We all know certain pictures, like the mouth-watering shot of Cocoa Puffs on the box, are retouched to look better. But do you ever think about the shot of that bargain hotel you found through Google? Does it really have an ocean view, or is it just bordering a street called Ocean View?
Apparently, this is a fairly widespread issue, so much so that there’s an entire travel site devoted to giving you the unvarnished truth about your prospective accommodations. Hit up Oyster and they’ll give you what they promise is an unretouched shot of the hotel and the honest reviews of people who have stayed there.
Now, we’ve all been burned by hotels that looked clean enough online but turned out to be pretty skeevy in person. And for hotels that really stretch the truth, like cropping unsightly power lines, or pretending there’s not six blocks to the beach, rightfully deserve to be taken to task for it. But in looking over the Businessweek slideshow, I was struck by how many people had issues with things that were, well, petty. Yes, the hotel probably did put fresh plants out before they photographed, and dressed up a coffee table with some fake books. Should you feel cheated they didn’t do that for you? My view is, it’s a hotel room, not a permanent residence. But then again, my bar is pretty low. If I don’t have to call the police on the room next door to me, I’m happy.
It’s funny, though, because until I read the Businessweek article it never crossed my mind that airbrushing and photoshopping would be such a big deal in the tourism industry. It makes sense, especially when price and the picture on Hotels.com may be the only determining factors for consumers shopping around. Also, I’m clearly in the wrong business, if photographers can charge up to $30,000 to make that thumbnail shot look better!
Do you hold hotels (or any other destination) to the standard you see in their pictures, or do you assume there’s some wiggle room in the age of point, click, redo?