Can Oyster Reviews keep its pearl intact in spite of the reduction in staff? After only four months of operation, media reports have announced that between one-third to three-quarters of their employees were given the pink slip this week.
The news that this professional hotel review site is in dire straits is bad news for travelers looking for reviews they can trust. If you haven’t checked out their Hawaii hotel reviews, I suggest you look soon while they are still open for business.
Their blog has made no formal announcement of the cutbacks which leads to more questions regarding their future.
Anonymous reports say staff received an email on Sunday not to show up for work on Monday, and were fired without severance or notice. The company, according to its CEO/founder Elie Seidman, would only confirm that “we’ve decided to slightly slow our rate of new market coverage.”
Oyster, according to their website, had a full-time staff of twenty reporters. Seidman indicated as recently as September, that he planned to have 45 reporters by year-end.
While I was excited by a different take and potential competition for Expedia’s TripAdvisor, it never appeared to me that Oyster had a viable financial model in place to support their growth. Business Week said their business model was “enough to induce apoplexy (stroke).” Perhaps that’s what Oyster too realized, albeit too late.
Unfortunately, an Oyster review of a rather large hotel in Hawaii that I am very familiar with has a lot of errors and omissions. So just like the questionable reviews on TripAdvisor, one person’s review on Oyster is just that, one person’s review.
I still can’t believe how much they got wrong in this particular review, including things that are quite obvious. They went out of their way to make a point of things they thought were lacking, but were so completely and obviously wrong, they lost a lot of credibility in the process.
Thanks for your comment. We continue to recommend Oyster as a great source for hotel information.
Beat of Hawaii
Elie Seidman says
Hi Rob –
Not to worry – we are very much still here and not going anywhere. Any rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated. After massively increasing our coverage – Boston, DC and Orlando are on the way to the site over the next 60 days – we decided that it was time to slow down. There is no avoiding it that the economy – and specifically, the availability of expansion capital at reasonable prices – is a variable in our thinking.
If this were 2006, we’d be going faster. But despite our most optimistic hopes, 2009 is 2009 for a reason. But we are not going anywhere – we were and are still very well funded and we are committed to not only maintaining the excellent product we’ve already built but also improving it. We will expand again – we are hopeful that we will start covering European capitals during the late summer and fall of 2010. We are well financed to double down to win in the cities we’ve covered so far. But we are not financed to expand to a whole set of new markets. That’s the long and the short of it.
That being said, as with any travel guidebook, Oyster’s staff has fluctuated in the past – and will continue to fluctuate in the future based on the rate of new coverage.
Oyster Hotel Reviews