The Wall Street Journal writes that "Orbitz Worldwide, Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.'s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see."
By now, everyone has read and/or experienced something relating to the the use of predictive analytics. Most notably, we've seen the results of tracking done by Facebook, Google and Amazon.com. We've all noticed those tailored ads appearing in our search results, to the right of our Facebook page and in our Amazon.com searches.
Orbitz is now demonstrating how tracking the fact that people are visiting their website from a Mac can lead to predictions about tastes and spending habits. The assumption is that Mac users have higher income levels and spend more money.
"Orbitz executives confirmed that the company is experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors, but said the company isn't showing the same room to different users at different prices." Users may also choose to rank results by price.
Mac users are spending an average of $20 to $30 more a night on hotels than PC users which is substantial when you consider the site's average nightly hotel booking is about $100, chief scientist Wai Gen Yee said. Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four-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.
"We had the intuition, and we were able to confirm it based on the data," Orbitz Chief Technology Officer Roger Liew said. It will be interesting to see if these efforts boost Orbitz's 2012 earnings. It lost $37 million in 2011 and its stock has fallen by more than 74% since its 2007 IPO.
What do you think about this use of predictive analytics? Do you feel this is a privacy violation? Will you take steps to perform searches differently now that you are aware this is happening?