by Steve Keenan
Lynette Crisp, Head of Marketing at Visit Kent, today asks on Linked-in: “Are any destination marketers seeing any real results from Pinterest?”
It’s a question many Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) are asking. Less than nine months since the site came out of beta, Pinterest has been widely discussed – but few have gotten to grips with its potential.
Not surprisingly, the best results have been achieved in North America. Nancy Marshall of The Maine Office of Tourism says: “In the past few months, Pinterest has driven more traffic to VisitMaine.com than Twitter.” (Find 40 US states using Pinterest).
Strong visuals, with deep links, are a natural for a destination looking to show off its best side, in photos and video. And according to one commercial website, powerofpinning.com, Pinterest is now generating more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined – hence the latent desire among DMOs to get on board.
Monique Wells was another marketer, based in Paris, who used a Linked-in discussion board to gather users’ thoughts on the site four months ago. The feedback convinced her – and four days ago, Discover Paris went live. The site followed hot on the heels of another DMO site – Visit Holland and joins other newcomers, including Queensland.
But while DMOs are now harnessing the potential, other sectors in travel have not been so quick to pick up their pins. Bloggers have been better than most, but their efforts have often meant simply switching from Flickr to post their images. On a tweet-out this morning, Thailand-based blogger Timo Kiviluoma suggested: “Narrow your scope. Get a several boards. Pin regularly.”
Beers and Beans is streets ahead of most bloggers, with nearly 10,000 pins posted – and 10,000 followers. It’s a mix of her own images and others and I’d be astonished if it hasn’t led to commissions and other work. And new social travel site Trippy.com was so taken with Pinterest that it wholeheartedly copied the look in building its own pages.
Users should be aware that some images and links are being copied by spammers who re-link to their own sites or viruses. The Linked-in discussion launched by Discover Paris contains some useful advice on using low-res pics, and watermarking photos (try www.picmonkey.com).
But with 82% of Pinterest users being women – who make most travel decisions – the potential is too huge to ignore. Of those in travel actively using Pinterest, some are overtly commercial, like Club Med which features only its clubs – whereas others, like Virgin Atlantic’s new site, cleverly bases its photography on the cities that the airline flies to. Say’s Virgin’s Maxine Sheppard: “When I pay it attention, we get some traffic off it. It’s one of those things where you need to maintain it consistently to get benefit.”
Expedia attempts the same on a much grander scale while Abercrombie & Kent Villas mixes in its own commercials with repins from other sites. Others use it well simply for inspiration, such as The Travel Channel and Travelocity.
But it is noticeable that perhaps the biggest beneficiaries, tour operators, are barely out of the blocks. You’d have thought that this group, having established copyright but already in possession of images used for brochures and adverts, would be on top of the game. One enthusiastic user is UK-based operator, Destinology – others would benefit from following its example.
I also enjoy the eclectic boards on Toronto-based Trufflepig Travel. But perhaps my favourite is Croft Global Travel in Virginia, USA, which not only has wish lists but entertaining boards on travel gear, apps, books, waterfalls – and licence plates. Go browse.