Orbitz Just Knows Better
Gary Lemke, Chief Customer Advocate
(June 26, 2012)
This just in: Orbitz finds Mac users spend more a night on hotels than PC users so the online travel agency shows different, and sometimes costlier, travel options. As a front page article in today's Wall Street Journal there will be buzz. OK, by the time you read this, there already is buzz including new conversations about customer privacy, profiling, analytics, fairness, etc.
We will hear outrage, applause, and everything in between. However there really isn't much new news here when you look at what the online travel service has learned and what they are doing with the knowledge.
First, this is not about some supercomputer in the backroom crunching terabytes in order to spit out an epiphany. Orbitz already had the intuition that Mac users spent more than PC users. The data merely confirmed the intuition.
Second, the way Orbitz presents hotel options is no different than old-fashion retailing. For instance, someone visiting a jewelry store might be directed toward the higher-end watches if he is wearing a coat and tie.
In the end, Mac users were already booking more expensive hotels than PC users. All Orbitz is doing is making it easier for a segment of their customers to get what they came for.
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