6 years ago

Oyster takes shot at travel photo search and bookings

You’ve heard of in-app bookings so how about hotel bookings launched right from a property photo?

That’s what Oyster.com rolled out today with its Oyster Shots photo-powered hotel search.

For example, users can merely click on a trending photo category such as “beaches,” select a photo for Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, Calif., and then book a room right from the photo on Oyster.com.


Of course, you can also enter a text query to access photo-led search results and Oyster provides auto-suggest functionality as you are typing your query to speed the process. The auto-suggest features looks like this:


So, if you start typing “Santa Monica p” then you will see auto-suggested choices such as “Santa Monica and Venice, Los Angeles +pool” or “Santa Monica and Venice, Los Angeles +Premier Room” to speed your query.

Eytan Seidman, Oyster co-founder and vice president of product, says Oyster tags each photo and leverages data about each image in its database to retrieve relevant results.

Each image contains GPS data such as latitude and longitude;  the hotel name; and the part of the hotel where the photo was taken (pool, lobby, guest room), for example.

On top of that data, Oyster then layers editorial data about the property such as whether it can be classified as a “party hotel” or a “luxury hotel,” Seidman adds.

“We have all that data across all the photos,” Seidman says. “We algorithmically match queries to the underlying photos to bring you relevant results.”

When you plug in your check-in and checkout dates, you also get real-time availability information, Seidman says.

Oyster also literally stores about 20 resolutions of each image so it can match the proper image to the monitor size, whether it be an iPad, a smartphone or a PC, Seidman says.

For its hotel photography portfolio, Oyster prides itself on avoiding marketing photos submitted by the hotels.

“Too often, hotel guests are misled by doctored marketing photos, which leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction in accommodations,” says Elie Seidman, cofounder and CEO. “Oyster Shots lets our visitors see exactly what to expect before it’s too late so there are no unpleasant surprises — just perfect vacations.”

Perfect vacations or not, Oyster offers journalist-written hotel reviews for a couple of dozen destinations around the world.

And, the company apparently is going to make a big push with Oyster Shots. The website’s We’re Hiring! sectioin lists more than a dozen job opening for photographers in destinations from Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, to Madrid and Bermuda.

Bing Travel, too, offers visual search, integrated from Bing, and replete with auto-suggest functionality.

But when you select the Bing Travel gallery for Las Vegas hotels and then click on a photo of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, for example, you navigate out of Bing Travel to Bing.com and away from any transactional capabilities.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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    […] Oyster takes shot at travel photo search and bookings […]

  2. Jonathan Alford

    tough crowd, Dennis 🙂

  3. Michael

    I don’t get it.

    Just when I thought that the Hipmunk Wifi post was the weirdest “news” ever, I read all that just because Oyster succeeded in putting a booking form above a picture as well as adding an autocomplete script to their search?

    It’s 2011.

    • Tom Malthus

      Maybe the reason you “don’t get it” is because you never bothered to venture outside the article and see what it’s actually talking about. I get it though, it’s hard to navigate there on a Blackberry and you don’t have good service there in the bathroom.

      It’s 2011 – when you’re done being a mindless hater why not get off the crapper and actually check out the site that you’re attempting to comment on.

      • Michael

        For Oyster.com I just hope that you are an ex employee trying to give them a bad reputation in a creative way.

        I even wasted 1.5 minutes of my life watching the video. And I still don’t get what is so special about your search. Refering to your (weird) softporn reference: adult sites offer image searches via tags since 1998.

        Your amateur attempt at a fuzzy search is that you remove the trailing “s”? That’s just laughable and try it with a search for something like “las vegas balconies” which is then interpreted as “las vegas balconie” with no results of course? Just sad. (and for sure more 1997 than 2011)

        You don’t filter images that look almost the same? Just sad. The general search doesn’t work with the tags at all? Just sad.

        What is so special about having a boking form above an image? You don’t even try to explain?

        Regarding your “crapper” comment: It’s a nightmare to surf Oyster.com on a smartphone. But I expect your “ready for mobile” announcement in 2017.

  4. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Andrew: What did we guys fall for? I personally would rather see some imperfect, yet realistic photography of a hotel than some canned, PhotoShopped and unrealistic pics of a resort or hotel pool.

    I don’t see Oyster criticizing resort photographers, but hotel and online travel agency websites which rely on marketing photos.

  5. Andrew Ptak

    As a resort photographer, one of the people that Oyster criticize, my response is that they take the worst photos possible. It’s all part of a trick to hype their own website. Guess you folks fell for it.

    • Tom Malthus

      What a surprise, a “resort photographer” who, wait for it, makes his living off photographing resorts, isn’t a fan of the website that also photographs resorts. Shocker.

      If you really feel that threatened then why not go check out their jobs page, apparently they’re hiring.

      By the way, your “resort photography” looks like a mix between an episode of Baywatch and some 80s softcore porn.


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