Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Travel Marketers: 3 Ways To Drive Engagement For Tourism Brands Through Pinterest

As a travel brand marketer, one thing you need to remember is that travelers rely increasingly on visuals when planning for a trip, therefore travel brands must leverage underused visual platforms like Pinterest to gain new opportunities to engage with customers. As a graduate student in Northwestern University's Integrated Marketing Communications Program with a passion in the travel industry, my research have presented two articles on why and how travel brands should continue exploring new, innovative and strategic ways to use this specific channel. 

The first article, One View On The Top Trends in Travel Advertising by Nick Vivion highlights patterns in social media marketing for travel brands through research done on travel advertisers regarding which social media platforms are found to be most effective. The main takeaway is that people are drawn to images and video content, and a large part of travel planning is dedicated to visual research. However, there is a lack of willingness on experimenting with visual social media platforms like Pinterest. Only 28% of travel advertisers plan to experiment with Pinterest this year, despite the high level of user and engagement growth and its visual interface that lends itself for travel marketing to millenials. 

In her article Can Tourism and DMO’s Marketing Strategies Leverage Pinterest’s New Features Lydia Boyce furthered this notion of using Pinterest for travel marketing by discussing the importance of using visuals smartly. The new Pinterest feature, Rich pins, allow businesses to categorize their pins and send targeted messages to potential customers. Features like place pins let users identify places they would like to visit, or have visited before, leaving more information for people to plan their trips and to recommend/share to social media friends. The product pin allows brands to give product details such as price and where to buy the product, which can be utilized to sell hotel or event packages that would be pinned to the user’s Pinterest board, ready to be revisited once they have booked the ticket. It is important to be innovative in the way we reach the Pinterest community.

Based on these two articles and my graduate studies at Medill IMC, here are three action items I recommend for optimal engagement on Pinterest.
  • Engage with Influencers: Gain credibility and reach by working together with Pinterest influencers and travel bloggers, collaborating your Pinterest board content together.
  • Engage with Customer Pins: Ask customers to contribute to your Pinterest board by posting photos from their travel, or posting pictures of where they want to travel. This gives you a better idea of what customers are looking for in terms of content and travel packages.
  • Engage with Rich Pins: Integrate rich pins feature to the overall story of your board, making sure you are giving customers the information they need for increased conversion potential.
It is important to understand that travel marketers should not just use Pinterest for the sake of adding another social media channel. The key is to engage users on that visual platform by thinking of creative and innovative ways to foster engagement that can ultimately lead to improved online conversions. 

Raissa Smarasista is a M.S. candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, specializing in branding and strategic communications and graduating in December 2015. Her passion in the travel industry motivates her goal to help tourism brands engage with customers in a more meaningful way. 

Contact via Twitter @smarasista or LinkedIn. 

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