Emerging Technology

Hotel booking site does a Kogan, starts showing Mac users more expensive options

Patrick Stafford /

First it was tech entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan telling shoppers they’d be charged more for using outdated technology, and now an American company has followed suit – offering Mac users more shopping options.

Hotel booking site Orbitz has apparently discovered that Mac users tend to spend more – as much as 30% more – and so it has started showing them different options.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the program is only in its early stages, but the company is basing the plan on evidence that Mac users spend on average up to $20 or $30 more a night on hotels compared to people who use PC.

“We had the intuition, and we were able to confirm it based on the data,” Orbitz chief technology officer Roger Liew told the publication.

The plan began in October and since then the company has been working with more complicated product mixes.

This comes just weeks after Ruslan Kogan announced a new “tax” for users who shop with Internet Explorer 7, an outdated piece of browsing software. Kogan justified the charge by saying it paid for the extra time and cost associated with coding the site for the outdated software – and developers who spoke to SmartCompany agreed with that premise.

Dividing products for Windows and Mac users is different altogether, but according to Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip, it is nothing new.

“We’ve seen this from the very early days of ecommerce, when deals were based on different and segmented data. It’s just the next manifestation of what’s already been going on.”

Technology allowing small businesses to view who comes to their website with different browsers, operating systems and mobile devices is simple, and easy to access, although many ignore it or don’t even know it exists. However, as Orbitz shows, it can provide a treasure trove of data.

“Obviously, it’s just easier to do now with technology being so good, and there’s also the publicity angle as well,” says Yip.

“To me, it’s just consumer segmentation and a sign of the times where you can put the exact product in front of the people you want.”

It’s obviously working, with Orbitz saying it may even move into car rentals and flight bookings as well.

But Yip says for other businesses thinking about similar stunts, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing, you can’t just implement these types of practices and not expect people to find out.

“It’s the responsibility of the site or business to communicate any of this in a way that puts the customer first. So this isn’t just about people who use Macs a lot, but looking at a way to better the customer base overall.

“We’re living in a very connected world now, and people are becoming a lot more selective in the ways they are browsing. You need to help put the right deals in front of the right faces – but it needs to be appropriate.

“Always target the right people, with the right products.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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