Home Hotels How Hotels Try To Fool You Into Making A Reservation (And How To Combat It)

How Hotels Try To Fool You Into Making A Reservation (And How To Combat It)

by SharonKurheg

Hotels are in the business of getting people to stay at their properties overnight. One way for them to do this is to present themselves in a way that makes them look as appealing as possible. Unfortunately, that sometimes means making themselves look not a whole lot like their respective realities.

Oyster.com is a hotel review and booking website that does things a little differently than Tripadvisor and Hotels.com. They’ve been around for about a decade and don’t amass reviews from former hotel guests who may or may not be telling the truth. Instead, they have a staff of full-time professional reviewers who stay in these hotels incognito. These reviewers also personally photograph the hotels, in order to show what they really look like, instead of using the stylized promo shots that are sent to them.

The differences between the reviewers’ photos and the promo shots have sometimes been so ridiculous that Oyster has periodically posted “Photo Fakeouts,” to show its readers the differences between the two. Here are a few of those photos, as well as ways to you not be faked out when looking for a hotel.

Ava Hotel (Athens, Greece)

L = Outdoor photo provided by Ava Hotel, R = Photo taken by Oyster.
It’s not nearly as close to the Acropolis as they’d like have you think.

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 11.45.29 PM.png

Hotel Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain)

L = Bedroom photo provided by Hotel Sagrada Familia. R = Photo taken by Oyster
Careful – that king or queen-sized bed may actually be two twins, side by side.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 12.06.22 AM

Inn at Seaside (Seaside, Oregon, U.S.A.)

L = Pool photo provided by Inn at Seaside. R = Photo taken by Oyster.
Amazing what a change in angle can tell about how big a pool actually is, huh?

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 11.56.25 PM

Sandals Carlyle Beach (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

L = photo provided by Sandals Carlyle Beach. R = Photo taken by Oyster.
The hotel’s photo would make you think you had access to a beautiful, deserted beach. Oyster’s photo pretty much sets you straight on what that beach was really like.

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 11.50.47 PM

Big differences, huh?

How can you combat this?

Obviously, you can’t stop hotels from posting photos of their properties that haven’t been staged or touched up. But there are a few ways to get a better idea of what the place(s) in question really looks like…

Oyster.com would be an excellent place to start (I think that one is pretty obvious LOL).

When you’re looking at a hotel review site such as Trip Advisor, you’ll be able to see, not only the photos that the hotel sent but also “Traveler” photos. Like these shots of the Pocono Plaza Inn:

“Double room with two double beds” (Dec. 2017, provided by Management)

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 12.37.57 AM

“Furniture was trashed. This is what it looked like when we arrived” (July 2018, provided by a guest)
Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 12.38.34 AM

“The front desk response: ‘The water looks like that at full capacity, Keep running the water.'” (February, 2017, provided by a guest)

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 12.45.53 AM.png

Sometimes one’s research of hotels needs to go way beyond how many points it costs, huh?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Tkies Travel November 13, 2019 - 5:03 am

hahaha! LOL! that how we became fool .

Thanks for sharing the reality.

Reel vs Real.

Island Miler April 13, 2021 - 9:24 pm

Oyster has long been one of my go-to’s for researching hotels, along with the usuals like TripAdvisor (with a grain of salt, of course). But, i’m not sure Oyster is quite as incognito as they claim to be anymore. I noticed that, especially here in Hawaii, they have a tendency to ask the property manager for access to multiple rooms during a stay – or just access to photograph rooms and not stay at all. They’re still reliable for true photos, but I miss their more detailed evaluations when they do this.


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