Oyster takes shot at travel photo search and bookingsNewsBy Dennis Schaal | June 27, 2011Share This article was originally published on 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.