Pinterest offers great potential for tourism marketing

If you’re on Facebook , you’ve likely noticed that in the past three months a social media platform called Pinterest

If you’re on Facebook (and let’s face it, that’s where your customers are these days), you’ve likely noticed that in the past three months a social media platform called Pinterest has exploded onto the scene. You might be sick to death of the level of detail on your friends’ dining and decorating choices, but hiding behind this barrage there is a golden opportunity for tourism marketing.

Put simply, Pinterest is the ultimate wish list. It’s a site where you can collect, organize and share pictures, recipes, and other content under specific themes such as cooking, home decorating, hobbies, and so on. You sign in through either Facebook or Twitter. You follow folks with similar interests, and these can grow quite specific, and off you go. I set up an account and spent some time on it just to learn its potential for tourism marketing, and I have to admit that it’s quite addictive.

Pinterest is booming – in a way not seen since Facebook took over the web in 2005. The platform has actually been around since 2010, but it’s only since Christmas that it’s experienced this phenomenal growth.

And it is phenomenal. In January it hit the milestone of 10 million unique US visitors – a growth record – and with 11.7 million registered users at the moment it’s seen a daily user increase of 145% since the beginning of the year. Users spend more time on Pinterest than on Twitter, and it generates more referral traffic than YouTube. In fact 95% of the “pins” are “re-pins,” so the “virability” of site content is magic.

But here’s the real kicker: 95 per cent of Pinterest users are female. And guess who does the decision making in travel in most households?

“I’ll admit that the full potential of Pinterest as a visitor search or tourism destination tool was lost on me at first,” Samantha Maltais wrote last week on the SilverTech blog. “At first glance, Pinterest looks like it was created by Martha Stewart, with canning jar lanterns, 101 indoor activities for children, 50 cool ways to style hair for the workplace and about every workout motivation picture available. But then, I realized: Pinterest was built for women.”

At the beginning of the travel planning cycle, when the consumer is simply collecting ideas for future trips, Pinterest is ideal from a broad marketing standpoint. As we all know, a million-dollar shot is simply the best way of triggering a potential visitor’s interest. Just create a platform for showing your best images, and let it go crazy. Taking this thinking to the next level, I can’t think of a better way to track consumer intent to travel.

I think that it will work on the next level as well, when the consumer has made their destination choice. A photo of a jumping whale, of your best suite, or of your signature dish, might be the potential visitor’s first exposure to these experiences. That should help finalize the sale on a trip to Prince Rupert, and ensure that your business or attraction is on the visitor’s “must experience” list.

To measure your success, check the referrals on your Google Analytics. As with most forms of online marketing, the most specific imaginable tracking is at your fingertips. Yet even just common sense gives it even more value than that. “Pinterest allows you to determine what common interests your destination visitors share,” writes Troy Thompson at Travel 2.0. “If someone has pinned a photo of your destination, it only takes a few more clicks to learn what else they are interested in. Think of it as a mood board for your brand. And one that you did not have to pay your branding agency for.”

It’s natural shake your head and say, “Another one? I can’t manage the social media that I’m already trying to do.” But this one is really low maintenance, and its value is growing more apparent with each passing day.

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