Earlier this morning Pinterest announced “Place Pins.” This adds a map and geo-location to Pin Boards and makes it possible to build new types of “Place Boards,” which include local things to do, sites to visit and so on. Business listings in the US come from Foursquare’s API.
The company said that Place Pins and Place Boards came organically out of user behavior on the site:
About a year ago, we noticed Pinners creating more and more boards around the vacations they’re planning, special places near where they live and sites they want to see someday…Place Pins were designed to combine the beautiful imagery of a travel magazine with the utility of a map online so you can share it with friends. You can access them from anywhere on your smartphone, too, which means you can find new places on the go and even get directions…
Place Pins are our first effort to make Pinterest more useful for travel. It follows other ways we’re making your Pins more actionable in real life . . .
Pinterest isn’t going to take the place of Yelp, Foursquare, Google Maps or TripAdvisor anytime soon. However Place Pins is a very interesting move by the company, consistent with its broader efforts to connect the online and offline worlds (“making your pins more actionable in real life . . .”).
The way Pinterest is structured and formatted is great for browsing but not as good for specific search behavior (“best sushi NYC“). However if more cityguide-style Place Boards start appearing then users could factor in Pinterest as one of their sources for things to do and places to stay or eat.
There is a great deal of potential to create interesting, helpful or colorful and offbeat lists around places.
Certainly Place Pins will be a boon for travel planning. And Place Boards can be created collaboratively.
The entire travel segment does well with search and very specific types of lookups or queries (“Hotels New York”). Accordingly it does a good job serving the needs of people who already know where they want to go. Online travel sites are not as good in helping people at earlier stages of the leisure-travel planning process: “where should we go this summer on vacation?”
Pinterest could fill that gap and then create an interesting model around “sponsored boards.” Countries, cities, hotels, publishers and others might create sponsored Place Boards that could in turn lead directly to bookings and other revenue events (e.g., restaurant reservations — a partnership with OpenTable is obvious).
Regardless, there are lots of intriguing possibilities — not just for “travel” but for local discovery in one’s own area.