Those of us who work in the travel industry know it's not enough to just connect with guests and consumers online - we have to be on top of all the ways communication works today; that means for hotels with thousands of rooms in hundreds of countries....
Keeping up with new forms of social media can get chaotic, but today's new media - and the way consumers approach new media - is all about being fast, influential and unique. So when I heard of Pinterest, a new social media platform built on the idea of posting pictures people find "inspirational", I was intrigued.
Can another new platform really peak interest? Will it help drive revenue to businesses or create new opportunities for consumers? Pinterest's concept is simple: find what you like on the web and "pin" it to your account (called "boards") so others can see it. This spans the gamut of industries from cooking to fashion to travel, but is it a worthwhile avenue for hotels to explore? Here's how it works:
Pinterest is an "online inspiration board" that allows users to create boards in different categories and pin things found on the web to those boards. You can also access other users boards, follow other Pinterest members, re-pin their photos and vice verse, and comment on photos One Twitter user, @DLPhotography, said it was a great way to "organize thoughts, projects, etc.", while @beasharif said it allows "your style and interests to show through. It's a platform of expression."So what does this mean for hotels?
After I signed up and scoped around the boards, I found hundreds of individual boards dedicated to hotel rooms, divided into categories like "best bathrooms," "bucket list travel," and destination-specific boards like "beaches" and "cities." You can create boards for any topic imaginable, but the possibilities for hotels are endless.
By setting up business profile pages (see an example from the Travel Channel here: http://pinterest.com/travelchannel
and creating sections for your hotel or brand that are relevant to your consumers, the Pinterest boards might just be a new avenue for displaying your hotel's best photography.
The downside? After a few days playing on Pinterest - both as a consumer and a business - I found the boards to be a bit chaotic. There isn't a defined hierarchy here - just a simple search that allows you to enter a term and watch what appears.
So if you search "hotel rooms" a plethora of pictures pop up - from the bold and beautiful, to others that might not make too much sense. Pinterest also automatically follows other people on the boards that have similar interests, and the only way I've found to "unfollow" people is to go to their page directly.
Given the background, just how relevant is Pinterest? If you believe the latest trend reports, you'll be seeing a lot more of this new social media platform in the future. It was recently named one of the top 10 social networks in 2012 by Hitwise, and it has the traffic to prove it. A
ccording to Hitwise, the site has over 4 million registered users and 1.5 million visit the site on a daily basis, spending approximately 14 minutes on the site on average.
The verdict: it's probably a little too early to tell, but I'll be watching the boards to see what people are posting from around the world, and I suggest hotels do, too... you never know what photo will end up on someone's Pinterest board.Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.
Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com