Clark Howard Exposes Hotel Photo Fake Outs


ATLANTA - No one likes to spend their hard-earned money on a vacation spot that is not what was advertised.

Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard has some tips on how you can find out what a hotel really looks like before you check in.

Maybe the pool is significantly smaller than pictured or the beach is not as serene as illustrated in advertised photographs. It is what is known as a photo fake out, when what a hotel pictured is not actually what you get.

"The picture looked like one thing, and the description was wonderful, but when you got out there it was a piece of junk," said Veronica Dallas.

It is called a photo fake out, you imagine serenity, you get sardines. You think you're steps from the capitol, but put on your sneakers.

Jennifer Garfinkel uncovers photo fake outs. Garfinkel works for, a website that puts hotel reviews online.

"We've visited every single hotel in person and taken hundreds of photographs, so when you're researching you can see the real hotel the way it will really be when you get there," said Garfinkel.

Garfinkel showed WSB one of her favorite fake outs. It's from a Miami hotel that pictured a male model in a pool, pictured with a surf board.

"First of all, why would you have a surfboard in any pool, that is bizarre enough in itself, and secondly the pool is in reality the size of a hot tub," said Garfinkel.

Garfinkel said cropping pictures is also a technique used by hotel chains.

"It looks like there is a great view, but if you turn just a bit to the left, you'll see that Macy's is looming over the pool," said Garfinkel.

Even intimate weddings promoted by hotel chains can be a fake out said Garfinkel.

"In reality you have hotel guests standing around fawning at you in their bathing suits, peaking in on your private, very personal, very romantic wedding day," said Garfinkel.

How do you spot a photo fake out before you get punked?

"Sometimes is obvious, but not always," advises Howard.

"Beware of smiling close-ups of people working out, they are not always showing you the whole picture. That lady who is always in a bikini and always alone, you're not going to find her. She is a model. You're more likely to run into a bunch of frat guys at the pool."

Howard also advised, "The best way to avoid being a victim of a photo fake out, is to research lots of websites, not just, but Trip Advisor is a great site to visit, it posts real pictures from real visitors, along with reviews."