Some pretty sad (but not surprising) news from Oyster Hotel Reviews this morning – the site is changing its course from hotel reviews, to hotel bookings.
Originally, Oyster launched with a lot of fanfare, promising some of the most reliable hotel reviews on the Internet. And they really did deliver – their reviews were always comprehensive, full of great photos and a keen eye for details.
Sending their large pool of journalists on review trips resulted in two things – a really good collection of hotel reviews, and no real way to turn those reviews into cash. The concept behind the reviews also meant that Oyster would show up unannounced, and pay their own way for the rooms.
Dennis Schaal from the always excellent Tnooz.com broke the news on the upcoming changes, reporting that Oyster will become a hotel-transaction site in early April. The initial focus will be on reservations for hotels included in their own pool of reviews. At its peak, Oyster employed 16 freelance reporters who were on the road reviewing properties – the current pool consists of just 3 reporters.
It is a shame to see this change in direction for Oyster – they regularly appeared here on Gadling, and having to part ways with the majority of your staff is always a painful decision to make. Best of luck to the new Oyster, and to their freelance reporters who are now looking for new gigs.
Update: Our friends at Oyster reached out to clarify that hotel reviews continue to be the main aspect of the site, and that they are still 100% devoted to helping people in a research capacity. The addition of hotel booking feature is just another way they plan to offer users a way to book their vacation.