On Instagram, guest feedback comes fast, frequent, and with #NoFilter. Now, thanks to a few key updates, hotels can use the platform the same way.

It seems like just yesterday that Facebook cracked open its piggy bank and shelled out a billion dollars for Instagram. Originally this purchase was Facebook’s way of hedging its bets on the growing mobile market. And until very recently, Facebook didn’t make any updates to the Instagram app for fear of alienating its precious user base. Brands were teased by the prospect of 150 million monthly users without any real way to make an impact at scale.

That’s changing. Quickly.

Today, 48% of active Facebook users are “mobile only,” and mobile-ad revenue is expected to surpass desktop-ad revenue by 2014. Subsequently, Instagram’s reins have been loosened in the hopes of battling mobile-messaging competitors like Snapchat, What’s App and Kik.

In October, Instagram gave the green light to paid advertisements, and just last month, users were introduced to Instagram Direct, which brings a private, one-to-one dimension to the platform. Instead of sharing a photo with all of your followers, you can handpick the recipients.

At this point, many in the hotel industry are saying,

“So what?”

To that I say,

“Picture this.”

An influential travel blogger shares a photo on Instagram taken at your hotel. It might not look like it, but this is, in essence, a hotel review.

More importantly, this is where communication is headed. People aren’t sharing pictures as a way of cataloguing and remembering; they’re sharing them as part of an ongoing feed of experiences and impulses. People aren’t saying, “This is where I was.” They’re saying, “This is where I am.” A photo is the most efficient way to deliver that information.

This trend towards real-time broadcasting is what’s driving the evolution of Instagram and giving hotels a huge opportunity to be seen and heard. Every single photo is a chance to say, “This is who we are.” 

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