Elie Seidman, the co-founder and CEO of Oyster.com, thinks the new Orbitz hotel ad campaign, is slick, but divorced from reality.
Here's a recent YouTube video from the hotel-focused Orbitz ad blitz, which has the tag line, "When you Orbitz, you know:
On July 15, Orbitz Worldwide President and CEO Barney Harford tweeted about the campaign: "No-one likes a know-it-all until they need to book a hotel. Bless you, cannonball. Know what to expect from your vacation. http://ow.ly/2C3FS
A few hours later, Seidman retweeted Harford's tweet.
Seidman tweeted: "Orbitz ad is good but is divorced from product reality of Orbitz. RT @barneyh: Know what to expect from your vacation http://ow.ly/eC3FS
Seidman claims that Orbitz and the hotels themselves distribute hotel photos and descriptions that can be misleading to customers because they depict images of pristine settings and amenities that may not reflect the actual circumstances.
"The gall of Orbitz’s ad is that it describes the customer problem -- not knowing what I'm going to get when I show up at the hotel -- and implies that Orbitz solves it," Seidman says.
Oyster, which offers journalist-written hotel reviews for a limited number of destinations, has been running Oyster Photo Fakeouts, which purport to portray the gap between the images of hotel publicists and more realistic portrayals on Oyster.com.
Oyster put together a series of what it describes as Orbitz photo fakeouts.
"But as the photo fakeouts of Orbitz show, Orbitz is a part of the problem it claims to solve, and self-evidently is not the solution," Seidman says. "Their ads, while funny, ring hollow and Orbitz and their ad agency,BBDO, need to be taken to task for this.”
So, take a look at some of Seidman's Orbitz fakeouts -- and judge for yourself.
Here's a poolside photo from Orbitz.com at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas:
Here's the actual scene that a visitor might experience at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, according to the Oyster photo below:
Orbitz, however, does indeed have a photo in its Hard Rock photo slideshow, which Seidman didn't submit, depicting a crowded pool. Here it is below:
The following is an Orbitz photo of the beach at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Oahu:
And, the following is Oyster's depiction of the same beach -- albeit at a different time with cranes in the background -- at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Oahu:
Here's another example of what Oyster considers an Orbitz fakeout. This is is an Orbitz photo of the Hyatt Regency Washington:
And, here's the Oyster photo showing the Hyatt Regency Washington's front entrance:
Here's another tranquil pool setting from Orbitz. This one is at Sofitel in Los Angeles:
Meanwhile, the Oyster image of the pool at Sofitel in Los Angeles makes sure to get Macy's into the photo:
Orbitz spokesman Brian Hoyt didn't comment directly about Oyster's compilation of alleged Orbitz photo fakeouts, but said:
"No one in the industry offers the comprehensive content, resources and service that makes up the hotel assurance we provide consumers who book a hotel on Orbitz. No one has total-price hotel display like Orbitz. Orbitz has Hotel Price Assurance, where if another customer books a hotel room for less on our site, a check is in the mail."
"Then add on features like hotel reviews (from customers we verify stayed at the property), features like Google Street View and the other hotel information resources," Hoyt says. "Add to that our history of innovation in other parts of our business like customer care and simply put: We're happy to go head to head with any travel site. So bring it."
What do you think?
Should online travel agencies, such as Orbitz, begin to publish more realistic photos?
That would empower consumers, but probably wouldn't make hotel partners very happy.