In her 30 years working as a travel agent, Judy Hamilton of Jackie's Travel Inc. in Ancaster, has learned a thing or two about people and about dealing with clients.
"I always investigate," she says. "Sometimes the ones with the fanciest rings can be looking for the least expensive [holidays]. You can never judge. Never."
Tell that to online travel agency Orbitz Worldwide, whose study of their users' booking habits has the company judging a traveller by their computer make, reports Reuters. The company, which owns Orbitz, CheapTickets, ebookers, and RatesToGo, found that Mac users are 40 per cent more likely to book a four or five star hotel room than their PC counterparts. The study also says that when booking in the same hotel, Mac users are more likely to opt for more expensive rooms than PC users, and that Mac users generally tend to spend up to 30 per cent more on hotel rooms than do PC users.
As a result, Orbitz is experimenting with showing different hotel room options to Mac and PC users, says Reuters. Mac users will sometimes be shown more expensive hotel room options. But when shown the same room, both Mac and PC users will see the same price.
The question is: Is this Orbitz data really surprising? As mentioned in the original Wall Street Journal story:
"The average household income for adult owners of Mac computers is $98,560, compared with $74,452 for a PC owner, according to Forrester."
It might also stand to reason that this is why Mac users are prepared to pay more when purchasing a computer. But does that mean they'll be willing to pay a premium when booking travel, as well?
Not according to Hannah Miet from The Atlantic who points out that while it makes sense, from an advertising standpoint, to target a demographic who appear to be big-spenders, it's dangerous to paint all Mac users with the same brush.
"What about those of us who irresponsibly purchased our iPhones on credit, have only been 'directors' of our own unemployment, and are only looking for the cheapest roadside motel in Devils Lake, North Dakota?" she asks.
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Hamilton makes the same point when she argues that it would be irresponsible for her to assume any one particular client wants any one particular kind of holiday. She asks questions, and tries to get to know her clients and their interests.
"When I first started out in the business, someone would walk in with mucky boots and overalls, looking for a holiday," she says. "And I kind of steered him one way and he ended up booking a Yangtze River cruise in China. So that's a lesson — you can never judge by their looks … what they're willing to spend."