Using Pinterest for Travel Planning

Travel Media Sales & Marketing Executive
Published 3/7/19
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I recently attended the Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism, and one of the break-out sessions was titled, “The Power of Pinterest and Visually Stunning Content.” As an occasional user of Pinterest, I have a few boards that I've made for redecorating rooms in my home, workouts or recipes that I've come across, and inspiring DIY projects, but I'd never really used it to look for travel inspiration.

The more that I thought about it, though, Pinterest makes the perfect place to research travel ideas because the content is completely visual. In fact, with over 200 million monthly users, 68% of the Pinterest audience is actively building boards for activities in places where they plan to travel, and 93% of users are planning future travel purchases. Equally interesting is the fact that Pinterest has now been ranked as one of the top three travel sites for U.S. travelers, just behind TripAdvisor and Expedia. With so many people now using the site for travel planning, it makes a perfect channel for destinations and companies to have a strong branding presence and visually stunning content.

So, I went into the break-out session and came out with all sorts of tips on using Pinterest from a travel marketing perspective. Here are my top three:

#1: Consider itinerary needs

People searching for travel options on Pinterest tend to be very general with their search terms, so it's helpful to think of activities that are popular or create itineraries that will peak interest. Incorporating popular keywords into your pins will drive traffic to your board. A few popular searches (using Chicago as an example) are:          

  • Chicago travel
  • Things to do in Chicago   
  • Best food in Chicago
  • Chicago-style food
  • Downtown Chicago
  • Chicago itinerary
  • Restaurants in Chicago

2.  Seek out user-generated content

Sometimes the best content comes directly from your audience, and Pinterest is full of great photos that users have pinned will traveling. It's important to encourage guests to use branded hashtags and be aware when guests are posting content from your location or business. You can often repost the content to your own boards by simply asking the original pinner for permission. People love to have their photos shared, so the vast majority of the time they are happy to share.

You can also generate interest for guests taking photos to share online. Recently, Prince Edward Island held a photo contest that prompted visitors to submit alluring photos that they captured in the destination. They awarded prizes to the best photos in categories that included: Scenics, Shoreline, Nature, People, On Vacation and Culinary, to name a few. This resulted in PEI obtaining hundreds of beautiful images for very little cost and creating some great engagement with their audience.

Another way to encourage guests to submit online content is to create photo prompts in your destination. Whether it be a well-known picture spot or a unique photo opportunity showcasing your destination in an interesting way, use signs or plaques that encourage visitors to take photos in the area using specific hashtags.   

3. Pin in advance of travelers’ planning cycles   

The average trip planner is searching Pinterest at least three months prior to their visit, so create itineraries well ahead of this cycle. You can create seasonal boards with recommended things to try that will inspire visitors' travel bucket lists.

From planning what to do, where to stay, local culinary treats and fabulous attractions to experience, Pinterest is a great way to plan a trip and serves as an engaging platform for marketing your destination or business with an engaged audience.