Many hosts use Airbnb as the proverbial one basket to keep all their eggs.
Not only are there many other channels to promote your listing on, but you also are paying a lot of commissions to them.
Direct bookings is an interesting route, because you take full control of your business. But you'll need to spend some time on vacation rental marketing.
If you decide to pivot your business to renting to travel nurses, for instance, you have full control over everything.
In fact, many hosts have created their own Airbnb hosting websites to avoid the limitations of these platforms.
However, there’s one social platform that almost all Airbnb hosts have overlooked: Pinterest.
With over 335 million monthly active users, Pinterest is the third-largest social network in the US. This is a goldmine opportunity for hosts to attract and convert new visitors into paying guests.
Get in-depth training about direct bookings and vacation rental marketing in the Inner Circle
This article will explore how you can use Pinterest to advertise your short-term rentals and drive direct bookings.
Pinterest is essentially your own internet billboard. This can include your own personal interests or business offerings.
However, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Pinterest. While Pinterest is still home to many elaborate mood boards, it’s evolved greatly since it was founded in 2010. It’s both a social media platform and a search engine.
Pinterest is a unique platform, in that users search for images with words. This way of searching clearly resonates with users, witnessed by the 2+ billion searches on Pinterest every month.
What does this mean for short-term rental hosts?
You now have a chance to have your listing show up in the Pinterest search results.
In fact, if we look at market shares of popular social media platforms, Pinterest is the third-most visited social media network.
This reveals a huge opportunity for you because so many short-term rental hosts are on Facebook and Instagram but very few are on Pinterest.
A lot of people use Pinterest for vacation planning.
So, if guests are planning a vacation to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, they’ll search for “Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen”.
Clicking on any of the resulting pins will open a card with the image, title, short description, and link to a relevant piece of content on your site.
In that article, you can create a guide of what guests could do in your city and promote your listing under the “Places to Stay” section.
Users on Pinterest don’t consume content the same way they do on Facebook, Instagram, or Google. Many people use Pinterest to save or share Pins (images).
Pins are saved to a user’s Pinterest board. So, for instance, if guests are planning for a trip to Miami, they might save a bunch of Pins to their “Miami Vacation 2020” board.
This provides a unique opportunity for short-term rental operators. Because, if your Pin is saved to that board, you’ll be top-of-mind when they revisit their board and finalize their plans.
Pinterest Pins show up in Google’s search results, so you can not only rank in Pinterest but also on Google with the same piece of content. This increases your ability to get found on Google and other search engines.
Hosts typically see their Pins get picked up in popular search engines within a week or so.
When users save your Pins and “pin it” to their own boards, others can see that and find you through virtual word-of-mouth. People who follow these users or search for these boards will be able to find your Pin and listing.
In other words, the more people that pin your pictures, the more people that will likely visit your site.
While Pinterest is smaller than Facebook and Instagram, the users are more engaged and loyal. They actively use Pinterest to search for ideas and save them for later use.
That’s why it’s a lot easier to convert these users to guests. They’ll keep seeing you and what you have to offer (or recommend) whenever they view their saved Pins.
You can easily repurpose Pinterest content for other social media platforms. A single image created for Pinterest can be posted to Instagram and Facebook.
Pinterest also allows you to embed Pinterest boards to your website and share Pinterest boards to other social media sites.
When it comes to your Pinterest profile, there are several things you need to get right. You want a good description of your business, an appropriate username, and a link to your professional vacation rental website.
You can use the description to talk about your property.
Your account name should be congruent with your listing. So, if your property is called Jenna’s Luxury Beach Getaway, that should be your Pinterest username.
Before posting any content, you want to know who your ideal guests are.
Your marketing will differ based on who you’re targeting. Once you know exactly who you want staying in your property, you can feature photos and activities that appeal to them.
After all, you’re not just in the hospitality business. You’re also in the memory-making business.
If you do a good job, these guests will be more vocal in recommending you to their like-minded friends.
Pinterest boards are essentially places to tell visuals-based stories. It’s a way to show people around topics like travel and food.
Each board will have a title, description, and link. You can tailor this as needed, but the link should always link back to your Airbnb hosting site. This is a great way to drive traffic to your listing. You should also geo-tag your boards, so people can find it when they search for location-specific queries.
A board about “Things to Do in [Your City]” can include pictures of restaurants, activities, and your listing.
One of your boards can even just be about your property. You can think of this as a visuals-based tour of your home.
Like on Instagram, hashtags are super important.
Hashtags help you to:
If you tell people to use a particular hashtag when sharing your Pins, you can better locate their posts across social media. This allows you to know what people are saying about you and your listing.
When creating Pins, you want to make sure you add your logo or a watermark to the photo.
Some watermark ideas include your website or social media handle. The goal of doing this is to ensure people can find you and your business no matter where and when they see the image.
Matt Malouf is a real estate entrepreneur and investor who specializes in short-term rentals. He owns properties throughout Central and South America and uses Pinterest to drive direct bookings.
Matt is also a member of our Airbnb Profit Club, a free community for professional Airbnb hosts to connect with each other.
In 2016, Airbnb unexpectedly shut down Matt’s listing. While he tried to figure out what he did wrong, this experience made him realize that he couldn’t base his business entirely off Airbnb’s platform.
He had to readjust and reevaluate what he wanted from his business. He spent the following years trying new marketing channels and figuring out the best way to continue his business without Airbnb.
He stumbled upon Pinterest and learned all he could about the platform. After a month or two of trial and error, he began seeing results. He had several guests find him through Pinterest and book directly with him.
Marketing on Pinterest is just one part of Matt’s overall strategy.
He sees Pinterest as a way to build trust with potential guests.
After all, guests tend to feel more comfortable booking directly with you once they know what you do and what you’re about.
Matt uses Pinterest to build local relationships. He interviews local business owners and takes photos of their businesses to include in his Pinterest Pins.
If he’s creating a “Things to Do in [Your City]” Pin, this strategy gives him a list of authentic, local businesses. It also builds goodwill with these local business owners.
When creating these Pins and boards, Matt recommends adding alt text.
A common challenge with any platform is tracking attribution.
Where and when are people first hearing about you?
To solve this, Matt has two recommended tactics:
Asking guests where they found his business when they book
Offering a small discount for users who find him on Pinterest
Without these strategies, he’d have almost no idea if Pinterest was working for him.
Despite losing Airbnb as a marketing channel, Matt has been able to maintain high occupancy rates year-round. Almost all of his bookings are direct bookings, so he doesn’t need to rely on OTAs.
One of his unique strategies involves partnering with local NGOs. He gives their volunteers the option to stay at his properties at an affordable cost.
The NGOs do all the marketing for volunteers, most often people who are looking to engage in voluntourism. Once they’ve agreed to volunteer, the NGOs offer Matt’s properties as one of several housing options.
In this case, his target guests are volunteers who don’t want to work for accommodation or can’t afford to stay in a hotel.
These people often want the live-like-a-local experience. These are often medium-term rentals, where he charges rent month-to-month.
Matt’s strategies depend on the location of his properties. In South America, he does both short and long-term rent. Because in some areas, it can take months for him to find a single, decent, rent-paying tenant.
Pinterest isn’t a difficult platform to use. It can be a little tedious, in that it takes time to get all the technicals down.
You have to upload, geo-tag, name, and describe your Pins and boards properly. This means making sure they’re SEO and keyword-optimized for discovery in other search engines.
For hosts who don’t mind the extra work, Pinterest can be a great addition to your vacation rental marketing toolkit.
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