It's too Chineasy for hotels to trick consumers

28 October 2010

Oyster.com is a travel website that infiltrates hotels posing as regular customers, and spend their time snooping about, taking photographs and piecing together honest reviews of rooms, restaurants and resorts.

As a result of this, they've a good idea when the pictures in the brochure are only a distant reflection of real life. It's the job of marketing departments to sell their hotels, of course, but most consumers would expect that hotel to be on a planet loosely orbiting a star called Fact.

So here's Hotel 91 in New York City, straight from the homepage of the hotel's website:

Bitterwallet - Hotel 91, New York City

And here's the reality:

Bitterwallet - Hotel 91, New York City 2

In fact, Hotel 91 is in Chinatown - a vibrant neighbourhood and well worth a visit, but clearly a fact that will put some tourists off.

As an aside, it's not just the hotels that manipulate the consumer's impression of them. In their initial search, Hotels.com lists Hotel 91 as being in the Soho / Tribeca / Lower East Side neighbourhood:

Bitterwallet - Hotels.com description of Hotel 91

Tribeca is at the opposide side of Manhattan to Chinatown, but Hotels.com have been careful with their broad descriptions to ensure they sound as attractive as possible.

You can see plenty more examples of creative photography and Photoshop skills on display on Oyster.com's website.

[Oyster.com]

TOPICS:   Travel   Technology

23 comments

  • The B.
    If you want to find out what it's like use tripadvisor (don't trust anything with less than 10 reviews where the reviewers have only written 1 review), if you want to find out where it is, paste the postcode into google maps, if you want to see what it looks like, use streetview, it's not rocket science is it?
  • bob
    Am I the only one who can't see a problem here? One picture was taken at night, one in daylight. Nothing sinister here
  • Michael
    Business in "trying to market itself in positive light" shocker
  • pauski
    ^agreed - looks like the same hotel. Either that or the attention to detail (like the spot lights) in the copy is incredible.
  • darkspark88
    How are they tricking customers? The differences here literally are day and night.
  • Darren
    I'm not entirely confortable with this article. I'm detecting an undercurrent of racism, from the title and the content of the article itself.
  • Matt
    Its the same hotel in each picture but taken at different times of day! Tribeca is right next to Chinatown not the opposite side of Manhattan. In fact Soho, Tribeca and Lower East side pretty much surround Chinatown so the description isnt so misleading.
  • DragonChris
    Actually, whilst it is the same hotel in both pictures, they have removed/photoshopped the Chinese lettering in the top picture (to mask the fact of the real location). The colouring also looks a little suspect (the black in the top vs the gold colour in the bottom - that's just my opinion though) I think the greater issue as highlighted by BW is that they falsely advertise the location etc. Whilst I and most of you would obviously do some homework before booking a hotel (not simply taking the advertisement at face value) I'm sure there are others who don't.
  • LanceVamce
    How dare they take a picture at night! The dirty, filthy lying bastards!! I'll never go on a trip again!!!
  • Matt
    I think it's the fact that the day time image has chinese writing on the signage and the night time one does not....
  • Ross
    Nothing wrong with it. Bitterwallet out of ideas ?
  • Dungavel
    What was the time difference between the hotel taking the photo and the reviewer at Oyster.com. Whose to say that between the original photo and the one the reviewer took their wasn't a change sign. Further, has anyone actually been on oyster.com, the majority of the 'fakes' are people taking photos in different rooms or at different times of the year or at different angles. Some of their criticisms are valid , however the majority lack any form of common sense and are pretty moronic.
  • RobS
    Ummm reading this was a bit like reading a Daily Mail article.
  • Nobby
    So it's an internet site where people take photos when hotels look at their worst and slag them off. Of course the owners want it to look good, they take their publicity shots at the best time of day, or when they have just been decorated, or when nobody is around. Estate agents normally take photos at particular angles, or using a wide angle lens to get as much in as possible. Same deal.
  • david
    Erm. It appears to me that the hotel merely got a new sign - other than that, the photo looks the same just taken at night. I don't really see the problem with that. As for the location, have you tried Priceline where you bid for hotels........ some of them are pretty vague, but I don't see any article written about that! I just checked who wrote the article, I knew it would be the ITwat himself.
  • erm_excuse_me
    So the Chinese script isn't lit at night...nothing wrong with that.
  • bob
    Actually, I'd say it's possible that the "HOTEL 91" bit lights up at night, while the chinese writing doesn't. No new sign, no Photoshoppery, no story
  • bob
    And I'd say that the person who took the second picture did exactly what this story is complaining about, but in opposite - they've tried to make it look as bad as possible by including parking signs, the arse end of a truck and a fat bloke.
  • Nobby
    It would probably cost a fortune in lights to go all round the chinky characters. And they would probably not be readable anyway if outlined, since the outline is quite wide compared to the size of the lettering. The gaps between the bottom of the H and the bottom of the sign appear to be about the same in both versions, when you bear in mind the lights are outline (and so the text appears bigger).
  • bob p.
    The first image is photoshopped. You can tell because the Hotel 91 text is too big - as wide as he distance between the two pots/vases. Not to mention the fact the photo is taken at a slight angle while the (added) text is perfectly straight. In the second, real, image, the sign is clearly smaller. Again, look at it in comparison to the pots. Having said that, who cares. Its very difficult to take a photo of a building square on without expensive camera equipment and/or Photoshop, so you may as well do as they did and add the text.
  • Paul S.
    Darren - "Chineasy" is a play on words. It's not racist by any definition, calm down. And the fact is that some people will be put off staying in Chinatown, because that's not their perception of New York - or because they are racist. Matt - Tribeca is on the opposite side of Manhattan to Chinatown, and SoHo is a very distinct neighbourhood, and gives a potential customer a very different perception of its location. Tribeca and SoHo conjure up images of polished tenements, New York Shopping and converted lofts - not markets where you can watch fish being gutted. At best you could describe Chinatown as the Lower East Side since that's geographically where Chinatown is - but then nobody in New York would because the LES is also a neighbourhood in its own right. Everyone else - the hotel is in Chinatown. The point is a photo has been chosen (or manipulated) to give the impression it's not. No, I know it doesn't come as a shock.
  • Laurz
    @photogrammetrist - I've seen this hotel, I remember the vases in the window. Pretty sure it had a black sign with Hotel91 in big letters on it. Looks like theyve whipped the old sign down and put up a new one. The utter bastards
  • Kevin
    The point is that the original photo is giving an impression of smartness and quality and although obviously at night the fact that there are trucks parking outside doesn't help give a good impression of the place. I have used Oyster, looking at a hotel in NY before I went and it helped massively. It gave a true repesentation of the hotel as it actually was. Which was pretty good actually! I find sites like this useful when you are looking at the bits that the hotel sites don't show. Not just bad bits that they would hide, but non exciting things like corridors, washing facilities and different angles of rooms. This is the sort of thing that helps when you want a good overall idea of the place. Streetview is very useful but in some places I have looked at it is woefully out of date and would give you a totally different point of view. For example you'd look on Streetview and find an empty hole where you hotel actually is as the pictures are 3 years old! This happens in London as well where shops especially (obviously) are totally different but even big areas are totally different now, whether that's different traffic flow, roads closed off to traffic or buildings demolished. If you look at Oxford Circus it's got all the building work there, not the very nice new crossing system that's been there for a year now. I know it's only a year but in major areas you'd think it would be easy to whizz round the main shopping streets of London occasionally.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment