Art vs. Commerce

There is a new film – Wonderland – that features commercial directors talking about the difference between true creativity/art and commercial work. Bottom line from the film is that they find commercial work to be anything but artistic.

I have worked with a number of directors on commercials. Many of them went on to do feature films. Others were doing feature films when I started to work with them. From my experience, the best of these directors treat commercial film the same way they would treat an artistic film. The ones who didn’t did boring, lifeless commercial work. The ones who treated it as a piece of them and gave the endeavor their artistic soul always made better work.

Is a commercial work purely creative? NO, of course not. Many times in Wonderland they talk about the restrictions that clients and agency people put on the work. They talk about the money behind the work and how that affects it. Basically, they talk about how they can’t do whatever they want and how that differs greatly from artistic work where they decide what the subject and tone of the work is.

Having read both Coppola’s biography and numerous stories about Orson Wells and other film directors – I can tell you that projects with complete creative control do not always come out better than those where studios dictate a number of the decisions. Directors such as Woody Allen and Spielberg tend to have more control than other directors – and their films do feel more like art than some other films. But I am not convinced that having less control – they won’t make great work. They are great directors. They made great work when they had less control … they just didn’t like it as much. It is harder. It is frustrating. But if they didn’t make great work in the first place with studio collaboration, they would have never had the control the have now. So what comes first – the chicken or the egg?

It is easy to say that when it’s someone else’s idea, there is no art in it. Art comes from the heart and experience. It’s something that garners emotion from the viewer. Commercial work is not that different. … Commercial work comes from a brand heart. The experience is that of the brand and the creatives, while the emotion is felt by the consumer. And make no mistake – creating an emotional tie to a piece of work is extremely important for a brand. Without the emotion, there is no relationship with the brand. And that is basically what a brand is – the relationship with the consumer.

There is a reason why creative directors hire film directors to work on their commercial endeavors. They want art infused into their commercial piece. This is no easy task. The voice of the brand and the client are always repeating rules and strategies even in the most creative creative directors. There is no way around it. But when you add that voice of the artist to the project, you get a voice more concerned with the emotion than the voices in their heads. The best film directors will fight with the creative director to make that art. And the best creative directors will let go of some things and fight for others that he/she knows are necessary for the communication. In the end, the project will become a commerce/art collaboration.

Sometimes the balance goes more toward commerce and sometimes more toward art. Sometimes, the emotion that comes from the art transfers to the brand and sometimes the brand overshadows the emotion created by the art. The best of these collaborations gives you both a brand communication and emotion.

If you look at the two ads below, you will see both art and commerce in them. “Stiff Upper Lip” is as close to some modern art as you will ever get in a television ad. It is mysterious, weird, and definitely pulls different emotions from the viewer like any modern art piece. There are those who don’t understand it, those who love it and many who hate it … but they can’t stop looking at it. And I would say the commercial is art until the commerce ending. I would say the same for the POM Wonderful spot. If you turned off the sound and cut off the product at the end, it’s a very artful piece of film. The composition, beauty, interest and emotion are all there with a product at the end or not.

Also, the digital landscape has opened up the creative avenues tenfold. Think about it. … Now there are brand films where artists are asked to interpret the brand. They are given more freedom because the cost of such films is less and a certain freedom is expected on the Web that isn’t expected as much on television. And, of course, Web films need an authenticity to be shared – and that authenticity means more art than commerce.

Then there is the whole definition of what art is in the first place and how it came to be. Art from the beginning was not always meant to be art. As a form of expression, it has changed with the times. And often, great art was commissioned from great artists. How is getting a portrait of yourself painted different from having a commercial done for your brand? There are obviously rules for both subjects. The artist can’t paint a portrait of someone else when you paid for a portrait of YOU … although a portrait from Picasso might look like someone else – depending on your perspective. The beginnings of art come from telling a story, almost a journal, of early man’s adventures during hunting season 30,000 years ago. These early paintings on caves could well have been advertisements. “Check out Mogu. … He is best at finding meat. He has big weapons. He has a cool cave. Wild animals and women fall at his feet.” Painted by Gred. Gred lives outside Mogu’s cave on a rock. But he paints a mean story about Mogu.

The first artists lived by a set of rules as to how they painted subjects. When they broke those rules, then the needle of art moved. And along the timeline, more rules were broken and art moved again. This is very close to the commercial world, where the rules are continually broken and changing – especially with the advent of a digital landscape that continues to evolve commerce and art as well.

This excerpt says it all. …

“… the lessons of Egyptian art had not simply been discarded and thrown overboard. Greek artists still tried to make their figures as clear in outline as possible, and to include as much of their knowledge of the human body as would go into the picture without doing violence to its appearance. They still loved firm outlines and balanced design. They were far from trying to copy any casual glimpse of nature as they saw it. The old formula, the type of human form as it had developed in all these centuries, was still their starting point. Only they no longer considered it sacred in every detail.” – E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art

That is what a great director does for a piece of commerce. They don’t regard a brand’s rules as sacred in every detail. They are still working from the strategy. They are still trying to get across the right message for the brand. … But the things you hold onto as sacred about your brand … are not in the mind of that director. If he’s good, he’ll try and get you to break some sacred cow that sits in your mind, grazing away at the grey matter. Once that happens – anything is possible. …

 

Mission accomplished — and forever remembered

It took but only a moment for me to firmly decide in Group Therapy that winter morning, after falling in love with everything the Foundation is and stands for (R&R romanced me hard that day),  that I would be headed to Nicaragua this summer, to assist on Project El Crucero. It would cost some money and some PTO, but all of that could be sorted out later. I realized that this was the opportunity I had been itching for, and I had to take it. In a few short months, I’d bust out of the confines of my comfort zone and do what I could to improve the quality of life for another, even if only in a small way.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.01.13 PMMy wildest expectations were surpassed this past June when a group of R&R employees and Friends of Tonner made the trip down to El Crucero, Nicaragua. For most of us, it was our first mission trip. We arrived to Managua hours after the sun had gone down, sweaty and tired, but ready. Our emotions ran the gamut: excited, nervous, anxious. But then, after 40 long minutes of curves and bumps and sweating on the ride up the mountain to El Crucero, we pulled up to the clinic on that first Sunday, and everything was peaceful, and right. Our hearts had led us to this point, and would lead us through it.

Our days were filled with small construction projects on the clinic itself, painting, making and sharing any kind of lunch we could with the food we had, kicking the soccer ball around, arts and crafts, and for the teens in the group (and Roy), leading many, many rounds of “Down By The Banks.”

IMG_7215On the off day we had from the clinic, we found ourselves really missing the kids. The lake was beautiful, the market was a blast (ask someone else on the trip if shopping with me is recommended or not), and the rest and relaxation was probably necessary. But it wasn’t the same as having one of the kids run and leap into your arms when you piled out of the van upon arriving at the clinic. Or the look in the eyes of the boy you gave a new pair of shoes. Or the mother who was in tears because all of her children were fed for a day.

They say 80% of communication is unspoken. None of us are fluent in Spanish, or even close, but conversation never ceased. We filled the holes in our dialogue with hugs, and smiles and laughs. I’ll say these were some of the most instantaneous, meaningful connections I’ve ever made.

Nica 210On the last day, we were able to leave everything we brought: the clothes we wore, the shoes off our feet. I experienced the single most touching moment of my life after giving my tennis shoes to a young teen boy who owned but only a single pair of shoes. They were black dress shoes, with the sole flapping as he walked. After I said, “para usted” to him and handed him the shoes, the look of gratitude on his face, the way he looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Thank you” in English, made me instantly tear up. I will never be eloquent enough to put into words the impact of that moment on me, and the others, as we gave our belongings away. If that were the only moment of the whole trip, it would have been worth it.

We pulled away from the clinic for the last time on Friday afternoon, with some of the kids chasing our van down the dirt drive. We had just held a BBQ for the families of the town, and said our long goodbyes. At dinner that night we reflected on the week as a whole, unanimously agreeing that it was life-changing. One thing is for certain, we’ll all be back next year.

We welcome and encourage you to consider this as part of your personal journey as well.

 

Contemplating my 59th birthday at the Electric Daisy Carnival

If you know what the Electric Daisy Carnival is, skip this paragraph.  I’m going to use it to bring those unaware of all things EDC up to speed. I’ll meet you in a hundred words or so.  For those who don’t know, the Electric Daisy Carnival is, as far as I know, the largest gathering of electronic dance music (EDM) fans and artists in the country, probably the world.  For three consecutive nights in June, 115,000 people gather in the infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to dance, jump up and down, wander around and listen to more than 200 acts spread out over seven stages.  There are also a bunch of carnival rides, art installations and hundreds of actors roaming the grounds wearing incredible costumes, many of them riding on amazing contraptions.

edctopLast weekend, I was there for two of EDC’s three nights.  At this point, it’s appropriate to mention that I am 58 years old, which undoubtedly begs the question: What am I doing out there in the infield of a race track in the middle of the night with 115,000 people – most of whom are one-third to one-half my age – listening to the likes of Nicky Romero, Fake Blood, Dirty South, Destructo, Avicii, John Digweed and Tiesto?

Valid question.  There are a couple of reasons.  First, I am actually a fan of EDM.  Not every genre (and there are many genres.  If you don’t believe me, just search “EDM genres”), but I like a lot of it.  I listen to BPM and Electric Area on Sirius and my oldest son has actually been a DJ (mostly house music) for the last 12 years or so. I certainly don’t qualify as an expert, but I’m not a neophyte.

EDCI also enjoy new and distinctive experiences.  When something as big, overblown and bombastic as EDC is occurring literally 40 minutes from my front door, I’m going out of pure curiosity if for no other reason. In truth, curiosity is what brought me to my first EDC for one night in 2012.  I had so much fun, I returned this year for two.

So, what’s it like?  Big, overblown and bombastic.  What struck me the most was the sheer size and scale of it.  Most don’t realize how big the infield of a mile-and-a-half racetrack is – and EDC fills it.  Look at it this way.  The main stage, called Kinetic Field, was expanded this year to a capacity of 80,000.  One stage.  There are six others. Plus the carnival rides.  Plus the art installations.  Plus 115,000 people.  It’s big.  And in the course of a night, as you move from stage to stage, you do a lot of walking, mostly on concrete and dirt, and not a lot of sitting down.  Throw in dancing and jumping up and down, and it can be physically taxing.

imagexBut the fun never stops.  At EDC the music and the activity are constant. The stages are divided, for the most part, by genre: dubstep, drum & bass and other heavier stuff at the BassPod; clubby, danceable house and techno in the Circuit Grounds; harder, more aggressive techno (the kind that drills a hole in your chest) at BassCon; slower, more minimal and rhythmic stuff in the Neon Garden; a little bit of everything at the Cosmic Meadows; and the big guys – the Tiestos, Sander Van Doorns and Calvin Harrises – playing for crowds of 50,000 or more at Kinetic Field.  If you don’t like what you’re hearing at any given stage, there are six others going at the same time, all night long.  Off you go.

Yet still you might say, as many have, “You’re 58. Aren’t you just a bit… past that?”

EDC2I hope not.  First, let me say that the promoters of the event have done an amazing job.  Considering they are literally creating a throbbing, dancing city of 115,000 people crammed into one place for 10 hours a night, EDC runs like clockwork.  The sound and the lights at every stage are impeccable. The DJs start and finish on schedule. There are friendly, non-aggressive staff people everywhere to help with everything.  The police are cool. The medical personnel are professional and efficient.  And there are more Porta-Johns than I’ve seen at any event in my life. Not an insignificant detail. They’ve even addressed some of the parking and traffic issues that plagued them in previous years. There is nothing about it that isn’t professional and well managed.

imageWhich leaves the crowd.  I’ve been in crowds this large many times.  Led Zeppelin shows, rock festivals, NASCAR races, Superbowls, The Bay-to-Breakers. Never had any real problems. But I can say that the EDC crowd is the mellowest, friendliest, least aggressive group of 100,000 I’ve ever been a part of.  They smile, they laugh, they dance, and they take care of – and look out for- one another.  In two nights, I never saw a single person having harsh words with another, let alone a fight or any other nastiness.  Can’t say the same for many of the football games or rock shows I’ve attended (I once witnessed a fist fight between a guy and a girl at a System of a Down show at the Hard Rock. The girl beat the crap out of him. Female System of a Down fans are tough.).

The memorable thing about attending EDC was that many of them seemed genuinely amused by my presence.  I’m not saying I was the only person my age out there, but there weren’t many.  Still, I must have been asked more than a hundred times if I was having fun.  People smiled, offered me ice for the back of my neck (I declined), complimented my Daft Punk t-shirt and gave me a bunch of good old-fashioned high-fives.  It was as if I was some kind of old-guy mascot who had joined their tribe for the weekend. I felt absolutely no negativity. They were glad I was there to experience their music and they really wanted me to have a good time.  It was gratifying, in a neon bracelet, furry boots kind of way.

Of course, I did make some concessions to age.  The event lasts until 5:30 each morning.  I never got near that.  Bailed at midnight on Friday and 2:30 am on Saturday.  22-year-olds can go three days without sleep.  Not me.  But I did have a great time and have every intention of returning next year for EDC 2014.  I’ll be a few months from my 60th birthday then.  Maybe I’ll celebrate by going all three nights. Assuming I can find a way to get enough sleep.

UK Television Marketplace

Recently the LVCVA launched their new ad campaign in the UK, telling Brits to leave their stiff upper lip at home and come to Las Vegas. Here’s the video

As part of the plan, the LVCVA was able to enter back into the TV marketplace after 5+ years.  Through the planning process, we learned that the UK TV marketplace has some nuances to keep in mind when planning/buying. 

Some major differences:

  • The UK has a dominant state broadcaster, the BBC.  It draws large viewership, but they do not allow any advertising.
     
  • It is not unusual for some high-profile programs to deliver ratings in the 20+ range!
  • TV is reconcilable – if a program over-delivers in rating, advertiser pays the difference

              If The X Factor is forecasted to deliver 29 TVRs (same as TRPs in the US), and it delivers 36 TVRs, advertiser owes the network.
              If Coronation Street is forecasted to deliver 15 TVRs, but only delivers 12, network owes the advertiser 3 ratings

Some similarities:

  • There are both “Terrestrial” and “Multichannel” buying options:

          Terrestrial – similar to the major broadcasters in the US (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC), their major broadcasters are ITV1, Channel 4, Five and ITV Breakfast

           ITV Breakfast is similar to the morning show daypart in the US (Today Show, GMA, etc.) but for whatever reason, the government thought there was going to be corruption when they started selling this, so it is its own separate entity.

            Multichannel – the equivalent of cable TV.  Like the US, there are a multitude of channels to pick from and many fall under larger saleshouses. 

            For instance, Sky Media owns Sky 1, FX, E!, Comedy Central, Style, Vh1, etc.

  • Like the US, share has been shifting from terrestrial to multichannel
  • TV generally skews female, old and lower income; however buying on certain multichannel networks allows for more refined targeting
  • Networks are motivated primarily by share-of-revenue, volume is less important

Season of Giving

“Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is: What are you doing for others? – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Reno office helps package food in the local food bank.

R&R Partners has again opened its hearts this holiday season! We are so proud of the kindness and generosity of our employees in every office and the charitable efforts of the R&R Partners Foundation.

R&R’s helping hands reached out from coast to coast! Our Washington, D.C., office chose two charities to assist: The Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive and Martha’s Table, both of which do incredible work for the hungry and underprivileged in our nation’s capital. For the Greg Cannon Canned Food Drive (in its 25th year), our folks in D.C. collected 85,000 cans and boxes of food. For Martha’s Table (where President and Michelle Obama served food the day before Thanksgiving), we donated a huge box of winter coats, toys and books.

Our Los Angeles office showed its holiday spirit with a toy drive that provided more than 50 toys for the Children’s Bureau.  In Reno, our team packaged food at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

In Las Vegas, R&R helped 68 children of Child Focus (a program of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children) receive gifts this holiday season, and many of our employees volunteered their time to help the local food bank, Three Square, and build a house with Habitat for Humanity. We also held a food drive for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

R&R employees in Las Vegas help local food bank Three Square.

The R&R Partners Foundation has touched many lives throughout the holiday season (more on that soon). Although the year is coming to a close, R&R is committed to keeping that giving spirit all year long.  Here’s to giving in 2013!

This Week in Travel & Tourism — 11/5/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Future travel will include nontraditional destinations, study finds

Market research firm Euromonitor International has released the results of its “Global Trends Report,” which shows the world’s top emerging travel trends. The study says U.S. travelers will be increasingly drawn to destinations previously off-limits to foreigners, such as Myanmar, Cuba and North Korea. The travel industry is also expected to see a rise in “technology-free” vacation packages and trips that focus on relaxation.

DOMESTIC

Effect on tourism is a contentious issue in pro-marijuana measures

Measures that will loosen restrictions for the recreational use of marijuana in Washington state and Colorado have raised questions about its potential effect on local tourism, this feature says. Opponents in Colorado say the measure could have a negative effect on the state’s image. “If Colorado receives international media attention as the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana in their constitution, Colorado’s brand will be damaged and we may attract fewer conventions and see a decline in leisure travel,” said Visit Denver CEO Richard Scharf.

CRUISE

Norwegian Cruise Line will raise prices for Hawaii sailings

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced plans to increase fares on cruises in Hawaii. Prices for cruises aboard the Pride of America are scheduled to increase by about 10% starting Jan. 1, the cruise line says.

MGM Resorts and Royal Caribbean partner to offer more benefits to loyal members

MGM Resorts International and Royal Caribbean International recently launched a strategic partnership to benefit members of    both companies’ loyalty programs, MGM’s M life and Royal’s Crown & Anchor Society.

AIRLINE

Holiday air, hotel bookings filling fast

Travel agents say demand for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday travel is up sharply, and that travelers who don’t make plans early may face sold-out locations. “This is not a great year for procrastination,” said Simon Bramley, vice president at Travelocity, where Thanksgiving ticket purchases are up 9%.

AA offers double-mile rewards to compensate for flight disruptions

American Airlines has announced that frequent fliers will be getting double elite-qualifying miles for flights from through Dec. 31 to compensate for flight disruptions that passengers experienced during the carrier’s contract negotiations with its pilots. The airline appears to be nearing an agreement with leaders of the union, who hope to “reach a final agreement this week to be voted on by pilots,” this feature says.

Airlines seek new fees despite ancillary revenue increasing

Airlines earn ancillary revenue for extra baggage, Wi-Fi service and other goodies, and they stand to make 11.3% more in 2012 than they did with such fees the year before, this feature says. Major carriers will earn $36.1 billion in fees this year, according to a report by IdeaWorksCompany and Amadeus. But watch out for new charges. “The low-hanging fruit is gone; they are going to have to invent products,” says travel writer Joe Brancatelli.

OTA

Priceline to buy Kayak for $1.8 billion

Priceline.com will buy travel metasearch company Kayak for $1.8 billion. Priceline will pay $40 a share for Kayak, including $1.3 billion in stock and $500 million in cash, the companies said Thursday afternoon.

LAS VEGAS

Tropicana Las Vegas to become a DoubleTree by Hilton

Las Vegas’ Tropicana hotel will be reflagged in January as the Tropicana Las Vegas — a DoubleTree by Hilton, marking the first time a Hilton Worldwide-branded hotel will be on the Las Vegas Strip since Hilton spun off what would become Caesars Entertainment in 1998.

Mexico’s Interjet will add Las Vegas service this month

Mexican airline Interjet will begin service to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Nov. 15. Flights will operate twice a week from Mexico City’s secondary airport in Toluca. The new route marks the fifth U.S. destination for the airline.

Join us for #RRchat this Friday

As our society becomes more engaged in social media, we turn to digital avenues to raise awareness for everything from stating our point of views on hot topics to promoting our businesses. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have replaced traditional means of getting our message across, reaching more people than ever before.

Join us for this Friday’s #RRchat on Twitter from 1-2 p.m. to talk about how Social Media is helping to drive awareness on topics such as your health status and the upcoming election season. Check out the questions below for a sneak peak of the discussion points.

1. Facebook now lets users ID themselves as organ donors. Will you share your organ donor status for all to see?
2. Every November, men around the world grow a mustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues. Do you think this impacts others’ awareness on issues like prostate cancer?
3. With elections just around the corner, politicians are already sprucing up their social media presence. How can having a social presence help raise awareness about their stance on issues?

Talk to you on Friday!

Follow #RRchat this Friday

Calling all music fans! Take a short break this Friday afternoon to chat with industry professionals about how brands are using social media to promote music.

Use the hashtag #RRchat on Twitter and join us on Friday from 3-4 Pacific Time to voice your opinions and comments. It’s fun!

1. The Tupac hologram “performed” @Coachella with @SnoopDogg and @DrDre. More than 23,000 people have followed @HologramTupac on Twitter. If you could bring a musician back from the dead, who would it be and why?

2. @MySpace trumps @Spotify’s collection of free music with 42 million songs. Do you think MySpace will make a comeback, trumping other major music sites?

3. @Coachella has created nine ways to follow them on Social Media. Which musician or festival do you think has the best brand presence on social and why?

Follow @rrpartners and remember to use the hashtag #RRchat!

See you on Friday!

This week in Travel and Tourism – 4/9/12

DOMESTIC

Atlantic City, N.J., group plans $20M campaign to draw tourists

Nonprofit group Atlantic City Alliance is launching a $20 million marketing campaign aimed at promoting the New Jersey city’s nongaming tourist attractions to leisure travelers. Carrying the tagline “Do Anything. Do Everything,” the initiative will include advertisements in major cities. “We have to reposition Atlantic City as a tourism destination,” said Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance.

Delta breaks ground on $160M LaGuardia hub makeover

Delta Air Lines Inc. broke ground Wednesday on a $160 million renovation and expansion of its hub at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The project includes a 630-foot connector bridge linking Terminals C and D, a new Delta Sky Club in Terminal C and expanded security lanes in both terminals.

INTERNATIONAL

Mexico tourism officials report recovery

Mexico has taken a beating over the past several years, ever since the triple whammy of drug violence, the H1N1 flu scare and a prolonged recession that curtailed travel in the countries that supply the bulk of its tourism. But if the Tianguis Turistico at the end of March is any indication, the country’s tourism industry has bounced back in a big way.

AIRLINE

Allegiant Air to Start Hawaii Flights

The ultradiscount-airline business is spreading to the lucrative market of Hawaii, as Allegiant Air plans to start low-cost service to Honolulu from Las Vegas and Fresno, Calif. Parent company Allegiant Travel Co., which focuses on selling vacation packages along with its cut-rate airfares, is entering one of the nation’s biggest vacation destinations after two years of planning.

Pinnacle’s plan: Smaller operation would fly for Delta Air Lines only

Former managers of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines Inc. spent four years expanding and diversifying it into a $1 billion regional airline holding company. Through Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings this week in New York, their successors seek to roll back the clock and return to serving a single master, Delta Air Lines.

OTA

IBM research: OTAs, suppliers are misreading buyers’ values

Growing consumer dissatisfaction with online travel agencies (OTAs) and suppliers’ websites offers traditional agents and agencies an opportunity to pick up market share, according to a recent IBM report. In an executive report titled “Travel 2020: The Distribution Dilemma,” IBM researchers said that fewer than half of leisure and business travelers believe they’re getting a fair value for their travel dollar when they book online.

CRUISE

Carnival introduces George Lopez-branded comedy club

The Carnival Miracle launched year-round Caribbean sailings from New York on Thursday, offering several new dining and entertainment options for Carnival Cruise Lines. Making its Carnival debut is the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez. The comedian serves as Carnival’s “curator of comedy,” acting as a consultant on the hiring of comedians.

ETC.

Pinterest draws attention of agents, suppliers

More members of the travel industry are looking at the new social media tool Pinterest and recognizing its potential for marketing, this feature says. “The advantage Pinterest has is simple: pictures,” said Meghan Peters of social media news website Mashable.com. “Its photocentric design appeals to even the most casual social media user. … The site has quickly struck a chord with a mainstream audience, a difficult feat for a new social network.”

Free Wi-Fi is most desired amenity, survey says

Note to hotel owners: Americans really like free Wi-Fi. The most important amenity for prospective U.S. hotel guests is free wireless Internet access, Expedia’s Hotels.com division said, citing its survey of prospective U.S. travelers. Of those polled, 38% said free Wi-Fi was “a must when choosing hotel accommodations.” By comparison, 25% of those surveyed said free breakfast was essential, while 18% chose free parking as the most desired amenity. Room service came in at just 2%.

Join us for weekly #RRchat

Photo-sharing is all the rage right now. Ten percent of all photos taken by mankind were taken within the last 12 months, and now Facebook has shelled out $1 billion on the social photo sharing mobile app Instagram, following its expansion to the Android platform. First, iPhone users grouched about the non-exclusivity about the app when it became available to Android users. Now, people can’t get over the fact that such a small photo-sharing company is raking in the big bucks with the huge sale of their brilliant idea to Facebook.

So that makes us wonder, what is the future of photo-sharing? How will Facebook integrate Instagram to maximize the visual benefits, engage users and increase the number of shares?

Join us this (and every) Friday on Twitter from 3-4 p.m. Pacific Time for #RRchat to talk about the latest topics in the media and digital landscape. It’s easy! Simply take a break from your more important work to chat with us on Twitter using the hashtag #RRchat. (Don’t worry…you have permission from your supervisor for this super important assignment.)

Question 1: @Facebook recently bought @Instagram for $1 billion. How do you think this will shape photo-sharing for Facebook users?

Question 2: Speaking of photo-sharing, check out #textsfromHilary on @Tumbr. What is your favorite and why?

Question 3: A new waterproof #iPhone case allows you to take pics and videos 20 feet under water. What would you take photos of and would you share your #swimsuit photos with followers?

Don’t forget to use the #RRChat hashtag! See you every Friday from 3-4 p.m. Pacific!