7 years ago

Oyster.com makes play for travel agents, slaps Fodors, online travel agencies

Oyster.com, the website that dispatches journalists to write hotel reviews, is trying to position itself as a reliable, objective resource for travel agents.

“With more than 600 hotels reviewed and 200,000 pictures at their fingertips, travel agents benefit from a website that doesn’t build business relationships with the hotels it reviews  — offering an impartial, journalistic breath of fresh air to the Internet-savvy agent,” states Oyster in a press release today.

The website, which launched in 2009, woos travel agencies today, and also takes a slap at online travel agencies and Fodor’s.

“While Expedia, Orbitz and similar travel sites are good marketing and sales platforms for hotels, they’re unreliable resources for travel agents,” Oyster.com states. “In contrast, Oyster’s expert reviewers stay at each hotel anonymously, thoroughly evaluate and verify all of its features, and take hundreds of photos of everything from the stains on the carpet to the parties at the pool. The reviews on the site are even more reliable than popular travel guides like Fodor’s, who often leverage their status to book for free, giving hotels the opportunity to prepare for the visit.”

Specifically, Oyster states that one of its advantages for travel agents is that they can use its filters to sort search-results based on price, location and amenities — more than 50 features.

“In addition, Oyster.com offers GPS-coded data on all its hotels, including those in the Caribbean that don’t have street addresses,” the company says. “Using the GPS data, agents can see exactly where a hotel is located on a map, how far it is from the airport, golf courses, beaches, local attractions, or any other points of interest.”

There is one thing Oyster doesn’t mention in today’s press release.

Within the next couple of weeks, it plans on adding a hotel-booking component to its website and it will likely do so through a third-party inventory aggregator.

So that triggers the obvious question: When Oyster gets into the hotel-booking game — and it begins to compete against the travel agents it is reaching out to — will Oyster’s new relationship with hotels impact the objectivity of its professional reviews?

Let’s hope not.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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  1. Elcee

    Caution weekend travelers…while the objective reviews are helpful, the price quotes are not always what they seem and customer service isn’t available on the weekends! I booked a room in NYC through Oyster only to find out that I was not entitled to the room as quoted/confirmed by Oyster. Hotel management and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to resolve the issue. I was told that I may in fact either be moved to another room (downgraded) that properly reflects the price quoted or pay an additional charge for what the hotel considered an upgrade to reflect the room described. In either case, it was annoying to deal with after traveling so long to get to NYC, with family in tow…spent the four days wondering what I would ultimately pay or whether we would have to pack up our belongings to move to another room. The Hotel made us whole and honored the reservation but not without letting us know this is the fifth time they’ve have conflicting reservations with Oyster.

  2. Marc

    What’s finally the 3rd party booking system you chose? Why?

  3. Elie Seidman

    Thanks Elliott. I agree with you – we need more coverage. Coming soon.


  4. Ophir

    I agree with you, Elliott, that the question comes down to coverage, considering there are thousands and thousands of properties around the world – from hotels to B&B’s to hostels to rental properties to cruise ships. The list is on the verge of being endless.

    In my opinion, the local reporter aspect of Oyster will grow over time and rather than sending out reporters to each and every property, the site will rely more and more on locals.

    Another question that comes to mind is what about updates to Oystered (is that a word?) properties? The whole concept of reviewing a hotel can be quite tricky because really, what’s being provided is a snapshot of the property on the time continuum.

    This is actually what I like about TripAdvisor – that a hotel can go up and down on the scale at any time according to the reviews and ratings received by dozens if not hundreds of people. A single review does not necessarily crown a property or ruin its reputation.

  5. Elliott Ng

    I love the Oyster product…for the hotels that they actually cover. But coverage is an issue. What is Oyster doing to increase its coverage on hotels out there? What are its coverage goals?

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