Pinterest, the hottest new trend in social media, can help travel sellers drive traffic to their websites, enhance customer service and connect with prospective new clients.
With more than 11 million unique visitors per month and 1.3 million daily visitors, Pinterest has surpassed Google+ in daily visitors. And, with users spending an average of 83 minutes per month, it ranks third behind Facebook and tumblr for time spent on a social media site.
But while many travel sellers have heard of Pinterest, few know exactly what it is and how it can be used as a business tool.
A visual bookmarking website
Travel Market Report checked in with social media expert and travel industry consultant Sophie Bujold to find out why travel sellers should be taking note of Pinterest.
“Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website. The comparison is that you’re creating all these bulletin boards (called pinboards or boards) that have themes to them and to which you can “pin” websites, photos and videos,” Bujold explained.
Everything you pin to a board is tied to a description you write, as well as a website you determine.
Users can search for themes to find pinboards they like and then follow either specific pinners or specific pinboards.
Driving website traffic
Pinterest’s stongest value proposition for travel sellers is its demonstrated ability to drive website traffic, Bujold said.
“On average, people who are using Pinterest for traffic generation are seeing about 5% of their total website traffic being directed from Pinterest, which is more than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined.”
So users aren’t just pinning their own content, they’re checking out other people’s pins and following the links back to the associated websites.
Travel sellers can use Pinterest in four distinct ways, Bujold said.
Content curation: Agents can enhance their image as a travel resource by collecting (or curating) useful information from around the web and organizing it into different boards.
For example, Bujold said she’s seen Disney specialists create boards that offer information just on Disney restaurants or just on how to get through the parks with young children. Other agents have created boards focused on photography tips, gear and luggage, and parks and gardens.
“You’re seeing a lot of that right now, where they’re just trying to be useful and a bit more of a resource for their audience,” she said.
Product boards: Travel sellers can use Pinterest to create product boards, including for tours and niche areas in which they specialize. These boards essentially become “inspiration boards” for people looking for travel ideas. And for agents organizing their own tours/groups, Pinterest even lets you attach a price to something you’ve pinned.
Content research: Agents involved in social media know their blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts always need content. Pinterest is a great place to find interesting things to share on these networks. And what you find is always visual, which is great for social media.
Connecting with people: While not as chummy as Facebook, there is social interaction on Pinterest, Bujold noted.
“You can share someone else’s pin and you can leave comments. You can create connections with users who have content that you really like and vice versa. It’s especially great with the new Facebook timeline because the focus is so much on the visual.”
A source for travel prospects
Who are the people agents can expect to connect with on Pinterest? Many users are likely travel prospects, often educated women in their prime earning years.
A whopping 70% of Pinterest users are women, with most ranging in age from 25 to 44 years old. More than half (60%) have some college education and while the average household income is $25,000 to $75,000, 30% have an income of $100,000 or more. Additionally, about half of Pinterest users have children.
“Pinterest gives them an outlet to find things like great food tips and ways to make their lives easier, including ways to travel with their families and friends,” Bujold said.
Beyond demographics, three specific psychographic groups (as defined by the Experian Mosaic system) use the social network. The most important to travel sellers are the “Boomers and Boomerangs,” baby boomers and young adult children living with them, who collectively represent about 10% to 20% of Pinterest users.
This group “is highly likely to pin travel plans and photos,” Bujold said.
Other psychographic groups are “Babies & Bliss,” parents in their 30s and 40s with large families, and “Families Matter Most,” mostly young, middle class families with active lifestyles.
The former group tends to pin things related to deals on high-quality products, brands and life conveniences, while the latter is interested in things that allow them to juggle work and parenting, such as easy recipes, child-friendly activities and healthy living.