Mac users paying more than PC users on Orbitz, study indicates

Artist's rendition of the Apple logo.

If you use one of these computers, expect to pay more on Orbitz. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/ZyMOS/Wikipedia)

Popular online travel booking website Orbitz bills itself as being a cheap way for consumers to make bargain travel plans from the comfort of home. However, Mac computer users have found that their travel plans are coming at a premium when compared with PC users. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mac users who look to book hotel stays via Orbitz are paying as much as 30 percent more per night, sometimes for very similar accommodations.

Orbitz and the Apple tax?

Reports from various sources indicate that Orbitz searches on Mac computers are beginning to direct users to different hotels than PC users, and sometimes these hotels are more expensive. Executives of Orbitz Worldwide have told the Wall Street Journal that the average Orbitz visitor of late who books a hotel reservation with a Macintosh computer is spending 30 percent more per night.

This tends to occur even on near-identical Orbitz searches. For example, with identical searches performed on the Orbitz website with both Apple and PC devices, Mac and iPad users were 40 percent more likely to be directed toward four- and five-star hotels. Some pundits have quipped that having a Mac instead of a PC is a sign of more refined tastes, and since the Mac costs more, then the consumer likely has more money to spend on a top hotel. Yet the near “bait and switch” nature of the pumped up prices for similar or the same accommodations as what PC users can access have many upset.

According to Orbitz CE Barney Harford, Orbitz is merely using data culled from millions of daily searches in order to construct “personalized recommendations.”

“We can use that information to influence which hotels we recommend to users we see searching on a Mac or an iPad versus a PC,” he wrote in a newspaper editorial.

Competition denies use of OS data

The top page of Orbitz search results are key, noted Harford, because 90 percent of all Orbitz customers book based upon the first page of results. In fact, 50 percent of customers choose one of the first five hotel choices presented. While the exact same results returned by Orbitz searches on Mac and PC aren’t priced differently, Mac users have been receiving more expensive hotel options in their top five search results.

Representatives from Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity all indicated that their travel booking websites do not use information about a customer’s operating system to suggest hotels.

An 11 percent hike

Investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that overall, Mac users have been paying 11 percent more to book hotels on Orbitz than PC users.

The predictive analysis Orbitz uses to tailor its offerings to target customer groups is not all that different than general data mining used by various websites, but in the case of Mac versus PC use on Orbitz, there is a household income variable on Mac that reportedly doesn’t exist on the other side, notes CBC News. Forrester Research data indicates that the average adult household income for Mac users is $24,000 higher than PC users.

CBS This Morning report on Orbitz scandal


CBC News

Wall Street Journal

Washington Post

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