As a hospitality marketing professional you and I both know we’re not. But even Seth Godin would be hard pressed to think otherwise after reading the press releases for the new, over-hyped online hotel review site Oyster.com.
Essentially, Oyster.com is a hotel review site that sends professionals to stay at and review individual hotels. Purported to have been in stealth mode for the past year or so, the site has gone public with a limited number of reviews covering hotels in New York, Miami, Jamaica, Aruba and the Dominican Republic.
To generate publicity CEO and founder Elie Seidman is taking on the 800 pound gorilla – TripAdvisor and the people who market the hotels his web site reviews.
Seidman is quoted as saying –
“There are tremendous differences between what our reporters bring back and the marketing distortions of the hotel industry.”
Did he just call us liars?
But wait, it gets better. Mr. Seidman goes on to say, “The vast majority of hotel descriptions and photos circulating on the Internet originates in the hotel’s own marketing departments and gets reproduced over and over as legitimate truth–but it’s often misleading.”
Armed with 10 professional reviewers who travel essentially full time and go to 60 to 70 hotels a year it looks like Oyster.com will post 600 to 700 new reviews a year. Based on those numbers it’s hard to imagine this new site will “fundamentally change the way people make hotel decisions” as he claims.
Let’s face it – it’s not going to happen. Simply put Oyster.com is just another traditional travel guide like AAA or Mobil that will soon carry outdated information based on one person’s opinion of one encounter with a hotel. But if Mr. Seidman was being truthful and said as much in his press releases he wouldn’t be getting nearly as much press coverage now would he? Could this be a case of the pot calling the kettle black?
If content is king then Oyster.com is not going to replace TripAdvisor or fundamentally change the way people make hotel decisions. While some like to complain about TripAdvisor, let’s face it – people use it, believe it and book millions of room nights based on its reviews.
Give your guests credit. They check a variety of sources and read multiple reviews (not just one) to formulate their opinions. And I’ll bet they would write a pretty accurate and truthful review of your hotel if you asked them to.
In the meantime, after reviewing the Oyster.com site I came away underwhelmed. A flash-in-the-pan perhaps?
Check it out and let me know what you think. Safe travels – Madigan Pratt
For other comments on Oyster.com check out: