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How Hospitality Brands Can Use Pinterest Like the Pros

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Posted by Alex Gaggioli
November 19, 2015

A Pinterest Strategy for Hotels – Introduction

When it comes to Pinterest, there are a few industries that stand-out. Among do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and inspirational quotes, travel images are the next most prevalent content. Pinterest users love to sort and organize through beautiful photos from all over the world, planning their next trips and lusting after exotic locations. With Pinterest, you have the opportunity to share your property and be discovered by millions of users. We created a guide to get you started on Pinterest and help you tune into what users look for.

The Basics

So, how does Pinterest work? Well, it is a collection of pictures that show up in your feed like this.

Pinterest-Feed-Example

The pictures are called “pins” and in the words of Pinterest, they are visual bookmarks. All the images uploaded can link back to their original location. This feature allows many people to share the same pin or image with their own commentary while still linking back to the original content. So, if your hotel uploads a photo of your property and 100 people repin it, all 100 pins will still link back to your website.

Pins are organized on what Pinterest calls boards, which work like folders where you can organize pins by topic or category. Any user can create as many boards as they want and can be on any topic.

Some common boards your hotel might create could be:

  • Seasonal activity boards such as Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter
  • Demographic boards such as ‘Great for families”
  • Solo traveler tips
  • Style boards
  • Amazing Architecture
  • Divine food
  • Local secrets
  • Favorite hikes
  • etc.

There are many creative ways to organize and share boards. Users have the option to follow you or just a certain board. Many people will only follow specific boards that pertain to their individual interests, so it’s important to know your audience. The Four Seasons, for example, has many different boards including destination based boards, design, architecture, travel essentials, and much much more. The Four Seasons tuned into their audience’s interests and creates boards that extend beyond travel and hospitality. This is a great strategy because they can engage their target market even when they’re not looking to engage with travel related content specifically.

Four-Seasons-Pinterest-Example

How to Create a Pinterest Content Strategy for Hotels

First, create boards that are directly related to your hotel and destination. Name your first board after your hotel. For example, the Garden Court Hotel has a board called, Garden Court Hotel. They then uploaded images that you expect to find on their website.

Garden-Court-Hotel

Fill your property board with images from your website and any other images from the photo shoot. Photos do best when they are clear and bright, so make sure to upload only quality images.

Second, create a board that focuses on your property’s destination. The Lafayette Hotel in San Diego has a board that showcases everything their guests might want to do in the area. It includes information on the most popular local attractions, as well as fun photos that share the So Cal vibe.

San-Diego-Pinterest-Example

Third, after you create those two foundation boards, expand to your hotel’s details. Create boards for specific rooms, like The Hotel Del Coronado does with their A Room With A View board.

A-Room-With-a-View

The Del also includes boards for their shops and restaurants on the property. You should create individual boards for each different piece of your property. Make your first property board an overview, and then create more specific boards to pique more particular interests. See The Del’s Good Eats board to get inspired.

Good-Eats Pinterest Example
More ideas

Once you get the basics, you should create boards that showcase what makes your property different. The Hotel Del Coronado has a rich history that dates back over a hundred years. Many people stay at The Del because of its rich history, so it makes sense to include a board called San Diego History.

If your hotel is an adventure hot-spot, include local attractions that pique your adventurous guests’ interests. Or if your property hosts a lot of weddings, include a board with photographs from past events. The amount of boards you include is really up to you and differs from property to property.

User-generated content. Some brands create collaborative boards that allow multiple people to add pins to a board. It is a great idea to create a board that highlights guests’ vacations and gives potential guests a unique point of view. The Hotel Del also does this on their Your Vacation Photos board.

Create a Business Account

There are different accounts for general users and businesses. Business accounts let you create ads, while personal accounts do not. To create a business account, click here. If you already have an account and want to convert, click here.

Pinterest has an entire business tools page to help you navigate your business account. They offer brand guidelines, analytics help, among many other tools. You can access this information by clicking here.

How to add Boards

You can use tools like Google Analytics to understand the things your guests are interested in. This will help you come up with content ideas for your Pinterest boards.. After you sign-up for Google Analytics, you need to let it run on your website for many weeks to collect enough data to work with.

Once it has collected enough data, you can find audience information inside. After logging in, you can click audience on the left-hand panel. You can get information such as age, gender, and interests. Cloudbeds, for example, lists interest such as computer/electronics/technology, travel/tourism, and food. So, if we were a hotel we would create boards that relate to each of these interests.

Google-Analytics-Audience-Example

For example, let’s say that Google Analytics shows you that your website gets lots of visitors from China using keywords related to “how to plan an African safari”. You can then create Pinterest boards like “Things every tourist from China needs to take on an African safari”, and so on.

To add boards, navigate to your profile by clicking your icon in the top right corner and click “My Profile.” On that page, you can click “Create a board” and enter the information. After you’ve created your boards, you can start adding pins. Click the plus sign on the top navigation and choose the image you want to upload then fill out the associated information.

How-to-Pinterest-User-Page

Captions

Captions on Pinterest work differently than on any other platform. Hashtags have no place on Pinterest and they highly recommend that you do not use them. Captions should be informative and thorough to offer users adequate information.

Every image you upload should link back to its original source or a place on your website. Your Pinterest strategy should be to inspire potential guests to book at your property, so backlinking your website is in your best interest.

Important Tips from Pinterest

Pinterest offers great getting started guides for businesses to get them started. They highlight what you should pin to give the best experience, how to curate, inspire, and inspire your audience.

Keep Your Potential Guests Interested

As I mentioned above, know your audience. To start, create boards that highlight your property and your destination. Then branch off into categories that are interesting to your target market, but maybe not directly related to your hotel. This is exactly where Four Seasons shines as we showed in the above screenshots.

Curate your Collection

Pinterest’s second piece of advice is to pin beautiful images to specific boards. Topic-focused boards do better than general boards. Users like to know exactly what they should expect from following any given board.

Hilton, for example, creates boards for timely events such as the GRAMMY awards and GLAAD 2015. When you create specific boards you have the opportunity to grab more niche attention. Pinterest allows users to follow individual boards, so sharing diverse content can work to your advantage.

Hilton-Grammy Pinterest Example

Show what inspires you  

Pinterest’s third piece of advice tells you to take your pins beyond your products. Showcase what inspires your best work. For travel, this could mean showcasing travel destinations that have inspired your hotel or hostel’s aesthetic. Hospitality brands, more than anything, are inspired by your love of culture and travel.

Showcase your property’s creative process to show guests what inspires your hotel on a daily basis. You could even include a board that highlights the places you and your staff hope to visit someday.

Authenticity Matters

Be authentic! If you’ve read the Cloudbeds blog before, you’ve heard this a hundred times or so. Your Pinterest should be used to display your brand’s personality and values. Showcase what you’re all about and drop what you’re not. Hospitality brands are often fueled by passion, so focus on how and what got you to this point. Don’t try to be anything you’re not and focus on what matters to your guests. Whether you own an adventure hostel or luxury boutique hotel, Pinterest can work for everyone.

On-going Maintenance

Pinterest is different than other platforms when it comes to posting strategy. Unlike other platforms, you do not need to post every day. When you first begin pinning, it will take a bit of time to create your boards and add pins. But, after the first push, you should spend at least an hour or so a week doing board ‘maintenance’. Add pins to your boards, follow people who have interacted with you, and create new boards as you find necessary.

Pinterest is a lot less real-time than any other platform. With that, it is still important to manage your pins and boards, because those who are more active are rewarded.

The Case for Pinterest

Pinterest is a lot of fun and their algorithm is powerful, making the experience new and different every time. Pinterest has continued to lure users with their endless stream of pretty pictures and sense of escapism. After you login and scroll through the feed for a bit, it might be hard to stop. As a travel brand, more likely than not, you’re interested in travel and exploring new places. Pinterest will ignite your interests, so setting up your account will feel less like a task and more like a fun exercise (in my opinion at least!).

There are many travelers on Pinterest and they are looking to be inspired. Your property can be the inspiration for them to a book a trip to stay with you and visit your destination. If you use Pinterest correctly, it can be a significant source of traffic to your website, and hence, a source of bookings.

Conclusion

Pinterest can be a very powerful tool for your hotel property. Travel bloggers, adventure-seeking travelers, and many other types of people frequent the site constantly to repin interesting content. Your pins and boards, when curated correctly, will help you extend your reach and help you tell your story.