Pinterest and tourism: visual inspiration for your visitors

Pinterest Board with Etsy products made in Columbus OH (click through for full board)Most of you probably have the same reaction that I do when someone announces a “new social network”  –  oh, no, not ANOTHER one!

It’s enough to keep juggling the time-suck challenges of all the current ones, right?

So, it takes a lot for me to pay attention to yet another way to stare at some sort of glowing screen, and I have to see the new tool’s application to tourism and hospitality since that’s my business.

That’s why I’m not interested in Google+ right now (other than its implications for search) but I’m quite intrigued by Pinterest, a digital bulletin board or scrapbook that allows people to “pin” interesting photos onto a themed Board.

I first noticed some tourism geeks talking about it around August 2011, then in November 2011 BusinessWeek ran the article, “Why Image-Sharing Network Pinterest is Hot“.

The service is taking off like crazy, especially among those who like visual inspiration: photographers, travelers, decorators and stylists, designers and food enthusiasts.  If you know the story of the Fiskateers and crafting, you know that a lot of activity and discussion can happen in a passionate niche.

CVB/DMO and Hotel Pinterest Boards

What are the possibilities for tourism?

Boards could focus on your unique local foods, architecture, shopping, birding, special events or historic sites. The more specific and visually appealing, the better.

Pinterest Board for St Patrick's Day in Savannah (click through to see the full Board)

Some examples:

**  Visit Savannah on Pinterest  –  they created an inspiration Board (shown to the right) for St. Patrick’s Day, which is a HUGE annual event in Savannah.

**  Visit Jordan on Pinterest  –  the famous ruins at Petra are certainly magnificent, but how about the curative powers of country’s places to relax?

**  Indiana Tourism on Pinterest  –  get hungry looking at their Super 46 Board of sandwiches in honor of the NFL Super Bowl #46 in Indianapolis.  Need ideas for social media integration? Note how the sandwiches campaign also shows up on the Visit Indiana blog (the Pick Your Favorite Super 46 Sandwich(es) post,) on Yelp via each sandwich restaurant’s page, on Twitter via sandwich-related tweets with the #Super46 hashtag and on their Facebook Page by status updates that highlight each sandwich, often with a video that’s also on YouTube.

**  Canton/Stark County, Ohio on Pinterest  –  building up their local Restaurants Board.

**  Wyoming Tourism on Pinterest  –  the Boards you’d expect (incredible vistas and Western stuff) but I really like their Hidden Treasures Board.

**  Experience Columbus, Ohio  –  many exciting Boards, but here’s a nice plug for local Columbus-based crafters:  a Columbus on Etsy/Made Here Board.

**  The Hotel Klausnerhof, Hintertux, Austria  –  how about this Advent calendar Board of snowy Tyrol photos?

Pinterest Board on wedding trends Four Seasons Austin (click through to see full Board)

**  The Four Seasons Hotel in Austin  –  still a pretty new account, but I like the thought behind this 2012 Wedding Trends Board.

**  Guatemala’s Pacific Fins Resort and Marina  –   for Hemingway-esque, The Old Man and the Sea types, a Blue Water Fishing Board.

To look for other examples, try a People search on Pinterest for CVB or Visit or Tourism or Hotel.

Pinterest Can Help With SEO

Just as with photos, video or other visual social communications, spend a little time on the descriptive text of your pinned images;  all of that text can be crawled and indexed by search engines.

Yes, Pinterest counts for SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) Direct link to the SEO for Pinterest video below, by a  bridal consultant.

Also note that each Board has a Facebook “Like” button, which can help spread your curation across your follower’s Facebook networks.

Pinterest is the topic of the January 19, 2012 #tourismchat on Twitter – I’ll update this post afterward with a link to the transcript.

Update:  Here’s the 19 Jan #tourismchat transcript (about Pinterest) via Chirpstory

Update 2:  My friend Troy Thompson has a terrific interview post featuring Joe Vargo, who runs the Columbus, Ohio Pinterest Boards mentioned above.  Get some insights from Joe’s experiences:  5 Questions – Joe Vargo on Pinterest 

The possibilities are pretty endless, aren’t they?

(If you like this post, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS feed or by email – the email signup box is on the right sidebar near the Search box. Thanks!) 

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32 Responses to Pinterest and tourism: visual inspiration for your visitors

  1. Great post Sheila.

    Pinterest has me wondering about how DMOs communicate and inspire potential visitors. I realize that my following statement is a bit simplistic, but it is just so intriguing.

    If you could rebuild your DMO’s website, you would built it to look and feel like Pinterest.

    Honestly, what better way to inspire visitors than with a ton of amazing images? Skip the text, just show me the good stuff.

    A guide to the good stuff, if you will.

    – Troy

    • Sheila says:

      Hi Troy,

      I could certainly see a Pinterest feel coming to CVB/DMO websites; we’re already seeing more and more large photo carousel styles, and of course the Pure New Zealand website is almost all imagery. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Sheila,

    Pinterest is indeed the talk of the town, and I certainly hope it won’t go like Quora did early in 2011. In the case of Pinterest, as most will agree, there is tremendous value and shareability in pictures. Specially in the travel and tourism world. So it will be interesting to see how the travel industry embraces it.

    In case you missed it, Pinterest was one of the 60 apps announced with Facebook’s new open graph yesterday, meaning it will be fully integrated, along with other known brands like TripAdvisor, AirBnB, Gogobot, Where I have been, and Wipolo.

    Full article here, on Mashable:

    Frederic Gonzalo´s last [post] ..How digital devices affect family togetherness

  3. Sheila says:

    Hi Frederic,

    I did see that announcement, but haven’t had a chance to really dig into it. Thanks for the reminder (and yes, Quora did rather flame out, didn’t it?)

  4. Amy B. says:

    Really enjoyed this post, Sheila! I’m loving the Visit Indiana Super 46 Sandwich Board, what a smart way to capitalize on such a huge event with visuals that will work well across all of the social networks.

    Pinterest is giving us a creative way to go beyond the website and really focus on niches that are unique to our destinations. So much potential here! And for those of us who are membership based organizations, inclusion on our Boards is a great benefit to them.
    Amy B.´s last [post] ..Civil War Savannah Cultural Programs

  5. Sheila says:

    Love what you guys are doing in Savannah, Amy – I visited briefly a few years ago, but looking at your Boards really makes me want to return. 🙂

    Nice point about this as a member marketing benefit, too.

  6. Lara Dickson says:

    Great round up, Sheila. You beat me to posting about Visit Savannah’s jam-packed Pinterest board! I find their boards something like travel p0rn. Definitely an asset any DMO can and should adopt. See you on #tourismchat…

  7. Allyson says:

    Thank you so much for this post on how to fully utilize Pinterest for DMO’s. We have been using Pinterest for a few months at the Monterey County CVB and have found it very useful, not to mention fun! We will be implementing a few of your helpful tips onto our boards and pins. Thanks again!
    You can find us at:
    Allyson´s last [post] ..Angelique Kidjo at t

  8. Allyson says:

    P.S. Any helpful hints on how to increase the number of followers on Pinterest?

  9. Kerri Holden says:

    Sheila – Thanks so much for including us on your CVB/DMO list! As you mention, we’re still new to Pinterest but we’re excited to showcase what Austin (and the Hotel) has to offer. New board ideas include Quintessential Austin, Texas wine country, Made in Austin, etc. so stay tuned…

    Kerri Holden, PR Director
    Four Seasons Hotel Austin

  10. Sheila says:

    Appreciate all of the additional comments. It was a lively #tourismchat today on the topic of Pinterest, so don’t miss a look at the transcript (going up soon; I’ll link to it in the body of the post.)

  11. Cheryl Smith says:


    Like you, I’m careful about how many more social networks I join. There are already far too many to manage effectively, but Pinterest is worth watching and exploring. The explosive growth is crazy and the implications are significant for many types of businesses.

    This is a great, practical post for folks in your industry. I’m sharing with tourism people I know.
    Cheryl Smith´s last [post] ..My Tongue Is Numb

  12. Dominique says:

    I’ve been wondering about Pinterest couldn’t get to #tourismchat yesterday…so I really appreciate this round-up of travel-related Pinterest pages. It does look like something that could work well for Midwest Guest as photos are such a huge part of my site 🙂
    Dominique´s last [post] ..Read up on the Brumback Library in Van Wert, Ohio

    • Sheila says:

      Sure, Dominique. I’d say that one Board could be pics of places and things that no one would expect to find in the Midwest. As a person who is woefully ignorant of the region myself, I’d suggest starting with an amazing Sleeping Bear Dunes photo. The first time I saw one, then learned it was in Michigan and not in, say, Namibia, I was gobsmacked.

      Yes, I always look for excuses to use the word “gobsmacked.”

      Once you get a good Board going, ping the US Travel Association about it on Facebook or Twitter. They’re always looking for things to show international travelers who want to go beyond “the usual” New York/San Francisco destinations.

  13. Colleen Pence says:

    Check out what the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau is doing with Pinterest.

    I see so many amazing applications for Pinterest for CVBs, Hotels, and so many other industries. It’s fun and exciting to see the variety of ways in which people and businesses are using and embracing Pinterest.

    I’m also collecting stories about Pinterest on my Pinterest board – news, tips, ideas – and I’ll include your post, Sheila. Great stuff!
    Colleen Pence´s last [post] ..Cool ideas and hacks for your new Facebook Timeline Cover Photo, Part 2

    • Sheila says:

      Too bad the Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg closed, Colleen; you could do a whole board on only that place!

      Very nice of you to add this to your own Pinterest tips Board – please consider including Troy Thompson’s interview post with Columbus, Ohio’s Joe Vargo, too.

  14. Donna Hull says:

    For travel bloggers, do you recommend setting up a Pinterest site in the name of the blog or the blogger’s name? Which is best?

    • Sheila says:

      Hi Donna! For any new service like this, I’d say start a personal profile and spend some time figuring it out. Better to make a few mistakes on your own before putting your “business face” on something that you don’t really know how to use yet.

  15. Sheila says:

    Worth noting – I’m watching the traffic stats on this post, and lots more people than usual are clicking the individual links within the post, mostly to the various Pinterest Boards that I’ve highlighted. Really – I think there’s something different about Pinterest. It bears careful watching.

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  18. Anna Pollock says:

    Thank you Sheila and Troy for your posts on Pinterest. Women (like me) love it – simple AND pretty. Women make most of the travel decisions for families and couples. Since a picture is worth a 1000 words – what a lot of bang for your click.

    I love the #Frifotos concept too.@iVisitorGuide created a neat synopsis

    Exciting and fun. I enjoyed experimenting for my client in Samoa – end result pure icandy but inspiring too:

    Obviously, we’ve much to learn by sharing experience and I appreciate your generosity.

    • Sheila says:

      Hi Anna,

      I need to spend a little more time messing around with my own ideas for a board or two. My first attempt is bor-ing. 🙂

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  21. Thank you for sharing. Looking at some of the profile you linked to gave me inspiration on how to make my account more interesting. I’m a visual person myself so I can see how this service would add great value and help with SEO. Any tips on how to get more followers?

  22. Sheila says:

    Hi Maxine,

    Re: getting more followers. I don’t know that I would approach Pinterest like that, at least right now. Not sure that you want to get into a numbers game; what would be the point? I’d give the same advice that I would for a blog: create fabulous and helpful content (you have a lot of options given your luxury niche), interact on other boards, and let your current networks know that you are on Pinterest and specifically what you pin.

  23. Amelie Hunter says:

    I am totally clueless about Pinterest and am excited to learn about it and how I can use it.. Thanks for sharing.
    Amelie Hunter´s last [post] ..back of the site index

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  26. wilford James says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight on how to use Pinterest for tourism. I created an account a few weeks ago, but wasn’t sure of what to do with it until now. You make it sound so simple. I will spend sometime creating the perfect board for my business, thanks to you
    wilford James´s last [post] ..Roatan Bay Island

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