‘Sir, no photo, please!’

There was a time, not so long ago, when this was a catch phrase for hotel staffs as soon as we’d attempt to pull out our camera (remember those things?) to take some snapshots of a beautiful lobby or the visually breathtaking restaurant where we just have enjoyed a sumptuous dinner.

I just got back from the beautifully renovated Hotel de Crillon in Paris, where I had the wonderful opportunity for an insider’s tour as a privilege of our long-standing relationship with the operator. Needless to say, weaponed with the always-ready-to-shoot iPhone in hand, I took countless photos along my tour. Out of pleasure and of course for reference and internal sharing – after all, a designer never stops working!

As mentioned, the liberty of freely capturing moments around a hotel wasn’t always granted. Just a decade ago, before the birth of the iPhone, we would still be packing a point-and-shoot or a heavy-duty (and literally heavy!) DSLR camera among our travel essentials. As a courtesy and out of respect, I would never point the camera directly towards guests, especially in areas where privacy matters, such as the poolside or the gym. Yet even then, more often than not, the smiley (yet very persistent) hotel security would give me a friendly reminder of the hotel’s “no photo” policy, particularly at top luxury hotels. You can’t imagine how many “Kodak moments” I have missed throughout the years because of that!

It still makes me wonder why hotels would have such policy in place. Isn’t a beautiful photo captured by your guest the best free publicity imaginable?

Luckily, hotels do “get” it now. A few months ago, we went for lunch at a brand-new hotel that just opened its doors in Bangkok. While wandering around the property and of course taking some snapshots, not only did the friendly staff encourage taking photos, they even directed their guests to the best photo spots to capture the most appealing angles! How interesting to see how the photo-taking policy has evolved.

Quite often would a hotel even send a message to ask for my permission to repost my Instagram shots onto their official account. So for us, as a designer, we’d better make sure that we have embedded sufficient Instagram moments…

Great photos… please!