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June 01, 2012
Social Media & Marketing
David Atkins - david@digitaldnainfusion.com

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Stats: (growing wildly)
16M Unique Users/Month
more than 80% Female
Ages 25-54
HHI $25-75K
Time Spent engaged 98Min/Month

Source: Pinterest March 2012


Pinterest is a visual social network, in some ways like its cousins Facebook and Twitter and in many other ways distinct. Pinterest has special value for travel and hospitality businesses due specifically to the visual nature of both Pinterest and the services that you offer.

Few mediums today rival TV/video for being able to tell a story. Pinterest has real potential to do just that and to layer in the power of social media. Pinterest is a branding mechanism as it exists today and not a direct or indirect sales or distribution channel. As such it is important to use brand metrics for discussion, reach, frequency and engagement are the metrics you will use to measure Pinterest. Future iterations will likely move beyond branding and into direct response, sales and distribution.

It is recommended to engage the customer where they are, taking calculated risks and investing early in consumer trends with specific metrics and measurements to find success in fertile ground and gain competitive advantage. Pinterest is a site in which both of these recommendations come to bear. Anything on the Web is pinable and you will need a strategy to make your digital assets available to customers where they are, rather than try to bring them over to your various digital or physical assets. It is an opportunity where calculated investments and risk taking are worthwhile, so long as you carefully focus on engagement with your brand, properties, destination or content.

Due to the nature of the experience, travel and hospitality brands have unique assets available to them. Whether traveling to a destination, staying at a hotel or going to a restaurant or theme park, the experience is what our guests are after. That experience is inherently visual and the digital assets that you already possess, properly repurposed, can be “pinned” on Pinterest. Consumers who “pin” are incredibly powerful social signals that stimulate the dreams and aspirations of your potential customers. These signals serve as nodes that spark the imagination of travelers who are just beginning to plan future travel and as such they are a new way for you to create awareness among consumers at the very top of the marketing funnel.

Like Twitter, you’ll need to cultivate powerful, influential Pinterest members who show a strong affinity to travel and hospitality, as these people will happily, and often unknowingly, serve as brand advocates or ambassadors. This is similar to what you have done for years with travel writers and bloggers.

It is important to note that Pinterest is not about a marketing or media strategy per se and is much more about you’re an overall MarCom strategy and therefore will impact your systems and needs more than you might expect. Some basic questions to think about include; how do you own your digital assets, do you have digital asset management, what about photos, who has the rights? What can you do to distribute or encourage adoption and pinning? This will cross many groups in most organizations. Pinterest has a potential to be a great equalizer. Your size and budget won’t matter as much as your agility and ability to think visually and make assets available. You must have a strategy that your team, partners, vendors and agencies all adopt.

Pinterest is also uniquely mobile and tablet-friendly in its offering. This opens a host of high definition visual assets that even on your own digital properties (website, mobile) may not get full utilization. Access Pinterest from an iPad or  iPhone and think about your customers when they are on property, in destination or onboard an airplane. Think about what works visually and how you can best share your assets with the people who aspire to visit your destination, property or to use your services.

Think about what things make sense for this audience. Adding a Pinterest button to your site or making fun infographics and unique, high quality photos ready and available to share are highly valued by network members. Think visually first. Maximize your efforts with Pinterest by developing a true cross-functional strategy. Your visual social networking strategy must bring together a variety of internal and external stakeholders to make your brand’s essence come through.

Pinterest is very hot right now. Facebook, Amazon and eBay have already added Pinterest buttons to their sites, and by the time this article is printed, the demographics and size will have changed again. It is still early on in Pinterest’s rise to scale and you and your team can take a position in this new space. To do so requires a thoughtful, cohesive digital content strategy.

David Atkins is a digital strategist with Digital DNA Infusion, LLC, and can be reached at david@digitaldnainfusion.com.

©2012 Hospitality Upgrade
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