Review of the second year of Tourism Marketing and Management studies

Continuous development of our tourism business studies

It is summer again and the second class of our Tourism Marketing and Management (TMM) Master’s Degree Programme is about to finish their first year studies. Second-year students have been working on their minor studies and master’s thesis, and some of them are now graduating. In this post we go through student feedback and look at where and how our programme can be improved and what we are doing great.

Nothing is perfect, so there is always room for development. We take developing the programme very seriously. One of our main tools is the annual feedback from our students. We did the same thing last year, and now it is time for the 2019 edition. We publish all the feedback our students gave us here, as we want to be as transparent as possible. We believe this will help us to improve the programme even more as the students starting in the next fall can make sure that the programme has developed as we are promising.

If we look at the numbers in the figures and table below, we can see that even though the numbers are quite good, there is still a lot to be developed. The averages are really similar to last year, which means that in that way our programme has not developed that much during the year (0=Not at all satisfied, 10=Extremely satisfied). Especially the grades of 6 lower the averages. This means that for some students our programme has failed (or that is how we perceive it). This is definitely something we need to improve in the future. One of the main reasons for this is a change in staff that happened last year, and it definitely affected our programme in many ways as the feedback table below shows.

Tourism studies satisfaction
Figure 1. TMM 2018-2019 student satisfaction scores.

Table 1. Satisfaction statistics

Descriptive Statistics
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
How likely would you recommend  TMM studies to other students? 17 6,00 10,00 8,2353 1,03256
How satisfied are you with how much you have learned during your TMM studies? 17 6,00 9,00 8,0000 ,86603
How satisfied are you with the teaching methods at  TMM programme? 17 6,00 10,00 8,0588 1,14404
How satisfied are you with your own skills and knowledge regarding working in tourism business? 17 6,00 9,00 7,8235 ,88284
Valid N (listwise) 17

On a side note, we had altogether 16 students, so someone has answered the feedback questionnaire twice. Because the questionnaire was completely anonymous, it is impossible to say which answer to delete. Our 16 students managed to do 1012 ECTS by the beginning of January 2019, with a mean of 63,25 ECTS credits. This is a really great result as we are aiming for 60 ECTS per student per year. All the students who put the effort into their studies from Autumn 2018 have done a great job so far.

Developing tourism business studies

All the student feedback is collected in table 2 below. Based on the feedback there are several things we will do to improve our programme next year:

Exams / assignments

The main idea in our programme is that the students need to have the knowledge and skills stated in our curriculum after each course. Assignments and exams are a way for us to measure if this is indeed the case and to what extent. The main measurement method in our courses is assignments. We do not have any traditional exams as we think that they encourage short time learning instead of learning things so that they are remembered also after the assignments. Many of our assignments are already practice-based and enable students to apply what they have learned into business practices. Definitely, one thing we are constantly developing is the collaboration with businesses, and this is hardly ever ready.

We will also pay more attention to what kind of assignments will be done in groups and what individually. This was not optimal this year, but it is a learning process. All our courses are every year different because the assignments we have done are often case-based.

We will also have to look into the number of group works we have. On the one hand, we are doing a lot of work in groups, and it seems to be a challenge. On the other hand, it is often the case in the modern world that experts need to work in multinational teams that hardly ever meet each other. Still, the work has to be completed in a satisfactory way. This working culture is also something we want to teach our students and even though it might be challenging, it is still something that has to happen.

Assignment instructions will be more detailed and the grading throughout the courses improved. This is important as one of our goals should be that the students know what they need to know and how to demonstrate their knowledge. The idea of having more difficult assignments with higher expected results compared to many assignments with lower expected results is a good one.

Flipped learning: materials and class meetings

We are still ourselves learning how to flip our courses properly. Especially what would be the most efficient thing to do for learning when we meet after having studied the course materials for the meeting. Still, a lot of learning happens during the meetings, but our goal in our flipped courses is to have enough material online for students to be able to learn everything even if they don’t make it to class meetings. The role of class meetings is often to focus on difficult issues, but the balance between online and contact content needs to be developed.

The course materials will be developed for next year to include more examples from other parts of Finland as well as globally.

Scheduling

Scheduling courses is also a challenge that we are constantly developing. We only learn it by testing different ways to schedule our courses and assignments and hopefully, the experience from this year will again make the scheduling a little better next year.

Orientation week

Our two-week orientation period is a great success for us, but still, something to be improved even further. We will be including more information about presentation skills for our introduction course. This is a topic we have so far overlooked, but an important one as our students will give a large number of presentations during our studies.

We will also be learning more about group works, how to work in groups both online and offline. This should help our students to better meet the required skills for our course assignments.

Academic writing course will now be provided for all our students.

Programme staff

Our programme exists to give our students the skills and knowledge they need to develop tourism business responsibly anywhere in the world. As people working in the programme change every now and then, it is a challenge for us to get the new members into the spirit and culture of the programme. It does not happen overnight but requires time. The feedback below helps us to pay attention to ourselves and how we can better receive feedback. Our students have the same goal as we do and only by working together it is possible to achieve our goals. However, we are a really small programme with limited resources, and the courses are still new. It is natural that we have challenges in the start, but every year should be better than the last one.

Skills and knowledge in our programme

We have only two years to teach our students everything about tourism marketing and management. It goes without saying that it is impossible, especially as half a year is focused on the master’s thesis and a half for minor studies. Basically, most skills and knowledge of our programme is taught during the first year of studies. It is a short time and we have to prioritise what we teach. We have made a conscious decision not to include for example that many practical marketing skills like how to do Google Ads marketing to elective courses and for the students to learn by themselves. We teach our students what is important and why these things are important, but it is not possible to make them, for example, digital marketing practitioners within our programme. We give them all the possibilities, skills and knowledge to become one if that is what they want, but going into details of marketing is impossible for us within the timeframe we have.

We have also made a decision not to have separate courses for wellbeing, nature or sustainable tourism. They are present in all our courses, and especially during the introductory weeks. All the courses have materials connected to these topics. What we can do however is to better emphasize those topics more strongly in our courses.

 

Table 2. What kind of actions would you suggest for our programme staff and university that would improve your scores?
Practical based assignments and few more exams may help to learn better
Flipped learning is nice idea but it should be controlled somehow that students really study before the lecture. However, it should be considered well how to do that (e.g not in a way it was in experience design course. Some kind of discussion among students in the class would be good.)  -It should be possible to distribute studying time more equally during the studying months, now it is very much loaded to certain months or even weeks  -Just a minor note, but I would have a discussion with all students about what kind of is a good presentation, I feel the level of presentations has been lower than in my previous studies  -Google digital garage should be compulsory  -I would pay more attention to individual tasks and have group works only for the tasks that require creativity and/or solving problems. Students teaching each others when doing a group work is an optimistic idea which come true only if you have a very very good group.  -In the beginning of the studies I would have a discussion with students about group works regarding the fact that if ~half of the class does not live in Joensuu and not participate to group meetings (not even through skype) and maybe not to the lectures, it is quite a big work amount for those who always attend to every group meeting in every course, and try to refer the lectures for those who were not there. I don’t say this has been a big problem, but something to think about just to make students think that for example the first group meeting is also working for it, even though nothing is written to any report – planning is often the most challenging part and would be nice to get everyone involved in it.  -Having examples from everywhere in Finland and all over the world, I think it does not require guest lectures everytime. Lecturers could just tell how are tourism things organized e.g. in Kalajoki or some city in New Zealand. This could be done maybe even as group work.  -It is confusing that there’s no consensus regarding citation to be used in assignments, why don’t we just use the one UEF recommends? Now everyone is using whatever they want and that’s a problem in group works as no one knows what to use, no one remember to discuss about it in the beginning of the group work and it doesn’t work that the “strongest” person just decide it or no one decide it.
There is some consistency missing from teaching; sometimes everything goes extremely smoothly and great, but it can then change suddenly, this was particularly an issue during the spring when it felt like for example the grading of assignments was not coherent and stable (getting way better grades than should have been given for example); it’s not very motivating when grading is not consistent. Assignment instructions were very confusing from time to time, which also resulted in missunderstandings when conducting assignments. It is natural that not all professors grade assignments in the same way, but I have never experienced such difficulties of knowing what am I expected for in assignments as I did during the spring, and I think I was not the only one who was from time to time unsatisfied with this.
Better instructions! They need to be clear so that students know what it is that they should do and what kind of assignment they should do. This was a problem during many courses and different lecturers. Raija has very detailed and clear instructions which could be used as a guideline when making instructions for other courses.  Staff giving lectures should be aware how the programme works and know the topics they teach well. They should also be open to constructive criticism. One staff member had problems with these things that really affected the satisfaction of many students.
Teaching could be done by using different ways, the real life examples and collaboration with companies is always good.
Courses included too much group works especially at that point when there were too many groups in different courses, it doesn’t reflect or help working in the “real world” and it only decreases the motivation when the energy is put to form the groups and schedule rather than focusing on the work itself. Not compulsory presence in the courses at this point of the studies is appreciated. Accounting courses are very useful and would have like to take more of those.
Less group work, clearer instructions for assignments, more classes in business and accounting etc=kauppiksen kursseja. Flipped learning did not work with us. I am still lacking concrete skills in online marketing, which is why I enrolled on the Google ads Project, but a long course during the summer is extremely difficult to fit in with work schedule.
Maybe include a course about wellness tourism or sustainable tourism. It is marketed as one of the core issues of this program but it is not really included as a separate course. Of course, it was a bit part of some assignments, but it should made a separate course as it is advertised as such an important part of the whole program on the web page. Then, also students should be encouraged to speak more english. It should be mandatory that applicants know how to write academic texts or it should be recommended to them to take suitable courses. focus on quality of assignments instead of quality, meaning better have a higher level and make them more difficult and expect more than just have a lot of stuff to do. Some instructions should be made more clear and the expectancy and grading varies too much. For some courses like Destination marketing it would be better to have the course over a shorter time period. Maybe split Practical Tourism research course in two separate courses. The communication is sometimes very confusing, it would be better to limit on one channel and just use email or Facebook and be consistent with it. Also, sometimes things were told too late.
More field work, collaboration with real businesses, work oppirtunities
Maybe some charting about accounting skills on the beginning. As there are much of group works, there should be more focus on how people are working in a group. As there is no “named” leaders in the groups, the communication in a group can be challenging. When someone tries to “take charge” and lead, he/she eventually can be in a situation where he/she is doing all the jobs, and every one else is just waiting for the job to be done. As in the “real life” teams normally have leaders, could this be applied also in the program? E.g. dividing groups in the way that e.g. two persons is in charge in every course. The shifts circulates, so that everyone knows that if they don’t play their role in supporting the leader and being a equal member of a team, it will eventually backfire when he is in charge. I don´t know if this is a solution, and did my writing made any sense – but anyway I feel that some improvements would be nice to this issue if the group works will play a major role in the future – as there students are from different kinds of backgrounds and working in different manners.
In my opinion the Introduction to Tourism -course should be compulsory for those who are not coming from tourism studies. It should also be in the beginning of studies. On the contrary, more business studies would be good for people coming for tourism studies.
I suggest more knowledge at international level than North-Karelia level. The program staff are really nice and support us a lot.
I would direct the entity of the Tourism Marketing and Management perhaps even more towards commercial or economic degree, since that was the main applying aspect for me personally. I am basing this on comparison to the University of Lapland´s social science degree, which is the (only) other (university) option for most Finnish restonomi-degree applicants.
I like the idea that no exams are included. It works and challenges the students in a way that mirrors the work life. Although, some of the group works could be changed into independet or pair works, since in some of the group works, it so happens that people just do their share and dont understand the main picture. This is also because the students choose to do so, so it is a multi-sided problem.

 

What we are doing great

We also asked our students what were the best things during the past 12 months (Table 3). These are really nice to read and shows that we are doing many things quite well. We are evidently doing a lot of practical things, many of our courses are inspiring, we have excellent staff and great guest lecturers. Our fields trips have been successful and there is a good team spirit among students.

Table 3. What were the best things in our programme during the past 12 months?
field visits, practicle based assignment and more importantly introduction to technology in tourism. The technnology part is very interting as it helps us to learn what is going on and what are the possiblities in the industry
Good atmosphere in the class.  Quality of teaching (especially at the beginning I felt many times I cannot write fast enough my notes as there were so much new knowledge and information for me, I really felt these are master level studies and that I am learning a lot.) Very interesting topics in courses! Easy communication with staff! Flexibility. I am satisfied I chose these studies!
I really like the staff of this programme, everyone is so encouraging! But I have to say there is also a downside there; sometimes the programme is too flexible for the students, which seems to create difficulties sometimes. I understand it is nice that we are able to adapt, but sometimes it goes too far I think.  I basically have enjoyed all the courses we have had, except that Experience Design was a big dissapointment to me. Then again, Profitable Tourism Businesses was one of the courses I was least excited for, but it turned out to be one of my favorite courses, even though many of the subjects that were taught there were already familiar to me. However, I am very bad in that particular subject, and this was the first time I actually enjoyed learning all those things.  Practical Tourism Research was one of the most hardest, but also most rewarding courses. It was a lot of work, and especially still in quantitative methods there is so much more to learn, but it was all worth it. During the autumn, I would say that Tourism Behavior was one of the most useful courses then, as it was more learning something new.  All in all, I have enjoyed my time in general in the programme, even if I have not been satisfied with everything. I think the encouraging attidute of the staff is one of the most unique and inspiring things. It’s still a new programme, and you’re finding your direction, but with little work this could turn out be something very unique. Great work!
-Guest lectures have been great! -Possibility to go to exchange -Grading through assignments not exams -A lot of group work and presentations to help with working life -Not having to do presentations alone -Staffs close relationship with students -Flexibility of staff
No exams, great trips to Ilomantsi and Sortavala, good project works, amazing team spirit.
Of course the people. Amazing how you have chosen so likeminded people. The extra courses such as ITB and Sortavala.
Real-life context and examples are practical, not having exams most of the courses and more focusing on some task done with a company instead is teaching more.
Our class! Flexible teachers. Study trips. Learning more than in UAS. Being able to write assignments about our own interests (e.g. the destinations of our choice).
I enjoyed the practical things, assignments and excursions such as the trip to Sortavala, the Tahko Ski lift Pitch or the marketing plans for real companies. The internationalization of tourism firms guest lecture was really cool and I had the feeling I learned a lot.
Sortavala course
Excursions. Overall the whole program was really nice, and the whole class has good spirit towards everything. Learned a lot new about marketing, doing a research and academic papers and from the whole tourism business, which completed in a good way my previous knowledge about things. I also think I did a lot of friendships which at least hopefully, will last a long time. Good work, and I can really recommend this program to everyone without hesitations!
Interesting courses, trips, friends
Practical course is really helpful because it helps us use our own knowledge on a real business and meet new people with different background to widen our network.
The preactical co-operation with real tourism businesses and the diversity of different courses, even though there were some overlappings.
The courses, I think the content has been relevant and clear. I feel that most of the objectives set, are being accomplished. Improvements should be made on the assignments concerning the experience design course. The group work made for Koli, was interesting for some groups, for others it was more like what we did at previous studies (studying the signages and information plates of the hotel)

 

Second-year student feedback

We also collected some feedback from our second-year students who are finishing their studies. Their main issues are connected to the master’s thesis process, which we are now also developing. The idea that also the second year studies should foster the great group spirit achieved during the first year is a good one for us to ponder about. Our first student just recently graduated and others will soon follow, but the master’s thesis does indeed take a lot of time. However, all the students have the possibility and supervision to graduate within the time frame and we do not want to have strict guidelines and rules for writing the thesis. It is also a self-management exercise and more relaxed time schedule increases the quality of the work.

What kind of actions would you suggest for our programme staff and university that would improve your scores? What were the best things in our programme during the past 12 months?
Possibility to study abroad
More concordant course workload. As a second year student, there was not so much connection with school this year but I am happy to see all the action and different kinds of field trips and various projects going on with the first year students. Every time I saw the teachers they were happy to discuss about how it’s going with us older ones 🙂 I almost wish I could do it all over again!
More practical courses, especially on management. Independent course on sustainable tourism and wellbeing tourism. Research based programme, the second year is basically just writing the master’s thesis. Master’s thesis course with supervision for the thesis. Other courses have been online studies, which is not motivating. Second year does not have mandatory courses, which makes the group spirit disappear.
Talking and planning about the thesis from the very start. The possibility to learn so many new things. I don’t know if I improved my professional profile so much (except almost having this education). What I mean is that I learned a lot about research articles, to write reports, to communicate better in English, to survive from all the deadlines etc. but I’m not sure if I can really say for some company that I know how to do marketing. How to utilize this knowledge in a working life?

 What happens next?

Huge thanks to all our students who voluntarily answered this feedback survey. Many of the issues have been brought up during the year in many conversations we have had, but now they are all documented. Our 2019 students start their studies in September and our more senior students keep graduating. The application period for our 2020 studies will start in November. 

Research: What Do Fishermen Value as a Tourist Experience?

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

A new Tourism Marketing and Management research suggests that fishing tourists’ lived experience is always built around the same core elements. The elements in the order of importance are the following: emotional value, social value, and epistemic value. This means that Finnish fishing tourists value such elements as nature, peace-and-silence (i.e. emotional value). Also, sharing the own fishing success, fishing know-how and growing the social esteem (i.e. social value) is important. As well as, new experiences and self-development (i.e. epistemic value).

Based on their seriousness towards fishing tourism, three groups are identified: Hobbyists, Active tourist anglers, and Occasional tourist anglers. Even though the relative importance of value components was the same in every seriousness group, more serious fishermen had higher values.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically this means that serious fishermen’s, (i.e. hobbyists) total experience (incl. fishing activity, travelling, accommodation, etc.) is more strongly built around the fishing activity. Thus, they are more likely focusing on self-development, learning of new skills, visiting new fishing spots, and actively sharing this knowledge with like-minded people. Whereas, the fishing activity itself does not seem to have the same meaning for less serious fishermen (i.e. active tourist anglers and occasional tourist anglers).

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Six different types of recreational fishermen

The research also identified six different types of recreational fishermen based on the benefits they seek.

Fishing tourists’ profiles

‘Service-oriented novelty seekers’ is the most potential group from the guide services perspective. That’s because their experience is often carried out by using a different kind of guide-services. Segment’s fishing tourist experience is built around networking, novelty, and development.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically, their fishing tourist experience is more likely a social event that takes place in a peaceful environment and focuses on networking with like-minded people. These fishing tourists are also willing to try new fishing spots, seek new experiences, and use professional fishing guide’s to develop their own fishing-related skills. Thus, it can be proposed that usage of different services enable them to realize their own dreams which would otherwise be difficult or even impossible to implement.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

How to use the results in tourism business development?

Company or organisation may only gain a competitive advantage with benefit segmentation if they understand the preferences of different market segments.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The segmentation results should be combined with other segmentation variables to generate even more accurate customer profiles. Hence, future development should more likely focus on the main characteristics of seriousness clusters, preferences of individual segments, and combine these together with the company/organization own special characteristics. The idea is that this kind of profile combines the company/organization service offering, main characteristics of different seriousness clusters as well as the preferences of fishing tourist segments. Practically, customer profiles should be something like “Service-minded novelty seeker who likes to fish monster pikes” or “Development-oriented salmon rower” or “Group-focused trout fisherman who focus on an ice fishing”.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

About the research

The research approach was quantitative, and the data was collected from the Finnish recreational fishermen by questionnaire. In total, 1 166 respondents participated in the survey. However, the results only focus on the respondents (937) who had participated in a fishing tourism trip.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The empirical study is based on two basic theories, namely serious leisure and consumption value. According to the theory of serious leisure, the fishing tourists have been categorized into three clusters, based on their level of seriousness in fishing. The components of experience value are based on the theory of consumption value, completed with togetherness value which was found in earlier hunting tourism research. In addition, these value dimensions are utilized as criteria for benefit segmentation, when searching for different fishing tourist segments. The data was analysed by using cluster analysis, principal component analysis, and comparative analysis methods.

More information

How to do video marketing in tourism businesses?

Did you know that most people prefer video over reading? Also, social media platforms have started to favour video content, making video marketing in tourism an important part of any modern marketing mix. Videos have been growing fast as popular media content, especially on social media. Videos have great traffic potential and convert customers if you do it right. You can increase your business’ visibility and get more customers with video marketing. 

If you think it is too hard to make videos, here are some suggestions: someone else could do it for you, or you could learn to do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be an expensive project, but high-quality videos can be more viable. It is a bit scary to step in front of the camera, but tourism is a human-to-human business and it is definitely worth it.

Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

When you are thinking about doing video marketing in tourism, consider at least the following aspects:

  1. Think a clear purpose for the video

The clearer the purpose is the clearer it is to make and watch. There can be many kinds of purposes like you can make the video to introduce your brand, tell your values and build the trust and awareness or you can do a video just for entertainment. Remember to take into consideration in which stage the reached customers would be: are they still looking for inspiration (pre-purchase stage) or are they already comparing and deciding which service they are willing to buy, for example.

  1. Do different types of videos

Try to do a different kind of videos for different purposes. You could make a virtual tour and take the viewers with you, for example in your facilities or activities. When you give a glance to your customers beforehand, they can be convinced of your services and want to experience it by themselves. Videos increase trust as they convey a lot of information.

  1. Publish it in the right place and at the right time

Publish the video on the platforms and channels where your customers are. YouTube and Facebook at least are the most common video platforms right now. Also, think about the timing. Publish the video when there are most of the people online to gain the best results. And not just any people, but your target audience.

  1. Make it useful for all

You could make a video where you answer the frequently asked questions (FAQ) or educate your future customers by making a behave in your destination or how-to check-in on the self-service desk or how to paddle safely on stand up paddle (SUP) board.

  1. Don’t be boring

Try new things like 360 °, virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) videos, use drones or other technology. And more importantly, make your viewers laugh or at least to smile. Everyone needs a little fun to their days.

  1. Use influencers

Especially if you are not familiar with the technology, you can ask a videoblogger, for example, to introduce your business in an interesting way. Choose the influencer that has the audience who could also be interested in your business. Good influencer may have a great power to increase your markets. Same with other networks!

  1. Create and tell stories

Stories always work for people. Make a story that people can identify with, the video that makes the viewer emotional or inspired. Answer to your customers needs and desires and make the video attractive and your services irresistible, so your viewers would think “I must go there, and I must experience that!”. But still, be real, you have to meet their expectations. It is easy to talk about facts, but tourists make choices based on their feelings.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What else? See good examples below:

Vinkare is Finnish video blogger and influencer with almost 150 000 subscribers on YouTube. He always uses the newest technology and can do nice tricks with it. This is a useful and fun marketing video of Sastamala city.

For foreign readers, here is another example. This is inspirational video content in the first place. It introduces national parks in the USA.

The last video is a good example where the tourism business answers the customers’ questions, wonders and gives tips for families in Disney Park.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you got some ideas for your own content marketing and video marketing in tourism.

Tourism Marketing and Management to start studying extraterrestrial tourists

Today is an excellent day to launch our new mission: we will focus now on how to make our world more hospitable for extraterrestrial tourists. There have been concrete sightings of UFOs for decades, clearly suggesting that we are constantly being visited by extraterrestrial aliens.

In 2017 we at Tourism Marketing and Management programme started educating postgraduate students at University of Eastern Finland with the mission of making tourism better. However, as a result of recent strategy meetings, we have identified an even more prominent research stream.

Research on extraterrestrial tourists

When we started looking into the topic it came as a bit of a surprise to us how little academic research could be found even remotely connected to intergalactic tourism. Sure, there are already academics studying space tourism, but this research is mostly focused on humans as tourists, like almost all other tourism topics before it. Based on the number of sightings Earth must be a popular tourist destination for aliens, but the academic literature on the topic is almost non-existent. This is what we now aim to change.

UFOs
Extraterrestrial tourists arriving

Various new research topics

There are several different topics that our research group and our students will start examining. First of all, we are interested in their travel motivations: why do the aliens undertake such long interstellar voyages to visit Earth? We are also interested in what makes them choose Earth among all the planets in the universe? What makes Earth so special? Understanding these topics helps us to better design our destination to meet traveller needs. Even though finding respondents for our survey might prove challenging we are close to signing a memorandum of understanding with NASA and hopefully will be able to interview our guests at Area 51. A new form of collaboration is needed to cater for the needs of these customers, as well as to rethink the traditional definitions of tourist destinations.

We will also study the sustainability of interstellar tourism by calculating the dark matter emissions of travelling to Earth from many of our major source markets. A global study will be conducted to calculate the economic impacts of extraterrestrial visits as well as what kind of effect the alien tourism has on our culture. The results should provide us with important knowledge to guide our marketing decisions to a more sustainable direction.

The search continues, now for tourism research purposes.

Unique postgraduate programme

This novel research stream will differentiate our programme and take it to the next level. This is evident with the success of our latest recruitment process. Professor April S.F. Ools (Ph.D.) will start developing cross-cultural marketing and management at our programme. We will be the only academic postgraduate programme to really see the big, intergalactic picture of tourism.

Understanding this seldom studied tourist group will contribute to our understanding of the world and offer novel insights into tourism as a research topic as well as an industry. The students graduating from our programme will be innovative out-of-box thinkers with unique intercultural communication capabilities and understanding.

 

 

 

Content marketing and how to harness it for your business

Content marketing is a necessity in today’s digital marketing field. It is also an effective tool, especially for small entrepreneurs, to reach new customers, build trust and increase site traffic. The key to success is planning content marketing that can answer three questions:

  • What are your customers’ need and desires?
  • Can you provide your customers with something value?
  • Can you keep them wanting more?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building your own strategy:

Who are your customers?

The customer is the key factor in raising profitability. As a result, it should be considered as the centre of all activities and decisions of your company. When creating content, segmenting your customers is the first step as it helps to identify your target customers, understand their behaviors, habits, and preferences. Consequently, it provides useful information to create interesting and engaging contents and to refine your marketing approach.

Tips to find out the searching trends of customers after segmenting your customers:

  • Use analytics features on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics) to get an overview picture of customer behavior within the online environment.
  • Connect face to face to get some truly unique insights from customers.

Which content marketing formats have the most impact on your customers?

Choosing popular content formats is the second step to connect with customers. Online content format is not just text. It can be under different forms: images, videos, infographics, e-books, case studies, webinars, press releases, competitions, quiz, reviews or case studies… The format of the content should be compatible with the main goals of the content, which are to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. For instance, if the purpose of the content is entertaining, the suitable formats could be quizzes or contests while if educating is your purpose, e-books, instructions will be the reasonable selection. Picking the proper content format helps the potential customers engage, share, learn, become loyal customers or even entice new customers.

How to write an attractive content for online customers?

Reading habit is different between online and offline content. The style, length or structure of the content in different channels has an enormous impact on attracting customers. For instance, reading a long article in a newspaper is much more breathable and enjoyable than in online format.

Tips to achieve successful content writing:

  • Stay inspire. Pick some engaging topics. You can refer to your competitors or using tools to query the keyword list as this way is good for creating content based on the demand of customers.
  • Start with a direct topic or opening sentence to entice customers’ attraction and satisfy what they are looking for.
  • Write the content under the customer’s position and focus on content purposes. Avoid adding too much sales messages in the content.
  • Be consistent in your writing style to make customers immediately link to your brand, to build a relationship with your customers and to differentiate from your competitors.

How to promote your content online?

Spending time to promote your content online is as important as to create content because it helps to reach a larger audience.

Before creating a content promotion plan, choosing suitable channels to manage is important. There are three types of channels which should be considering: Owned, Earned and Paid channels. Promoting content on owned channels such as websites, blogs or social media sites is a typical starting point as it is a flexible and low-cost option. Earned channels help boost the customer reach of content and also add credibility. Whereas paid channels allow you to target your goals to specific customers.

Once choosing which channels to promote your content, creating a content calendar is the next step. A content calendar will organize your content marketing activity and make your content process consistent and efficient.

Tips to reach the full potential of a content calendar:

  • Combine a variety of marketing channels to work together for marketing strategies.
  • Make the plan achievable by using realistic time frames or highlighting special days or holidays to offer seasonal content
  • Use online tools to save your time. It will help automate the content creation, distribute process and easy to keep track of the plan
  • Stick to customers at each stage of calendar

 

Overview of Quantitative Data Analysis Methods in SPSS

Analytical thinking in marketing is critical. If marketing is both art and science, the numbers play a big role in the science of marketing. In our Tourism Marketing and Management programme, we study analytical thinking in many courses. One of those is our Practical Tourism Research course. During the course, our students study big data, survey research, online data sets, experimental research and sensor technology as a source of quantitative data. Our main data analysis software is SPSS.

To help our students learn data analysis methods in SPSS, I have collected (From SPSS manual) functionalities and use examples for most common data analysis methods in SPSS. This provides a one-page overview of different data analysis methods and helps to find the correct one for different use cases. Hopefully, the reads of this blog will find this helpful!

SPSS Analyze path

Functionality

Example

Descriptive Statistics

Analyze -> Descriptive statistics -> Frequencies Provides statistics and graphical displays that are useful for describing many types of variables, how many of what are there in your data. The Frequencies procedure is a good place to start looking at your data. What is the distribution of a company’s customers by industry type? From the output, you might learn that 37.5% of your customers are in government agencies, 24.9% are in corporations, 28.1% are in academic institutions, and 9.4% are in the healthcare industry. For continuous, quantitative data, such as sales revenue, you might learn that the average product sale is $3,576, with a standard deviation of $1,078.
Analyze -> Descriptive statistics -> Descriptives Displays univariate summary statistics for several variables in a single table and calculates standardized values (z scores). Variables can be ordered by the size of their means (in ascending or descending order), alphabetically, or by the order in which you select the variables (the default). If each case in your data contains the daily sales totals for each member of the sales staff (for example, one entry for Bob, one entry for Kim, and one entry for Brian) collected each day for several months, the Descriptives procedure can compute the average daily sales for each staff member and can order the results from highest average sales to lowest average sales.
Analyze -> Descriptive statistics -> Explore The Explore procedure produces summary statistics and graphical displays, either for all of your cases or separately for groups of cases. There are many reasons for using the Explore procedure–data screening, outlier identification, description, assumption checking, and characterizing differences among subpopulations (groups of cases). The exploration may indicate that you need to transform the data if the technique requires a normal distribution. Or you may decide that you need nonparametric tests. Look at the distribution of maze-learning times for rats under four different reinforcement schedules. For each of the four groups, you can see if the distribution of times is approximately normal and whether the four variances are equal. You can also identify the cases with the five largest and five smallest times. The boxplots and stem-and-leaf plots graphically summarize the distribution of learning times for each of the groups.
Analyze -> Descriptive statistics -> Crosstabs The Crosstabs procedure forms two-way and multiway tables and provides a variety of tests and measures of association for two-way tables. The structure of the table and whether categories are ordered determine what test or measure to use. Are customers from small companies more likely to be profitable in sales of services (for example, training and consulting) than those from larger companies? From a crosstabulation, you might learn that the majority of small companies (fewer than 500 employees) yield high service profits, while the majority of large companies (more than 2,500 employees) yield low service profits.

Compare Means

Analyze- > Compare means -> Means The Means procedure calculates subgroup means and related univariate statistics for dependent variables within categories of one or more independent variables. Optionally, you can obtain a one-way analysis of variance, eta, and tests for linearity. Measure the average amount of fat absorbed by three different types of cooking oil, and perform a one-way analysis of variance to see whether the means differ.
Analyze- > Compare means -> One-Sample T Test The One-Sample T Test procedure tests whether the mean of a single variable differs from a specified constant. A researcher might want to test whether the average IQ score for a group of students differs from 100. Or a cereal manufacturer can take a sample of boxes from the production line and check whether the mean weight of the samples differs from 1.3 pounds at the 95% confidence level.
Analyze- > Compare means -> Independent Samples T Test The Independent-Samples T Test procedure compares means for two groups of cases. Ideally, for this test, the subjects should be randomly assigned to two groups, so that any difference in response is due to the treatment (or lack of treatment) and not to other factors. This is not the case if you compare average income for males and females. A person is not randomly assigned to be a male or female. In such situations, you should ensure that differences in other factors are not masking or enhancing a significant difference in means. Differences in average income may be influenced by factors such as education (and not by sex alone). Patients with high blood pressure are randomly assigned to a placebo group and a treatment group. The placebo subjects receive an inactive pill, and the treatment subjects receive a new drug that is expected to lower blood pressure. After the subjects are treated for two months, the two-sample t test is used to compare the average blood pressures for the placebo group and the treatment group. Each patient is measured once and belongs to one group.
Analyze- > Compare means -> Paired Samples T Test The Paired-Samples T Test procedure compares the means of two variables for a single group. The procedure computes the differences between values of the two variables for each case and tests whether the average differs from 0. In a study on high blood pressure, all patients are measured at the beginning of the study, given a treatment, and measured again. Thus, each subject has two measures, often called before and after measures. An alternative design for which this test is used is a matched-pairs or case-control study, in which each record in the data file contains the response for the patient and also for his or her matched control subject. In a blood pressure study, patients and controls might be matched by age (a 75-year-old patient with a 75-year-old control group member).
Analyze- > Compare means -> One-Way ANOVA The One-Way ANOVA procedure produces a one-way analysis of variance for a quantitative dependent variable by a single factor (independent) variable. Analysis of variance is used to test the hypothesis that several means are equal. This technique is an extension of the two-sample t test.

In addition to determining that differences exist among the means, you may want to know which means differ. There are two types of tests for comparing means: a priori contrasts and post hoc tests. Contrasts are tests set up before running the experiment, and post hoc tests are run after the experiment has been conducted. You can also test for trends across categories.

Doughnuts absorb fat in various amounts when they are cooked. An experiment is set up involving three types of fat: peanut oil, corn oil, and lard. Peanut oil and corn oil are unsaturated fats, and lard is a saturated fat. Along with determining whether the amount of fat absorbed depends on the type of fat used, you could set up an a priori contrast to determine whether the amount of fat absorption differs for saturated and unsaturated fats.

Compare Means

Analyze- > Compare Means-> Bivariate Correlations The Bivariate Correlations procedure computes Pearson’s correlation coefficient, Spearman’s rho, and Kendall’s tau-b with their significance levels. Correlations measure how variables or rank orders are related. Before calculating a correlation coefficient, screen your data for outliers (which can cause misleading results) and evidence of a linear relationship. Pearson’s correlation coefficient is a measure of linear association. Two variables can be perfectly related, but if the relationship is not linear, Pearson’s correlation coefficient is not an appropriate statistic for measuring their association. Is the number of games won by a basketball team correlated with the average number of points scored per game? A scatterplot indicates that there is a linear relationship. Analyzing data from the 1994–1995 NBA season yields that Pearson’s correlation coefficient (0.581) is significant at the 0.01 level. You might suspect that the more games won per season, the fewer points the opponents scored. These variables are negatively correlated (–0.401), and the correlation is significant at the 0.05 level.
Analyze- > Compare Means -> Partial The Partial Correlations procedure computes partial correlation coefficients that describe the linear relationship between two variables while controlling for the effects of one or more additional variables. Correlations are measures of linear association. Two variables can be perfectly related, but if the relationship is not linear, a correlation coefficient is not an appropriate statistic for measuring their association. Is there a relationship between healthcare funding and disease rates? Although you might expect any such relationship to be a negative one, a study reports a significant positive correlation: as healthcare funding increases, disease rates appear to increase. Controlling for the rate of visits to healthcare providers, however, virtually eliminates the observed positive correlation. Healthcare funding and disease rates only appear to be positively related because more people have access to healthcare when funding increases, which leads to more reported diseases by doctors and hospitals.
Analyze- > Compare Means -> Distances This procedure calculates any of a wide variety of statistics measuring either similarities or dissimilarities (distances), either between pairs of variables or between pairs of cases. These similarity or distance measures can then be used with other procedures, such as factor analysis, cluster analysis, or multidimensional scaling, to help analyze complex datasets. Is it possible to measure similarities between pairs of automobiles based on certain characteristics, such as engine size, MPG, and horsepower? By computing similarities between autos, you can gain a sense of which autos are similar to each other and which are different from each other. For a more formal analysis, you might consider applying a hierarchical cluster analysis or multidimensional scaling to the similarities to explore the underlying structure.

Generalized Linear Models

Analyze- > Generalized Linear Models -> Generalized Linear Models The generalized linear model expands the general linear model so that the dependent variable is linearly related to the factors and covariates via a specified link function. Moreover, the model allows for the dependent variable to have a non-normal distribution. It covers widely used statistical models, such as linear regression for normally distributed responses, logistic models for binary data, loglinear models for count data, complementary log-log models for interval-censored survival data, plus many other statistical models through its very general model formulation. A shipping company can use generalized linear models to fit a Poisson regression to damage counts for several types of ships constructed in different time periods, and the resulting model can help determine which ship types are most prone to damage.

 

A car insurance company can use generalized linear models to fit a gamma regression to damage claims for cars, and the resulting model can help determine the factors that contribute the most to claim size.

 

Medical researchers can use generalized linear models to fit a complementary log-log regression to interval-censored survival data to predict the time to recurrence for a medical condition.

 

Regression

Analyze -> Regression -> Linear Linear Regression estimates the coefficients of the linear equation, involving one or more independent variables, that best predict the value of the dependent variable. For example, you can try to predict a salesperson’s total yearly sales (the dependent variable) from independent variables such as age, education, and years of experience. Is the number of games won by a basketball team in a season related to the average number of points the team scores per game? A scatterplot indicates that these variables are linearly related. The number of games won and the average number of points scored by the opponent are also linearly related. These variables have a negative relationship. As the number of games won increases, the average number of points scored by the opponent decreases. With linear regression, you can model the relationship of these variables. A good model can be used to predict how many games teams will win.
Analyze -> Regression -> Binary Logistics Logistic regression is useful for situations in which you want to be able to predict the presence or absence of a characteristic or outcome based on values of a set of predictor variables. It is similar to a linear regression model but is suited to models where the dependent variable is dichotomous. Logistic regression coefficients can be used to estimate odds ratios for each of the independent variables in the model. Logistic regression is applicable to a broader range of research situations than discriminant analysis. What lifestyle characteristics are risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD)? Given a sample of patients measured on smoking status, diet, exercise, alcohol use, and CHD status, you could build a model using the four lifestyle variables to predict the presence or absence of CHD in a sample of patients. The model can then be used to derive estimates of the odds ratios for each factor to tell you, for example, how much more likely smokers are to develop CHD than nonsmokers.
Analyze -> Regression -> Multinomial Logistic Regression Multinomial Logistic Regression is useful for situations in which you want to be able to classify subjects based on values of a set of predictor variables. This type of regression is similar to logistic regression, but it is more general because the dependent variable is not restricted to two categories. In order to market films more effectively, movie studios want to predict what type of film a moviegoer is likely to see. By performing a Multinomial Logistic Regression, the studio can determine the strength of influence a person’s age, gender, and dating status has upon the type of film they prefer. The studio can then slant the advertising campaign of a particular movie toward a group of people likely to go see it.
Analyze -> Regression -> Ordinal Regression Ordinal Regression allows you to model the dependence of a polytomous ordinal response on a set of predictors, which can be factors or covariates. The design of Ordinal Regression is based on the methodology of McCullagh (1980, 1998), and the procedure is referred to as PLUM in the syntax. Ordinal Regression could be used to study patient reaction to drug dosage. The possible reactions may be classified as none, mild, moderate, or severe. The difference between a mild and moderate reaction is difficult or impossible to quantify and is based on perception. Moreover, the difference between a mild and moderate response may be greater or less than the difference between a moderate and severe response.
Analyze -> Regression -> Probit This procedure measures the relationship between the strength of a stimulus and the proportion of cases exhibiting a certain response to the stimulus. It is useful for situations where you have a dichotomous output that is thought to be influenced or caused by levels of some independent variable(s) and is particularly well suited to experimental data. This procedure will allow you to estimate the strength of a stimulus required to induce a certain proportion of responses, such as the median effective dose. How effective is a new pesticide at killing ants, and what is an appropriate concentration to use? You might perform an experiment in which you expose samples of ants to different concentrations of the pesticide and then record the number of ants killed and the number of ants exposed. Applying probit analysis to these data, you can determine the strength of the relationship between concentration and killing, and you can determine what the appropriate concentration of pesticide would be if you wanted to be sure to kill, say, 95% of exposed ants.

Classify

Analyze -> Classify -> K-Means Cluster Analysis This procedure attempts to identify relatively homogeneous groups of cases based on selected characteristics, using an algorithm that can handle large numbers of cases. However, the algorithm requires you to specify the number of clusters. You can specify initial cluster centers if you know this information. You can select one of two methods for classifying cases, either updating cluster centers iteratively or classifying only. You can save cluster membership, distance information, and final cluster centers. Optionally, you can specify a variable whose values are used to label casewise output. You can also request analysis of variance F statistics. While these statistics are opportunistic (the procedure tries to form groups that do differ), the relative size of the statistics provides information about each variable’s contribution to the separation of the groups. What are some identifiable groups of television shows that attract similar audiences within each group? With k-means cluster analysis, you could cluster television shows (cases) into k homogeneous groups based on viewer characteristics. This process can be used to identify segments for marketing. Or you can cluster cities (cases) into homogeneous groups so that comparable cities can be selected to test various marketing strategies.
Analyze -> Classify -> Hierarchical Cluster Analysis This procedure attempts to identify relatively homogeneous groups of cases (or variables) based on selected characteristics, using an algorithm that starts with each case (or variable) in a separate cluster and combines clusters until only one is left. You can analyze raw variables, or you can choose from a variety of standardizing transformations. Distance or similarity measures are generated by the Proximities procedure. Statistics are displayed at each stage to help you select the best solution. Are there identifiable groups of television shows that attract similar audiences within each group? With hierarchical cluster analysis, you could cluster television shows (cases) into homogeneous groups based on viewer characteristics. This can be used to identify segments for marketing. Or you can cluster cities (cases) into homogeneous groups so that comparable cities can be selected to test various marketing strategies.
Analyze -> Classify -> Discriminant Discriminant analysis builds a predictive model for group membership. The model is composed of a discriminant function (or, for more than two groups, a set of discriminant functions) based on linear combinations of the predictor variables that provide the best discrimination between the groups. The functions are generated from a sample of cases for which group membership is known; the functions can then be applied to new cases that have measurements for the predictor variables but have unknown group membership.

Note: The grouping variable can have more than two values. The codes for the grouping variable must be integers, however, and you need to specify their minimum and maximum values. Cases with values outside of these bounds are excluded from the analysis.

 

On average, people in temperate zone countries consume more calories per day than people in the tropics, and a greater proportion of the people in the temperate zones are city dwellers. A researcher wants to combine this information into a function to determine how well an individual can discriminate between the two groups of countries. The researcher thinks that population size and economic information may also be important. Discriminant analysis allows you to estimate coefficients of the linear discriminant function, which looks like the right side of a multiple linear regression equation. That is, using coefficients a, b, c, and d, the function is:

D = a * climate + b * urban + c * population + d * gross domestic product per capita

 

If these variables are useful for discriminating between the two climate zones, the values of D will differ for the temperate and tropic countries. If you use a stepwise variable selection method, you may find that you do not need to include all four variables in the function.

 

Dimension Reduction

Analyze -> Dimension Reduction -> Factor Analysis Factor analysis attempts to identify underlying variables, or factors, that explain the pattern of correlations within a set of observed variables. Factor analysis is often used in data reduction to identify a small number of factors that explain most of the variance that is observed in a much larger number of manifest variables. Factor analysis can also be used to generate hypotheses regarding causal mechanisms or to screen variables for subsequent analysis (for example, to identify collinearity prior to performing a linear regression analysis).

The factor analysis procedure offers a high degree of flexibility:

• Seven methods of factor extraction are available.

• Five methods of rotation are available, including direct oblimin and promax for nonorthogonal rotations.

• Three methods of computing factor scores are available, and scores can be saved as variables for further analysis.

 

What underlying attitudes lead people to respond to the questions on a political survey as they do? Examining the correlations among the survey items reveals that there is significant overlap among various subgroups of items–questions about taxes tend to correlate with each other, questions about military issues correlate with each other, and so on. With factor analysis, you can investigate the number of underlying factors and, in many cases, identify what the factors represent conceptually. Additionally, you can compute factor scores for each respondent, which can then be used in subsequent analyses. For example, you might build a logistic regression model to predict voting behavior based on factor scores.
Analyze -> Dimension Reduction -> Correspondence Analysis One of the goals of correspondence analysis is to describe the relationships between two nominal variables in a correspondence table in a low-dimensional space, while simultaneously describing the relationships between the categories for each variable. For each variable, the distances between category points in a plot reflect the relationships between the categories with similar categories plotted close to each other. Projecting points for one variable on the vector from the origin to a category point for the other variable describe the relationship between the variables.

An analysis of contingency tables often includes examining row and column profiles and testing for independence via the chi-square statistic. However, the number of profiles can be quite large, and the chi-square test does not reveal the dependence structure. The Crosstabs procedure offers several measures of association and tests of association but cannot graphically represent any relationships between the variables.

Factor analysis is a standard technique for describing relationships between variables in a low-dimensional space. However, factor analysis requires interval data, and the number of observations should be five times the number of variables. Correspondence analysis, on the other hand, assumes nominal variables and can describe the relationships between categories of each variable, as well as the relationship between the variables. In addition, correspondence analysis can be used to analyze any table of positive correspondence measures.

 

Correspondence analysis could be used to graphically display the relationship between staff category and smoking habits. You might find that with regard to smoking, junior managers differ from secretaries, but secretaries do not differ from senior managers. You might also find that heavy smoking is associated with junior managers, whereas light smoking is associated with secretaries.

Reliability Analysis

Analysis -> Scale -> Reliability Analysis Reliability analysis allows you to study the properties of measurement scales and the items that compose the scales. The Reliability Analysis procedure calculates a number of commonly used measures of scale reliability and also provides information about the relationships between individual items in the scale. Intraclass correlation coefficients can be used to compute inter-rater reliability estimates. Does my questionnaire measure customer satisfaction in a useful way? Using reliability analysis, you can determine the extent to which the items in your questionnaire are related to each other, you can get an overall index of the repeatability or internal consistency of the scale as a whole, and you can identify problem items that should be excluded from the scale.

 

Experiences and digitalization – where are we going?

It’s all about experiences these days, isn’t it? They are constantly discussed in the field of tourism, and with other industries as well, but do we actually know what it is about the idea of experience that in the end intrigues the customer enough to make a purchase decision?

No, we cannot know that. Why? Because experience is a subjective, individual and very unique concept. No one experiences a product or service the same as their peers. Someone might not even feel as though they have received any kind experience from a service or product which might have been completely transformational for someone else. So, how do we market experiences, if we cannot guarantee that there is even going to be an experience to have? Can we enhance the experiences with tools provided by digitalization?

We must know our customer segment and what they are searching in their travels in order to understand how they might see the meaning of experience. Finding the customers ready to receive those experiences and even pay for them is not probably going to be difficult as marketing online develops, and it gets easier to attract bigger masses or find the niche market inside those masses that want your products.

How will digitalization change experience design?

In the future, digitalization and online marketing will be the key element in marketing experiences. As the world of digitalization moves forward, we can expand our experiences and how we see them. It opens totally new doors for marketing; A customer puts a pair of VR glasses over their eyes. They jump through a series of videos; snow, reindeer petting, Santa Claus, northern lights. The pretty picture formats in their head. I have to see that for myself. The thought of perfect winter wonderland has been set in their mind. The spark is there. All you need is the product to sell.

Snow dusting, formation of experience
Will there be time when experiences, like the feeling of snow and seeing the northern lights, can be designed fully online? Photo: Pulkkinen 2015

The question then becomes; how much we can tease the potential customers? Where is that line of wanting the hands-on experience, instead of watching northern lights lying on your own bed with the VR glasses on, enjoying the comfort and safety of your own home? What added value does the customer get from coming to Finland and going to freeze in the middle of the lake to watch northern lights? And how we can keep that experience authentic to the customer?

It’s about evolving. Designing. You need to find the link between the need to evolve with digitalization and the benefit for your company. What can you do in order to enhance the hoped customer experience? It’s about designing, prototyping and trying. Co-creation, another big word. Co-creation will most likely get on a different level with digitalization in the future, as information sharing and possibilities to do online get wider and wider. We are in a state of constant development.

The question remains. Digitalization, opportunity or threat to experiences in the tourism field?

Maybe both? The key is to find what is the best possible practice for you.

3 easy ways to make online customer experience better in tourism

As technology develops it is necessary for tourism businesses as well as businesses, in general, to think about how they can improve online customer experience. There is a lot of talk about if technology will replace human interaction, but actually in business purposes technology can help make customers happier. Although we have to remember that to do so, it has to be done correctly and enhance the customer experience rather than make things more complicated.

Our class was brainstorming to find out how technology can delight customers in tourism businesses. We discovered a lot of different ways, but there were three that stood out the most for all of us: easily accessible information, photos & videos, and helpful marketing.

Easily accessible information

When planning a holiday or booking activities, one of the biggest things is that the information is comprehensive and easily found. Tourism companies should focus more on the content of their website as it is the main source of information for customers. This means that the navigation should be clear and there should be information available about everything the company is offering. Especially for tourism companies, online booking is one thing that will make customers happier as well as the possibility to give feedback online. Easier the information search process is the happier the customer gets.

Photos & videos

We all know the saying “a picture tells more than a hundred words”. This should be kept in mind when marketing your products or services. Photos and videos can increase the trust as well as the satisfaction of customers when they match with reality. As an example, if a hotel has a gym, but they have no pictures of it, the hotel might seem a bit shady for the customers. But then again, you should not use pictures or videos that are much better than the reality, as the reality will then disappoint the customers. It’s also good to remember that high-quality photos and videos are also quite nice to watch, and they easily caught the eye in social media.

Helpful marketing

No one likes when a business is by force trying to sell their products or services, at least not Finnish people. Tourism companies should use more helpful marketing, which means that you introduce the strengths and benefits of our products or services rather than use a phrase such as “buy now”. In helpful marketing, you create content that is helpful for customers and that creates value for your customers. In the end, it will also lead to better sales. Make the customer feel special and be interactive on social media channels.

Focus on online customer experience!

As said in the beginning, there can be multiple ways to make customers happier by utilizing technology. Get started with the three ways introduced here, but remember that you can always develop ways that suit your company and customers better. In the end it all comes down to understanding the online customer experience!

How to successfully master website design for your tourism business?

An effective website is important for your tourism business as it is one of the first touchpoints in online marketing. We developed a framework of the most important core factors in website design. Instead of digging deeper into each of them, we look at the whole picture.

Website Marketing_Different Devices

STRUCTURE AND DESIGN

First, let’s start with the basics. Design the website in an easy, clear and simple structure. Be visual! Hence, make customers remember your website. Furthermore, include a navigation panel. You want to make sure that your customers find exactly what they’re looking. And pay attention: less is sometimes more. An over-designed website is not only daunting for the visitor but also impacts the page speed. Trust me, the goal is to attract more customers, not to lose them.

ACCESSIBILITY

Ensure quick-loading pages by choosing the right technology, smaller compressed images and a simple website design. Pay attention to the general accessibility on different platforms, devices and browsers. Don’t despair! You can even make a test run and check the page speed on different devices before you publish it.

ENGAGING CONTENT

There is no need for an attractive and clear structured website if your visitors are getting bored to death. Hence, create engaging content by integrating your personal story and stating your missions, vision and goals clearly. Show your customers that you care and include their testimonials and reviews as well as your values by adding sustainability certificates or Corporate Social Responsibility awards.

Picture_Metaphor for Storytelling

STORYTELLING

Most importantly, think about your customers and their values and implement them in your story. Don’t forget to add a beginning and an end and build up excitement. Captivate the customers with a powerful message.

Include interactive elements like videos or photos of your products or links to your social media channels. Then, think a step further and use chatbots to guarantee a round-the-clock personal customer care. Furthermore, retarget customers with discounts or feedback sections.

All in all, the possibilities online are endless. Just remember: taking your customers’ needs and your own values into account is the goal to succeed in digital marketing. Use Website Analytics and Search Engine Optimisation and dedicate a website manager to ensure constant updates, trouble-shooting and optimisation.

Follow this framework and you’re all set to go! What are you waiting for?

Nostalgia in marketing – a great way to drown your business

It is pretty easy to say that marketing a business today is made pretty affordable and easy – if you are not stuck in the nostalgia in marketing and trust that a basic “block ad” on a magazine is an effective way on advertising.

Events are my cup of tea. As an event manager, you are DEPENDENT on that the products are visible on Google and social media channels. The homepage should be active with links to other pages for Google to find it interesting, Adwords should rise up your event every time you are searched and ads can be targeted to customers who have visited the site. With the basic effort, you can do all this by yourself and can gain a lot of new customers. Without these things, you are same as dead to your customers.

Why?

Most of the customers, who’s from you are interested (read: have money and interest towards your hip-product), especially in technology orientated country like Finland, use smartphones – or at least search your business via computer. So why bother on spending lots of money on ads on e.g. newspapers? To compare online marketing to classic marketing on print – here’s just a plain and simplified example:

Marketing on local newspaper:  One marketing ad on leading local newspaper (outside southern Fi) Size approx. a6 format. Shown during one specific day. Cost approx. 800 €

  • You’ll need  (or at least it is highly preferred) to buy visuals from a professional (60-70 e / h)
  • The ad is shown one time on today’s magazine with other ads on the third last page.
  • Circulation of the magazine approx. 100 000 people in one province with broad age cohort.
  • No reliable ways to measuring the effects of the ad.

Marketing on Facebook/IG: for the same money (900 €) possibilities:

  • Do ads by yourself (of course the expertise and counseling of a professional- like yours truly – is always recommended) 😉
  • Choose the most relevant target groups from e.g. Helsinki and your hometown with specified age cohort and interests to visit the homepage or buy the tickets straight away.
  • Set the ads to be visible e.g. for week or two.
  • See how many times your ad is clicked, measure and optimize the ad also afterwards.
  • Gain more followers to your site, where you can advertise the event more specifically and share the love with your likers.
  • Add FB Pixel and google tracking to your homepage andthe engage same people who may have visited your site but not yet bought the tickets by encouraging them to buy tickets afterwards via cookies set on their devices.
So. Which one would you choose as an advertiser?

Are printed ads about to die? No. There is a place for it as well. E.g. in the form of advertorials in the specific periodicals or example big posters are really good way of getting attention – they have more possibility to reach your target groups. Books are read still, and I for one will always prefer to read from the paper than from the tablet or such. But it is hard to see a long-headed future for classic “box-ads” in the newspaper or such as an efficient way of reaching your customers now or especially in the future. Do not let nostalgia in marketing make decisions for you!