REPORT FROM THE U.S.— Pinterest, one of the fastest-growing social-media sites in history, has many hoteliers pondering how to best incorporate it into their social-networking repertoire.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, for one, was quick to adapt under the guidance of Felicia Yukich, the company’s manager of social-media marketing. Guided by the mantra, “the whole total is always greater than the sum of its parts,” she saw Pinterest as another opportunity to syndicate content and add to the brand’s ever-growing portfolio of social platforms.
“Something like Pinterest, which is highly visual and a strong SEO and Web traffic driver, immediately caught our attention,” Yukich said. “Half of our job is selling the destination just as much as it’s selling the bricks and mortar, especially for Four Seasons, which is highly customized and experiential.”
Pinterest, a “virtual pin board” that allows users to pin pictures, articles and other content collected from all over the Internet for their friends and followers to see, has grown 52% from January to February, according to comScore data. It now boasts 17.8 million users.
Director of business development with ReviewPro
Josiah MacKenzie, director of business development with ReviewPro, a company that helps hoteliers manage their online reputation, said the platform is especially advantageous for hotels and businesses that focus on the lifestyle segment.
“The hotels that have great content with a team of people who have a great sense of style, they’re great content aggregators in that they’re checking all these different sources and giving us a carefully curated stream of images and ideas,” he said. “Listening and being able to identify cool new content is important.”
Take the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, for example. Located off Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, the independent property’s Pinterest page features boards including “Explore the Best of NYC,” “Eats & Drinks,” “Weddings,” “Historic New York,” “NYC Photography” and “Happenings & Events in NYC.”
The Roosevelt also has an “Explore the Roosevelt Hotel” pin board where contests and promotions will be held in the future, said Kelli Crean, The Roosevelt Hotel’s ecommerce manager.
“Because Pinterest is peaking now, we’re trying to stay a little more active on there to gain that community because everybody’s logging on right now and embracing it,” she said. “Once we’ve tried a bunch of different approaches, we then proceed to kind of look at the big picture and see what’s really going to help us achieve our goals whether it’s from a branding, positioning or conversion standpoint.”
Capturing your audience
Four Seasons just went live with its Pinterest page last week. Although it is in its infancy, the brand page comprises insights gleaned from three trial runs at properties in Beverly Hills, California; Chicago; and Austin, Texas.
“We know this is something we want to be in, and our history shows we like to get into platforms early, test and trial, and see what works, see what doesn’t,” Yukich said. “Then once we understand how it could affect the outcome specifically (at these properties), we develop a strategy to roll it out globally.”
Crean adopted a similar trial-by-fire approach for the The Roosevelt when the hotel’s Pinterest page launched a little more than three weeks ago.
When it comes to pinning, the breakdown will be approximately 70% about the city and 30% about the hotel, Crean said.
“I think that we will build a community, which we learned from Twitter and Facebook, by embracing the city,” she said. “Once we have the audience, then we are able to speak a little more about the hotel.”
MacKenzie said it’s a smart move to understand who your hotel is trying to reach.
“When it comes to social media, branding in general of hotels is a little bit of, ‘where we are right now’ and ‘where we want to go,’” he said.
Conveying that through curated content on pin boards will allow travelers to better identify with a given hotel.
“This is a platform for us to really share with everyone our brand’s personality,” Yukich said. “How creative you can be on here is what’s really going to separate the winners from the losers.”
What are hotels pinning?
Yukich hopes some of the programs Four Seasons created for Facebook and Twitter can carry over to Pinterest.
Manager of social-media marketing for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
The company’s “Have family will travel” blog, for example, which features content from traveling mothers of real families around the world, will be re-imagined on Pinterest as a pin board dedicated to families.
“And now through Pinterest, it will really elevate the program,” she said.
Some of Four Seasons other pin boards will include “Resort Fashions: Need it. Want it. Gotta Have It!,” “Traveler Edition: Need It. Want it. Gotta Have It!” and “Wish You Were Here…”
“Wish You Were Here…” is a series from Four Seasons’ Facebook pages that allows travelers to post their own photos of their hotel experiences. The campaign was such a hit with users that the company expanded to Pinterest.
Yukich said each of Four Seasons’ 86 properties will create their own Pinterest boards with many of the same pin boards, but no one page will look the same.
“We want a Pinterest account from Maldives to look very different than the Pinterest account in Singapore because they’re two completely different experiences,” Yukich said. “As much as we want to have some level of brand consistency, it really is about telling that unique story and showcasing the cultural personality of the property.”
MacKenzie advised new users to think like photojournalists.
“We are increasingly becoming a visual society online,” he said. “We need to think about how to tell and share a story through images.”
Crean wants to allow The Roosevelt’s followers to tell part of that story through a crowd-sourced pin board; here users will be allowed to pin photos from the hotel to that pin board much like they would to the hotel’s Facebook, which is still the property’s go-to social network.
Managing your social media
Out of Yukich’s Toronto-based office, she and her staff manage all the brand’s social-media platforms.
“We do all the setup, administration and social-media optimization for all the local platforms,” she said. “At each property worldwide, there’s a dedicated PR team in marketing that manages the local presence for social media, which we will now add Pinterest to that managing portfolio.”
From there it is up to them to embrace innovation, and Yukich said many properties already are raising their hands to get started.
Since The Roosevelt is an independent property, Crean does all the social-media management herself. This includes management of the Roosevelt’s social media along with its two outlets, Mad46, the rooftop lounge, and Vander Bar. One brand page exists for the three outlets on Pinterest, but each of the three has separate identities on Facebook and Twitter.
“I don’t know what the regular activity is going to be moving forward because we are putting so much pressure on it in the beginning,” she said. “With Facebook, we post two to three times a day, but with Pinterest it could be even more than that.”
I think you might have left out an important part of Pinterest use. The people using Pinterest can easily post photos of rooms, a lobby or any other area.
If the hotel is not performing proper maintenance the speed at which negative photos attack a hotel's image far exceeds any online review or hotel self posting.
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