Orbitz CEO Barney Harford goes on warpath against Wall Street Journal over Mac article
The article claims the online travel agency is serving hotel search results to Mac users with sometimes a 30% markup compared to PC users.
Whilst Orbitz does not dispute claims that different content is served to customers based on the operating system of the device they are using, CEO Barney Harford has come out strongly and slammed the WSJ for the article, saying it is “nonsense that we’d charge Mac users more for the same hotel”.
Research by Orbitz has found that Mac users are 40% more likely to book four or five star hotels compared to PC users, Harford says.
The CEO even turned to Twitter yesterday, in an attempt to play down the article.
In a statement today, adds:
“That [is] just one of many factors that determine which hotels to recommend a given customer as part of our efforts to show customers the most relevant hotels possible.”
The WSJ is giving the “wrong impression” to readers, Harford says. He goes on to criticise the paper for initially putting the vast majority of the story behind its usual paywall, “so the world is reacting to a confusing headline”.
“The WSJ is steering users to pay more to be able to read the full article and understand what’s actually happening.”
Inevitably, since Harford’s statement was released the WSJ has removed the subscription paywall and the article is now available in full.
The information Orbitz has gleaned about the buying habits of certain types of computer users allows it to, after receiving search queries and forming results, “personalise that list by taking into account factors such as whether we see that the user using a Mac or a PC”, according to a recent article Harford authored for USA Today.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.