Macs are more expensive than PCs and tend to be used by a more rarefied and appealing demographics (better educated, more disposable income), so it’s inevitable that online shopping by Mac users is different than online shopping by PC users. Orbitz noticed that the people accessing their site from Macs pay, on average, 30% more than people accessing from PCs, and are 40% more likely to book 4- and 5-star hotels.
You really didn’t think that data like that would remain unexploited, did you?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Orbitz is using basic tracking information to steer people towards vacations based on data like computer type and browsing habits. They aren’t quoting different prices for the same hotel (yet), but they are listing more expensive hotels first. The user can reorder this ranking by price (lowest to highest, highest to lowest), but of course there the first items in any list are the ones that draw the most attention. (Most people on Google never make it past the first page of search results.)
As the recession impacts companies (Orbitz lost $37 million last year) expect to see them reaching for more “creative” (ie: creepy and privacy-invading) methods to improve their bottom line. Most users are completely unaware of how much information can be extracted by data mining. which can determine browsing habits, OS, and other information every time you go to a web site.
Read the whole report at the Wall Street Journal.