Orbitz Gets Backlash for Harmless Personalization

View from the Wing gives a good explanation as to why it is okay that Orbitz is showing different hotel properties to Mac users vs. PC.

If you follow me on twitter, then you saw me getting my feathers all ruffled by the backlash against Orbitz:

a screenshot of a social media post

Basically, the story here is that Orbitz found that Mac users tend to prefer 4 and 5 star hotels vs. PC users.  So they try to personalize the recommendations based on whether you use a Mac or PC.  People using a Mac tend to be recommended more expensive properties because they tend to book more expensive properties.  But they can find whatever properties they want on the site.  The same thing for a PC user who may be miffed that Orbitz would assume they would stay in a “lowly” three star.

I personally like the trend in websites towards personalization.  My google searches, amazon recommendations and even banner ads are fueled by my behavior.  This is just one more website in that category.

But this event got branded somehow as Orbitz charging Mac users more for bookings.  This is simply not true.  This ire should not be directed towards Orbitz at all.  But I can give you some targets to direct that ire towards.

Frequent Fliers at Delta were charged more when logged into their accounts.

Hotwire had charged Firefox users a few more dollars per transaction that their IE counterparts.

I’ve also noticed GroundLink’s coupon codes inconsistently applying depending on whether I was logged in or not (which could be a bug or intentional!)

But let’s frame the Orbitz situation correctly.  They did not decide to charge Mac users more.  They just changed their recommendations.  Mac users can purchase whatever they want.


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. The editor who allowed this story to press should be reprimanded. Horrific journalism.

    • I agree. It was sensationalism over a non-issue. He publicly spoke about this practice in the beginning of May, so it isn’t even breaking news!

  2. I think pc uses will figure out they are being profiled as being cheep skates and complain too.

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