Oyster.com, the lodging review and booking site, likes to skip the marketing shots in favor of realistic hotel photos and the website just implemented panoramic photos in a very big way.
Just take a look at this high-definition 360 degree ¬†panoramic image of L’Auberge de Sedona in Sedona, Arizona.
If you go to this link to view the above photo on Oyster.com and zoom out, you can pan all around the property, viewing the river and the back of the hotel at the far right and left.
Oyster has about a dozen of these panoramic photos on its site now and will be adding another couple of dozen in the next week or so as it dispatches its professional photojournalists to new hotels it is signing up.
Eytan Seidman, co-founder and vice president of product, says the L’Auberge de Sedona image actually was stitched together from about 125 photos.
The photographer took the photos using a Gigapan device with a camera mounted on top.
Oyster then used “stitching techology” from krpano¬†to create a seemless, panoramic viewing experience, Seidman says.
The hotel review site wrote about the panoramic photos and other new features in a blog post.
The company claims to be adding 200-300 hotels per month and will be giving some of these panoramic treatment for free.
Oyster doesn’t touch up the pix to make them more marketing-oriented, the company says.
Ariel Charyton, Oyster co-founder and president, claims Oyster’s panoramic images are more realistic than Jetsetter’s, a charge that leaves a Jetsetter spokeswoman somewhat perplexed.
“We fail to see how our photos are more marketing-oriented,” says Kellie Pelletier, a Jetsetter spokeswoman. “To me, both sites are providing a valuable service for users who want to see every nook and cranny of a great hotel room or roofdeck pool.”
You can judge for yourself. Take a look at this Jetsetter image of the Hotel on Rivington and click on this link to give it a try.
Charyton says Oyster will only give hotels the panoramic treatment when the exterior or interior lends itself to it, adding that sometimes consumers appreciate “linear” room photos, for instance.
Oyster has always sought to differentiate itself from online travel agencies, including Orbitz, when it comes to the realism of Oyster’s photography and it recently launched photo-led search for hotel rooms.
Ironically, Oyster has begun to run 15-second TV commercials on the Travel Channel, which invested $10 million in Oyster in April, ¬†and the spots are basically text-only, with no vacation photography.
The theme is Oyster, the “hotel tell-all.”
Take a look: