generally means that Apple users are better off… which in turn leads to the argument of Apple being a high class fad rather then a solid alternative to PCs. But most people know this already… Just don’t tell the Mac fans.

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      A fad that has been going on for 36 years.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Just ignore the 90s right?

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          That is probably the one part where it was a “Fad”. Then Steve came back….

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            And resurrected the fad?

        • ImSpartacus
        • 7 years ago

        Are BMWs also a fad? Markers like computers and cars help companies figure out stuff about you.

        There are all sorts of ethical arguments about what they [u<][i<]do[/i<][/u<] with that information, but there aren't arguments about how they get it. These markers actually exist. Statisticians and their modelling friends don't have hefty paychecks because they are good at reading crystal balls.

    • glynor
    • 7 years ago

    Cyril, I’m confused… Why do you care what Orbitz shows you in the “best values” sorting?

    I mean, you can still sort by any other method, and those “best value” sortings (and “top picks” and all the rest) are all pay-to-play in almost all cases anyway. They’re ads.

    • Yeats
    • 7 years ago

    Are Linux users being shown free rooms? Of course, in these rooms, a large group of people live together, and when you need to pee one of your roommates holds a free paper cup for you.

    • MethylONE
    • 7 years ago

    What the hotels need to do is have ‘Mac Only’ rooms with a fancy Apple logo on the door. The rooms could be identical in every other way but they could still charge much more for them.

    It could be widely reported that the rooms are identical but Mac users would still pay more for those rooms.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Except that room service would be much better and more reliable, not outsourced to India, and the rooms themselves would be built to a much higher standard of quality, and the tv probably wouldn’t make you sit through a ton of ads (bloatware) before letting you use it.

      Two things that are physically identical are never necessarily equal.

        • Yeats
        • 7 years ago

        Actually, there’d be no service at all, as neither you nor management would ever acknowledge you were lacking anything.

        Also, the TV would be great, but you’d get only one channel.

          • internetsandman
          • 7 years ago

          If you’re referring to the ‘you’re holding it wrong’ debacle then I’d say thats a pretty poor judge of overall customer service (even though, ill admit, it was pretty pathetic) especially since Apple ranks near the top of all it’s competitors in terms of quality of customer service

            • Chandalen
            • 7 years ago

            there’s also the “we don’t have maleware, you must be mistaken” type reports that float up, and various other details. (I’m not bashing on apple per say, but there is evidence out there other than the popular ‘you’re holding it wrong’ debacle”)

        • MethylONE
        • 7 years ago

        Thank you for that perfect example of my point.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    is this based on hardware or OSX? I mean, i would love to have a macbook pro…but I wouldnt hesitate for a split second in wiping the machine and installing winblows.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      More then likely the browsers User Agent string.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 7 years ago

      It’s a good setup. You lose a little battery life because bootcamp drivers don’t let Windows manage stuff quite as efficiently, but it’s not bad.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Meh, if the internet was around when the Titanic was around they would have targeted Macs for upperclass and the PC users for steerage.

    This is really no different then any other advertising. If a car salesman sold a Cadillac Denali to a person and then the guy takes it to get the oil changed elsewhere, the oil change place is going to try to sell him the synthetic oil instead of the cheap plain old regular house brand.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    What interests me most about this story is that if you go to Mac-centric sites, the prevailing attitude is: “I’m glad they’re doing this to me!” Almost nobody is up in arms.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Kinda…like a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_evangelist#Mac_as_Religion<]religion?[/url<]

        • pedro
        • 7 years ago

        That’s a pretty apt way of putting it.

        • 5150
        • 7 years ago

        At least they can prove existence of Apple.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          But none of the beliefs are any more grounded in reality.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Who needs reality when your savior has a reality distortion field?

            • End User
            • 7 years ago

            Are you talking about your own?

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field[/url<]

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            .

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      The headline for some reason made me think they were showing the same hotels at higher prices. The fact that they’re not – and that they’re just showing the nicer hotels first – is probably why nobody other than Cyril is upset about it.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, that’s a really poor headline. I, too, thought that Orbitz was increasing prices for Mac users.

        But if they are simply suggesting rooms/hotels like other that mac users have statistically preferred, than it’s no biggie.

        That means that OS is just one of the [i<]many[/i<] parameters that will go into Orbitz recommendations. Orbitz can (roughly) tell where you're connecting from. The place that you live is very strongly correlated with a bunch of things like race/ethnicity and socioeconomic level, which can be used to improve recommendations in a statistically significant way. These recommendations are not meant to upsell customers. They are meant to get visitors to spend their money as fast as possible, before they check other sites. If adding OS into the recommendation algorithm means that visitors waste less time picking out rooms, then costumers are happier and Orbitz is happier.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      That tells us a LOT, actually.

      Mac users are, on average, willing to pay for good experience. PC users, on average, are willing to make a good experience.

    • dragmor
    • 7 years ago

    This no different to any other targeted marketing. Retail employees treat you differently depending on your clothes.

    Kogan.com.au adds an IE7 tax / charge to purchases. The charge is calculated at 0.1% for every month since IE7′s launch (so about 7%). Its a pretty decent incentive to upgrade your browser.

      • green
      • 7 years ago

      gimmick

      everyone ignored the fact that microsoft pushed the IE8 update in australia (and brazil)
      of course not everyone got updated, but the average “consumer” would have been
      (do you really think people normally go in and do things like disable windows update?)
      so basically their target audience had already moved onto IE8

      then months later the site says people using IE7 are going to get charged higher
      when the reality is the overwhelming majority of their users are already off IE7
      meaning the fact they’re still making it work in IE7 is their own choice

      strangely though they don’t mention the same for IE6
      (for which the site loads as a broken mess)

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Ofc people that own Apple products pay more than they should. After all they bought Apple products…q.e.d.

    • grantmeaname
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]I'd be more comfortable if travel and shopping sites didn't make incorrect assumptions about me.[/quote<] That's the way all online advertising, including that done by this site, works. It's incorrect to assume that I want to buy a $350 motherboard just because I read a hardware site (I don't), but it's demographically a safe bet that they'll get more hits here than on espn.com. So why exactly is this offensive?

      • crabjokeman
      • 7 years ago

      I’d be more comfortable if they didn’t try to track people and mine their data too…

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      Ads are different from actual an actual store selling something.

        • grantmeaname
        • 7 years ago

        Nope. Just like every other free website, TR is a business, selling your eyeballs to advertisers. The difference is that you are the product.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          So you agree with me, ads are different from actually selling a product.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            Hey wait a minute, I see what you did there.

    • codedivine
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder if there are similar differences between iOS (especially iPad) and Android apps too.

    • nico1982
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]but said the company isn't showing the same room to different users at different prices.[/quote<] Of course, that's just the next step.

      • sonofsanta
      • 7 years ago

      As Amazon have tried in the past (before going back on the idea after Internet Outrage)

      The aim of the seller is to price everything at the maximum a consumer is willing to pay. They will eventually work out how to do that and convince us it’s in our best interest.

        • sircharles32
        • 7 years ago

        Then I’m their worst nightmare.
        I’m patient and uncompromising.

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