Pinterest, the online pin-board, turned out to be one of the rising stars of the 2012 social media landscape and is, perhaps, proof that — very often — the simple ideas are the best.

We all have pin-boards in our offices and homes, which we’ll stick things on we’d like to remember or want to keep — Pinterest takes this concept online and lets you build ‘virtual’ pin-boards. The advantages are obvious: You’ll never run out of pins or pin-board space, and you can share your boards with friends.

In January 2012, Pinterest had 11.7 million users and became the fastest website in history to exceed the 10 million users mark. In August last year, Pinterest recorded just under 25 million monthly visitors and was said to refer more business to companies’ websites than Facebook or Twitter.

Initially, Pinterest only offered accounts for individuals, but a little while ago, they started offering business accounts and suddenly things got a lot more interesting for companies.

Hotels and restaurants should be particularly interested in getting to know Pinterest better, because some of the website’s most popular categories are closely related to our industries, such as food and drink, holidays, or travel.

So how do you get started on Pinterest? Begin by going to and setting up a new account or converting your existing account into a business account.

Make sure you’ll link your account to your hotel’s or restaurant’s Twitter account, so you can share your pins on this popular service, too. Once you are all set up and your Pinterest business profile is fully completed, you can create your first boards.

I usually start off with a board about a hotel’s rooms and suites or about its bars and restaurants. You can upload pictures directly to your Pinterest boards or you can enter the url of pictures you want to pin if they are already available online.

Pinterest allows you a generous 500 characters to describe each pin and you should make the most of this, because every time somebody shares your pin (“re-pinning”), the text you entered to describe the pin gets shared with it.

You can (and should!) include links in your descriptions, e.g. to your restaurant’s Facebook page or your hotel’s blog or website.

Popular pins

What else can you pin? The most popular pins tend to be of the “I wish I was here” or “I want to do that, too” variety, i.e. pins that evoke emotions and inspire other Pinterest users to share them on their pin-boards. Food photography makes great content for a Pinterest board, as do shots of your beach or local attractions.

You can also create a Pinterest board for your current special offers and promotions — it’s a neat way to keep it all in one place and users can follow your board and will get notified every time you upload a new pin.

Don’t forget that Pinterest is a social media site — in other words, be social. Businesses, too, can follow other Pinterest users or subscribe to pin-boards.

You could even allow your guests or visitors to pin pictures to a dedicated pin-board (provided you have their email address and they are Pinterest users) — an excellent source of user generated content.

Also, you cannot only pin to your own boards, but you can connect with other Pinterest users and may be allowed to post to their boards. There are a lot of collaborative travel and gourmet boards on Pinterest, where a variety of users showcase their best pins and which make great platforms to showcase your pins.

It is always a very good idea to connect with local pinners – just enter the name of your city or area into Pinterest’s search bar and find active local users to follow. You can, of course, also connect to journalists, travel bloggers, or other digital sparks you come across on your social journeys.

Whatever you do: Keep it social!

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Photo Credit: The Ace Hotel hosts an active Pinterest page that links to its blog and other social media accounts. Pinterest