Turns out it’s showing you spendier hotel rooms. Cue the Rockwell - I always feel like Orbitz is watching meeeee! The company tells the Wall Street Journal it is making some use of data mining, and the hotel rooms you see on its site are in part determined by the computer you’re on. If you use a Mac, you're more likely to be served up more expensive hotel room on your room search - as much as 30% more a night. THANKS ONLINE TACKING! From the Journal:
Orbitz found Mac users on average spend $20 to $30 more a night on hotels than their PC counterparts, a significant margin given the site's average nightly hotel booking is around $100, chief scientist Wai Gen Yee said. Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four- or five-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.
It’s not just what kind of computer you’re on that determines what hotel offers you see though. Among other things, the site also takes into account where you are when you log in, what site you were on before you came to Orbitz. Again from the Journal:
If a shopper enters Orbitz through Kayak.com, which aggregates offers from travel sites, it might indicate a user is more sensitive about price than a visitor coming from review-focused Trip-Advisor, who may be more interested in hotel ratings.
I wonder if there's any way to tell Orbitz I'm searching for prices using a Commadore 64 with Wi-Fi enabled via coat hanger antena from the alley behind a Starbucks.