Oyster.com, a hotel-booking website partnered with Travel Channel, has launched a new way to search for hotels: Oyster Shots.

It’s photo-based — but not the stock room and amenity photos you see on booking sites like Travelocity and Expedia. These pics come from Oyster Shots staff and “local reporters,” the idea being that they offer a more realistic view of what you can expect from a hotel.

Though the site claims to already have a database of 500,000+ photos, it’s still quite limited. It currently only covers around a dozen cities in the U.S. (plus Toronto). The cool thing, though, is that you can search by a range of criteria. Trending searches at the time of writing included “Las Vegas Party Hotels” and “Luxury Hotel Bathrooms.”

Best case, I see this as combining a Google Street View level of visual data with instant booking ability and social media connectivity (each photo has share buttons pointing to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

Worst case, it’ll be hijacked by hotel marketers, a la TripAdvisor.

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