Pinterest for tourism: the best thing since vanilla?

February 23, 2012

No doubt about it: Pinterest is officially THE social media darling of 2012. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a site where folks can share pictures under specific themes, i.e. cooking recipes, home hardware, favorite hobbies, etc. A good read is this blog post from CopyBlogger: 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest. While Pinterest exists since 2010, it has skyrocketed into the limelight over the past three months with a growth similar to, ahem, Facebook back in 2005.  Not convinced? Here are some stats that should blow you away: – Pinterest reached the milestone of 10 million US unique visitors during the month of January, faster than any independent site in history! – There are presently 10.4 million registered users on Pinterest, seeing its daily users increase by 145% since the beginning of 2012; – Pinterest is generating more referral traffic to websites than Youtube, Google+ and LinkedIn… combined! – Users spend more time on Pinterest than Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+… combined!! (Details here) – 80% of pins are “re-pins”, confirming the viral nature and shareability of a site like Pinterest. – It is estimated that up to 95% of Pinterest users are female, according to TechCrunch. We all know who does the decision-making in most households, so I will let you factor that one in… Many experts predicted Quora would be THE social platform of 2011 yet it failed to materialize. It certainly was interesting (it still is, in fact) but who uses a Q&A site on a daily basis? You go when you have questions that need answers, but it lacks the stickiness that a site such as Pinterest can provide. Why? It’s all about shareability and interests. Pinterest groups interests per boards, so if you are into rock music memorabilia, you can start following people who share that interest, pin pictures on your board, repin other people’s pictures, and so on. As for shareability well, you can share, pin, love or repin any picture or infographic from pretty much any platform: desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet. And with the recent integration of the Pinterest application into Facebook’s new Open Graph, your Pinterest activity shows up in your Facebook Timeline for your friends and family to share. No wonder women have embraced this platform like none before: it’s a great place to convene to share recipes, fashion talk, wedding planning information, home decoration ideas and much, much more. What is the travel industry doing on Pinterest? Of course, now that the platform has gone mainstream and that we now know how much web traffic can be referred from it, marketers are all over Pinterest – some sarcastics say it’s the end of innocence for Pinterest, and I would have to agree to some degree… 😉 Because photos tend to evoke and have an aspirational component, Pinterest is great in the early stages of travel planning. Thus, hotels, resorts, restaurants and most Destination Marketing Organizations would benefit from a minimal presence on Pinterest, to get the hype going and peek interest on the destination, referring to the official website or Facebook page. Presently though, there are few and far in between doing a good job. Anne Hornyak recently found 34 destinations (CVBs) in the US and 3 international destinations, the clear leader being Visit Savannah, in Georgia (USA). Tourisme Montreal also recently joined in on the fun, with this interesting board. Personally, the best example I have found so far is not exactly from a travel office, yet it does an excellent job in that sense. If you are familiar with South by SouthWest (SXSW), it’s a great annual showdown that take place every year in Austin, Texas, where thousands of delegates, speakers and artists convene for a multi-day conference about Music, Film & Interactive. As it can be overwhelming for a newbie attending for the first time, the organization came up with these great boards on Pinterest, revealing most often asked questions with original answers under every visual provided.

Once you click on any of the boards, say “The Parties” for example, the board showcases a variety of party options, venues and RSVP events that may or may not interest you. If this can be done for a 10-day event, why wouldn’t a DMO, hotel or resort not want to organize its content in a similar fashion, according to customer interests, things to see & do, nearby restaurants, etc.?

(Click on the picture to enlarge)

Now the biggest danger that lies ahead for travel marketers is to fall in to the “me-too” syndrom. Just because there’s a definite hype and everybody’s talking about it doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. First and foremost, get yourself an account, see how things unfold, start pinning, repin others’ valuable content, and think about if and how this may make some sense for your brand.

No, I don’t believe we are dealing with “another Quora”, as some pundits have alluded to. Pinterest holds definite potential to become a game-changer, in particular in the travel sphere where images tell a thousand words and where we aspire to evoke and share experiences. That said, I don’t believe it’s the next best thing after the invention of vanilla either. Or maybe it’s just because I’m not part of the key demographic (I’m a guy!), so I don’t quite get it… 😉

Resource: Hubspot just published an ebook called: How to Use Pinterest for Business

For more on Pinterest & tourism, read: 5 Questions: Joe Vargo on Pinterest

How the Hospitality Industry Can Use Pinterest

Why Pinterest Should Be of Interest to Brands

What’s driving Pinterest’s amazing growth

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo

Senior marketing and communications expert & speaker with more than 20 years of expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, I provide strategic planning, social media & mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach me at

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jonesallan 5pts

Residential design is the design of the interior of private residences. As this type design is very specific for individual situations, the needs and wants of the individual are paramount in this area of interior design. 

Lucesunshine1 5pts

Hahaha! I agree with «some sarcastics say it's the end of innocence for Pinterest». I've been an active member since something like sept.2011 and I must say I didn't like the taste of seeing SPAM stepping in... And the businesses stepping in... But what can you do, Pinterest is definitly a victim of its own popularity! Let s just hope businesses will use it with common sense and respect to the pinterest-concept...

Eric Rentini Travel
Eric Rentini Travel 5pts

This is great stuff here! This is exactly why we have just launched two different campaigns focused on promoting vacation homes and travel destination on Pinterest. Each campaign designed separately to promote either travelers dream destinations and homeowners rentals. Here's the flyers for each: Travelers: Homeowners: Furthermore, we're launching a blog series at focusing on how social media can help market tourism. Please feel free to chime in to the conversation!

Phillipa Kiripatea
Phillipa Kiripatea 5pts

Fantastic post Frederico! As a social media marketer I have been wondering still how Pinterest can help businesses. Your post has told me exactly how in a clear and concise way, so thank you for that. Pinterest is great for the wedding industry. I am planning my wedding on Pinterest at the moment. It's so much easier than to search through Google and click through on all the different wedding websites. So I can see now how Pinterest will work really well for the tourism and travel industry. We love to see things, and Pinterest does that for us.

Tori 5pts

Great minds must think alike! I wrote up a sort blurb about it, too, because I love it. Beyond tourism, it's also now one of the hottest tools for fashion and wedding planning because it sparks ideas and drives traffic back to the source. Thanks for your post!

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks for the feedback, Gazalla. Indeed, any business that has visual appeal, selling products and experiences will see a benefit to a presence on Pinterest, in my opinion. Time will tell for the rest...

Gazalla Gaya
Gazalla Gaya 5pts

Thanks for the quick overview. I really liked your lead and the statistics are certainly enlightening. I haven't tried Pinterest as yet and ironically the subject of this week's interactive marketers meetup in my area revolved around Pinterest. I think that it would be ideal for certain niche markets such as travel, entertainment, clothing, interior design - any market with a necessity for visual appeal. Like you, I'm really curious how the future will shape up for Pinterest.

Adi Gaskell
Adi Gaskell 5pts

Nice post Frederic. I confess to having not really explored Pinterest a great deal as most of my work at the moment is around the field of process improvement (lean, six sigma etc.) so it doesn't really fit all that well. However for something like travel it must be a really interesting site. So many of our travel decisions are made visually. We love to take photos of our trips to share with others also. It will certainly be interesting to see how the site develops in 2012 as right now it seems to be doing something that Flickr hasn't achieved, nor indeed the photos element of Facebook.

Troy Thompson
Troy Thompson 5pts

Hey Frederic, Solid post. Thank you for the link, appreciated. While it is nice to see destinations and tourism organizations exploring the possibilities with Pinterest, I think we will see a maturation of the strategy to focus on the insights and curation aspects, rather than just the referral traffic. Traffic is great, but it is not the real opportunity with Pinterest. Insight into the consumer travel planning cycle, especially for a DMO, is much more valuable. Plus, for destinations, why re-create the wheel? Already a lot of great tourism content on the site, just aggregate the best, pull it into your own site (via the soon-to-be released API) and become the expert curator. As for Quora, it is an important point. Personally, I still see a lot of value in the Q&A offering for tourism. But, Quora has slowed due to quality. In the early days, Quora was an amazing bastion of knowledge and interaction from some very smart minds. Then, it got popular. And the level of answers declined. Will that happen with Pinterest? We will see. Good stuff. - Troy