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How Pinterest is Influencing the Way We Travel.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Weekly Exclusive Column
Wednesday, 13th June 2012
 
As a travel writer, I'm always inspired by the photographs other travelers take on their trips; I love seeing the world through their eyes -- how the ocean looks from their room, how the food looks on their plate, how the luggage looks when it's packed to the brim and ready to go to the airport. 

As a brand consultant, I'm always intrigued by how brands - especially those in luxury travel -portray themselves in pictures and words, on websites and in marketing collateral, and of course, live and in person. Thanks to Pinterest, the gap between consumer and brand is lessening giving new opportunity to new travel experiences.

In February I wrote about how hotels can increase their visibility on Pinterset, which at that time was a fairly new social media platform. 

Today, the Pinterest boards are so popular they've become a go-to when it comes to seeking inspiration for everything from planning a trip to finding a hotel room, booking excursions and even finding a place to dine in a new destination. Pinterest boards - which are organized into topics and include photographs from both the traveler and the brand - are proving inspirational, one picture at a time.

If you haven't used Pinterest yet, now's the best time to get on board (pun intended). It's free, it's easy, and it's a great way to see travel photos from around the world.  Search in both "boards" and "people" for keywords including names of hotels and resorts, airlines, vacations, tourism, luxury travel, family travel, etc. You'll get hundreds of results from a variety of people, places and companies. The photos make it easy for wanderlusters to dream of far away places, and for brands to assist in making those dreams  a reality.

Ritz-Carlton recently uploaded hundreds of photos from their hotels and resorts around the world. The photos are organized by location and include everything from dreamy hotel beds to grand swimming pools, mile-long beaches and stunning rooftop shots of city landscapes. The inspiration derived from these photos is endless. Weddings seems to be a hot topic from their guests, with many people posting their own photos from weddings at Ritz-Carlton's and pinning to the hotel company's board. The result: a colorful diorama of photographs that engage and inspire travelers.

XV Beacon in Boston organized their Pinterest board by themes such as architecture, pets, and "Around Boston," giving potential guests a glimpse of what the boutique hotel has to offer during a stay. The Relais & Chateux Blantyre Resort focused its Pinterest board on the hotel's distinct rooms. Each of the 21 rooms is uniquely designed with a certain pattern, theme or features a piece of history (examples include a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk and a commode once owned by Marilyn Monroe). Guests can choose the room they want to stay in when they make a reservation. 

While many hotel companies don't have dedicated Pinterest pages yet, travelers are using names of hotels to pin their impressions. Photos of Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental hotels from guests showcase stunning suites and landscapes, food and beverage options, and bath amenities from various hotels. Even airlines are pinning their favorite photos.

Virgin America showcases everything from their mood-lighting planes to flight attendant fashion. The airline uses photos to make flying fun, softening the typical frustrations most travelers associate with flying.

What's most interesting about Pinterest, however, is how complimentary the photos are from travelers themselves. You won't find many negative pics of dirty rooms, uncooked food or bad behavior caught on film here. Pinterest has taken on an more professional social platform experience, giving amateur photographers a place to showcase their various photo-capturing talents, whether from a Smartphone or camera. People are more concerned with making sure their photos look good, and less concerned with showcasing the odd and ugly - a win-win for consumers and brands, both who want to see the best of the best in their domains.

Of course, there are setbacks with Pinterest. Organization of photos is still a bit chaotic and with people pinning and tagging in different directions, a common search for "luxury hotels" can result in everything from pets on vacation to hotel lobby floral displays. The advantage of this, however, is that even a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting in a vintage vase and situated against a backdrop of the calming ocean waves can influence travel decisions.

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
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