Software Advice, a source for hotel software reviews, recently published the following article: ”Pinterest is the fastest-growing social channel today, and people are using it for more than just sharing recipes and fashion tips. Travel pins are hugely popular, now totaling over 750 million—and Pinterest is becoming a top tool travelers use to plan their vacations”.
Despite this, few hotels are utilizing the strategic marketing potential of Place Pins, which allow users to create sharable maps with “pins” corresponding to locations such as restaurants, shops and other businesses.
This new feature opens up a powerful opportunity for hotel marketers to attract specific segments of travelers. By creating maps with Place Pins for nearby amenities that would appeal to certain types of guests—and linking to your hotel’s booking page—you can drive direct bookings from certain traveler segments.
I gathered ideas from expert hotel marketers on how to build and promote specific Place Pin maps that attract five common types of travelers, and included tips for each kind of map. Here’s how to build these maps for your hotel, too.
Wedding Parties: Create a Keyword-Rich Planning Guide
An estimated 2.2 million weddings are anticipated in 2014, so using a free tool like Pinterest to market your hotel to brides, grooms and wedding guests is a smart move. I’ve created a Place Pin map for an imaginary Chicago wedding, listing the many resources brides and grooms require to plan their big day.
On your hotel’s wedding map, point out bridal shops, places to buy or rent men’s suits and well-reviewed beauty salons. Pin a popular brunch spot near the hotel, so the wedding party has a great place to refuel the day after the ceremony. Pin popular venues for the ceremony and reception—and, of course, don’t forget to include your hotel on the map. Other ideas might include romantic spots for wedding photos, such as local parks or beaches, and limousine services.
Once this board is created, you have to make sure Pinterest users can find it. Anna Bennett is a social media marketing strategist and founder of White Glove Social Media, a marketing company focused on helping businesses use Pinterest effectively. According to Bennett, the most important marketing practice for Place Pins is to optimize them to be searched and found quickly.
“Pinterest users look for things… when they need help, so they’re likely going to search for something like ‘wedding planning tips’,” she says. “Businesses have to be strategic in their board titles to make sure their boards show up first.”
Load the title and description of your boards with keywords that your target segment is likely to search for on Pinterest—in this case, words like “bride,” “groom,” “wedding,” “married,” “ceremony,” “planning” and “tips.” I also included another name for Chicago (the Windy City) in the description to avoid redundant words and increase the chances of being successfully searched.
Board titles are limited to 100 characters, and descriptions are capped at 500 characters. Bennett recommends only using as many words as are necessary to accurately describe the pin with keywords.
“It’s a visual platform, so you just need enough of a caption to grab them,” she says.
Families: Create Detailed Descriptions of Family Attractions
Families are spending more money on vacations than ever: nearly $5,000 on average. Promoting popular family-friendly attractions near your hotel with Place Pins can draw those travelers in. Here’s an example of a Place Pin map for a family vacation to Orlando.
Hotels should list all the major family attractions within driving distance of the property. Here, I’ve included pins for each of the area’s major theme parks, such as SeaWorld, Disney World and Universal Studios. Another option the whole family could enjoy is a sports game at the local stadium.
Parents who search Pinterest for family travel ideas might also be attracted by pins for more educational options, such as science or art museums. Hotels without major theme parks or attractions nearby could create a map that includes nearby parks, movie theaters or historical sites.
Ben Goldstein, a social media specialist at hospitality marketing firm Vizergy, suggests loading each pin description with as much information on the location as possible. This way, parents planning a trip can learn everything they need to know about the attraction without navigating away from your hotel’s booking page link. They can then use your hotel’s map as a comprehensive guide as they ferry the family from place to place.
“You want to put every little detail so they don’t leave your Pinterest page,” Goldstein says. “It’s a lot of work, but in the long run, it’s an investment that will stay there for future guests.”
Include more than what a traveler could find in a quick Google search. Leverage your advantage as a local: connect with management from nearby attractions to find out the best times to visit, or discover special discounts not promoted nationwide. These are the details travelers normally look for on other websites—so provide enough detail to keep them on yours.
Couples: Craft a Landing Page That Encourages Bookings
Couples who travel typically look for activities that allow them to spend quality time together. Hotels targeting these travelers should pin romantic locations, like those I created on the map for a romantic Seattle trip.
This map includes locations that entertain, but still allow for one-on-one time. Here, I’ve pinned botanical gardens and a local park that offers a beautiful view of the skyline and sunset. Hotels could also pin a nearby flower shop and a highly-rated romantic restaurant to help create a special moment, or point out a ferry ride to an isolated location.
Some marketers suggest creating landing pages for specific segments of users who reach your site through Pinterest. This can give hotels additional opportunities to entice traveling couples to book directly by using targeted marketing, says Rajesh Rajan, CEO of IntentEra, which offers online marketing solutions for hotels.
For users who arrive at your page from the couples’ Place Pin map, create a landing page that highlights romantic aspects of your hotel’s bar and restaurant. Better yet, Rajan says, display the photo, name and number of the hotel concierge. Then encourage them to call the concierge to recommend nearby activities and amenities ideal for couples.
Foodies: Use Employees to Gather Local Recommendations
Food is a big part of treating yourself while on vacation. Many travelers even cross the country to find fresh, innovative and exotic dishes. Using a Place Pins map to showcase images of the one-of-a-kind foods near your hotel is a recipe for direct bookings.
For the imagined Austin foodie trip, we used Yelp to find the top-rated local restaurants. Yelp is a good resource to find these, Goldstein says, but hotels should also include places that are lesser-known or up-and-coming establishments: the ones the locals would suggest.
“The idea is to make someone feel welcome in the new area they’re visiting,” he says. “You want to try to show them everything the locals love.”
If it’s local information you’re after, go directly to the source: give your employees access to the map. Let them pin their own favorite food destinations and add their own photos of restaurants and dishes. Going further, give your customers access to the map to create an ever-growing resource for travelers who want to find a good meal and to gain exposure for your hotel’s Pinterest boards.
Adventurers: Optimize Maps for Mobile Use
For travelers who are constantly on the go, offer a map with outdoor activities that show off the natural beauty of the area. This map, for an outdoors and athletic San Diego trip, includes the most exhilarating activities the city has to offer.
An imagined San Diego adventurer’s Place Pin map
Tell users about the most popular outdoor and athletic activities for your area—in this example, surfing, snorkeling and kayaking businesses that offer rentals and classes. Also include locations like parks and bike and hike trails for riding or jogging, along with places to buy or rent equipment, such as sporting goods stores.
Since adventurous travelers are always on the move, make sure your hotel optimizes the maps for mobile use, which Bennett says accounts for 70 percent of Pinterest users. The Pinterest mobile app will display the first four boards listed on your page, so position your Place Pin maps on the top row to ensure mobile users can access them quickly.
When promoting these maps through your social channels, email or marketing materials, remember: always link back to your hotel’s booking page. Creating Place Pin maps requires some time and effort, but if you optimize for Pinterest search and mobile use, use detailed Place Pin descriptions, create targeted landing pages and leverage local knowledge, you can drive bookings from targeted traveler segments and increase your customer base.