My wife and I love to travel. We have a tight budget and always use various travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline to find the best bang for our buck on hotels and airfare. When planning for our trip we both go on-line and look at places we want to stay. Almost every time she comes up with nicer, more expensive hotels and I usually pick somewhere less expensive and closer to our budget. I always just assumed that was due to the cheapskate in me, and most of it probably is. However, according to Orbitz, there may be another reason for that.

The reason? Well, she’s a Mac, and I’m a PC – have been for a long time and probably will be for a while to come. Orbitz confirmed recently that the company is experimenting with showing different, and sometimes costlier, hotel options to Mac users than PC users. By tracking people’s on-line activities from their site, Orbitz has found that people who use Mac computers spend 30% more a night on hotels. They found that Mac users are 40% more likely to book a 4 or 5 star hotel than PC users as well as spend on average $20 to $30 more a night than their PC counterparts. Furthermore, when Mac and PC users book a room at the same hotel, Mac users are more likely to stay in a more expensive room.

This sort of data mining is becoming more and more popular as on-line retailers are trying to better understand buying habits and identify new ways they can monitor users’ browsing data to help boost on-line sales. More and more, Orbitz, and other on-line retailers, are using so-called predictive analytics to guess future shopping preferences for customers and target those believed to have the highest “lifetime value.”

According to a recent study by Forrester Research, almost half of retailers said users of tablets, specifically iPads, tend to place bigger on-line orders than users of laptops and desktops. Furthermore, shoppers on iPhones outspend shoppers using Android or Blackberry devices. The study also found that the average household income for adult owners of Macs is $98,560, compared to the average PC household with only $74,452.

I am sure many other companies have already begun to utilize the same data mining techniques to identify preferences for car rentals, flights, and a ton of other products. I think I will stick with my PC and (try to) spend less.
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Nick Haneiko

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