A new hotel review website has launched, promising travelers independent reviews from professional journalists who visited the properties anonymously.
The site, Oyster.com, is in some ways a 21st century version of the AAA and Mobil ratings guides in that it promises objectivity and has select criteria for its staffers to follow in evaluating the properties. Unlike AAA and Mobil, it will not attempt to rate the properties.
"The difference between what Oyster.com reporters bring back and the marketing distortions of the hotel industry is often shocking," said Elie Seidman, founder and CEO of Oyster.com.
"By pulling back the sheets and revealing what you’re really going to get, Oyster.com’s hotel reviews will fundamentally change the way people make hotel decisions."
Oyster.com will launch with hundreds of reviews of hotels in New York, Miami, Aruba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The reviews will look at service, design, dining, cleanliness, nearby nightlife and other factors.
The site has a staff of experienced travel journalists who have spent the last 15 months traveling to hotels, Seidman said. The reviews will look at service, design, dining, cleanliness, nearby nightlife, even the thread count of the sheets on the beds.
The site's business model relies on revenue from advertising and commissions from hotel bookings made through links to online travel agencies.
Oyster.com is financed by Bain Capital Ventures, a firm with investments in LinkedIn, Ameritrade and Vonage.