Hotels, Technology|

Orbitz Led Mac Users to Pricier Hotels

Orbitz LogoOrbitz Worldwide has discovered that Apple computer users spend up to 30% more on hotel nights. This is why the company has started to show them different and more expensive hotel rooms and travel options compared to PC users. This effort is in the early stages and shows how tracking the online activities of web users can use seemingly harmless information to predict their spending habits and preferences.

Executives at Orbitz have confirmed that they are experimenting with showing different hotel rooms to PC and Mac visitors. However, the company says it’s not showing them the same rooms at different prices. They have also noted that users can choose to sort their hotel search results by price.

Chief scientist Wai Gen Yee says the experimentation comes after the company found that Mac users spend an average $20 to $30 more for a hotel night compared to their PC counterparts. This is a big margin considering the average nightly hotel booking is about $100. Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four- or five-star accommodation. They have found that, when the different computer users book the same hotel, those using a Mac tend to choose more expensive rooms. He added that they may start to test if Mac users have preferences for flight and car hire bookings as well, but they are only looking at hotels at the moment.

Orbitz chief executive Barney Harford has made digging for data a priority. The former Expedia executive opened a small office in California shortly after joining the online travel agent in 2009. Then he recruited statisticians with backgrounds working for Google and eBay, creating a new analytics team.

Orbitz chief technology officer Roger Liew said they had the intuition and were able to confirm this based on data. The analytics team found that some hotels were much more likely to be booked by Mac users, with almost half of Orbitz bookings for the Public Chicago being made by Mac Visitors. This venue is a high-end hotel that boasts features like lobby socialising. Other factors are more influential than others, including the location of the user and their history on the site. The overall popularity and promotions at a hotel also influence Mac users. Still, Mac use can influence results, he added.

The first time Orbitz confirmed preferences of Mac users was in October. Then it started working them into a complicated mix of factors that determine search results. The company says the integration is still in its formative phases and isn’t noticeable across the site. The effort is likely to become more common across all industries, as online retailers try to identify new ways to use browsing data to boost sales. The effort underlines how retailers are using so-called predictive analytics more and more, using data to guess the future of shopping habits.

Businesses are just beginning to look at if Mac users may exhibit similar characteristics. The goal is to tailor offerings to people who are believed to be the highest lifetime value for retailers. According to Forrester, the average household income for adult owners of PC computers is $74,452, compared to $98,560 for Mac users. A Forrester and study also revealed that almost half of retailers say tablet users – many of which are iPads – tend to order more than desktop or laptop users. Additionally, International Business Machines has found that iPhone users account for half of all mobile purchases.




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