Elitist Mac users?

Apparently the data collected by the online travel site Orbitz indicates that Mac users tend to spend more on hotels than PC users.

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.

As a consequence those who use Macs to browse accommodations are steered to pricier options. This puts Mac users who tend to seek budget accommodations (of which I am one) in a quandary. Do we have to seek out friends with PCs in order to do our searches?

We are bombarded with ads in our lives and marketers are constantly seeking more accurate profiles of us in order to pitch those products that we are most likely to buy. But this news shows that the system is far from perfect and made a mistake in my case. This is always the danger of using weak correlations to generate stereotypes.

But the question of why Mac users are more likely to seek pricier hotel options is an interesting question.


  1. says

    But the question of why Mac users are more likely to seek pricier hotel options is an interesting question.

    If I had to guess a Mac is a bit more of a luxery item then a computer and are usually priced higher. More budget oriented people might be more likely to buy a windows computer. This sampling bias could then continue into other purchases like hotels. Just my 2cents and I’m willing to be proven wrong.

  2. says

    One small thing is that, among computers, Macs are not the budget option. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that someone who is willing to spend a bit extra in one arena would do the same in another, at least on average.

  3. unbound says

    I think michaeld and Andy have the correct answer. A Mac costs about 50% more than the average Dell PC (and there are cheaper options than Dell) when you compare spec to spec. For the budget conscience, a Mac isn’t something to pick up lightly…and the budget conscience will behave the same way in most aspects of their life (hotels, restaurants, etc).

  4. slc1 says

    Not being much of an expert on the internet but how does the web site at Orbitz know what kind of computer is being used? Suppose, for instance, someone is running Windows on a MAC?

  5. unbound says

    Your browser sends some info to each site you visit which includes things like OS and browser. So, if you are running Windows on a Mac it would be reported as a Windows computer in the website stats.

    Web stats are not perfectly accurate. However, given the sheer volume of traffic involved, exceptions like someone running Windows on a Mac would only affect the stats by less than 1%.

  6. Blattafrax says

    Another possibility: Anyone prepared to pay 50-100% more for a piece of electronics based on its shininess* is definitely going to want a hotel with as many stars as possible.

    *No, of course I’m not talking about _you_ dear reader, I’m overgeneralising. You chose your Mac because of the features and the intuitive user interface.

  7. slc1 says

    So if I were running Windows under Parallels on a MAC, the web site could tell whether I was accessing it using Firefox for Windows or Firefox for MAC.

  8. todd says

    Just change your User-Agent setting in your browser. I’m pretty sure Safari has this ability. Of course, most browsers send a crap load of additional data beyond User-Agent, which makes it pretty easy to figure out you are a liar.

    If you really want to cover your tracks, use VirtualBox to run an obscure Linux distro (meaning not Ubuntu, Fedora, or OpenSUSE) and browse over VPN.

    And if you are really, really paranoid about ordering that one way plane ticket to Minot, ND or Shreveport, LA, I’d go with cURL through a TOR exit. Of course, Orbitz will blow your cover to the Feds long before you get to the airport to remove your shoes.

  9. Kevin says

    The most likely cause, in my opinion, of Mac users spending more on hotels, on average: “The average household income for adult owners of Mac computers is $98,560, compared with $74,452 for a PC owner, according to Forrester [Research].” (From the original link.) Let’s try not to confuse correlation with causation!
    Also: “The goal is to tailor offerings to people believed to have the highest “lifetime value” to the retailer.” I don’t know how others will react, but personally, if someone is trying to sell me more expensive stuff based solely on what kind of computer I use, I’ll shop somewhere else (especially if it’s as simple as going to a different travel web site). We don’t need to seek out friends with PCs; we need to seek out different vendors. I don’t think this helps their lifetime value.
    By the way, the data don’t show that Mac users spend more on hotels; they show that Mac users who book hotels through Orbitz spend more (on average) on hotels; this is perhaps a significant difference, considering the point about lifetime value.

  10. says

    The information is self-reported by the user agent (browser). Assuming you haven’t manually manipulated it, browsers in a virtual machine will appear to the site just as though there were running on a native system.

    Obviously, there’s a serious issue in treating any kind of self-reported data as wholly objective. However, because of the typical ignorance on how to lie in this case, the data usually has pretty good accuracy.

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