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. 

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

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.

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

 

 

Self-employed Business Owner: Why Learning Basics of Digital Marketing Saves you Money while Growing your Business?                                                                                                 

Are you preparing cottage rooms for next guests? Driving dog sledge through low-lying arctic hills? Preparing dinner for a group of visitors? If you’d take less than 10 minutes of your time to read through this blog post, I can promise you’ll be even busier after few months’ time.

So, do you have time to talk about getting better return to your hard-earned money that you put to marketing? Especially if the marketing and digital marketing frustrates you at the moment. I know – I’ve been there. And now I’m writing this blog post to You.

Most of the small tourism companies do have web pages and they are in the Facebook, but it doesn’t automatically mean that your customers will find you. You can be like the wall paper that is in the store but cannot be found. Or even like a pretty nice looking wall paper put on display but still don’t get customers’ attention. In order to break through from “the lost wall paper corner of internet” and get the awareness you deserve from potential customers, I recommend to consider the following three things:

  • What are the key words that your webpage is optimised for?

    Key words are crucial “tags” to help search engines like Google to find your web page when your potential customers are searching for services that also your company offers. Key words help your web page appear in the first page of Google search results. Also having links to other relevant web pages serve the same purpose.

  • Content is the King! 

    …in all channels. I understand that you don’t have time to be in Facebook or in other channels every day and figure out what you should post or write. You have real customers to serve. To make this easier to yourself make a list or even a calendar. Just listing what you’ll update and when keeping it simple and realistic. You don’t have to go from no activity to ten activities during a week at once. Good content frequently is ok. The content can be e.g. photos, happy customers (with their permission), positive customer feedbacks (testimonials) or even something cleaver about the weather. And of course, customers want to get to know you. Tell your story – in the extent that you feel comfortable with.

    While you are posting photos in Facebook you can do that as well in Instagram. You can open an Instagram page for your business here: https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/. In Instagram use those hashtags (#) with the words you want your business to be connected with.

By to way, all those likes, shares and comments in your social media pages are worth money. This is not online marketing basics anymore, but if you are interested in deepen your knowledge you can listen more about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im26jZT-eQw. I promise, this is useful.

  • Get to know the magical place of Google Analytics

Measuring outcomes of our actions is as relevant in digital marketing as it is in other areas of the business. Addition to the fact that it shows you how well did you succeed, that you don’t end up buying possibly too expensive marketing actions which don’t deliver what you hoped them to. Useful tool to follow up your online marketing actions is Google Analytics. See easy first steps to take to get started here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZf3YYkIg8w.

Optimising your web page so that customers find it is the first step. But as a second step you can make advertisements online to boost your visibility. Just remember to have proper web page before you advertise it: updated, relevant information to customers and possibility to buy your services, if the online selling is relevant for your business model. There are free tools to test the quality of your web page like this one: https://www.seoptimer.com/. They also give recommendations to improve your site.

 

If you got at least a little bit interested in, please Google your business – not with the name of the business, but with some other words that you’d use as a customer looking for the kind of services your business offers. If you find your business web page from the first page and your competitors are below you in Google search results, you have done something right. Congratulations! If you, on the other hand, find yourself from the second or the third page in Google search results, you’ve been able to hide your business to the place where no one looks – to the lost wall paper corner of internet. But don’t worry, you can break out from there by getting started with the steps described in this article. If you find this difficult or you just don’t have time for it, you can buy this as a service. And now you have better understanding what you are paying for.

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

How information technology can help in customer relationship

The customer comes first.  Classy saying, right? Surely that guideline, or perhaps a cliché, creates some kind of thoughts in your head. Do you consider it important?

Customer relationship is also such a classic term in the business world. Well, that for sure is essential! However, which elements in customer relationship matter the most for DMO’s and tourism businesses, and how could information technology could help?

Master level business students in Information Technology in Tourism -course figured it out, via rather a successful brainstorming. Firstly, all the possible elements that belong to customer relationship were considered. Secondly, the most important ones of them were marked. So, let’s start digging deeper into the world of the customer relationship, and how to combine it with information technology.

Five key groups were created out of all: interaction, customer engagement, networks, feedback, and personality. Each of these included numerous of subgroups. There is reallyy no point introducing all the subjects that came across. Instead, let’s have a closer look to the top 5 topics that were marked the most important of all and consider how information technology could help in tourism business generally.

Trust

Simply put: manage your customers’ expectations and do what you promise. Take care of your customers, for example by protecting their data. Show your reviews and customer testimonials, be open and transparent.

Co-creation

Listen to your customers, and also ask them. After doing by their suggestions, measure how you’ve been doing things to basically see if you’ve got it right. There are numerous ways to measure your online success, make sure you use at least one of them.

Customer Relationship Management

Naturally, managing your customer relationships generally is important. Your ideal CRM should form in simplicity, price, and relevance best suitable for your business. There are many software and electronic systems to help you with that. Why not give them a try?

Personality

In every step of your customer relationship, make sure that the customers recognize it’s you they are working with. If you have a personal style to do things, keep it and embrace it! That is easy to do in the digital world, just create a unique look to suit your company and publish similar looking style in each content.

24/7 availability

It might need resources to have 24/7 availability but do your best. Being a fast answerer creates trust. It also allows you to do co-creation with your customers. What comes around goes around. If a customer is so interested in what you are offering that they are contacting you, use this opportunity well!

Therefore, next time you are considering how well customer relationships are taken care of in your tourism business, think about the topics discussed and how well they are being managed. And trust it, you’ve got it.

 

 

Tourism studies at University of Eastern Finland: application criteria and scholarships in 2018

How to apply to tourism studies at the master’s degree programme in Tourism Marketing and Management? We have now published application criteria and process for the 2019 intake!

Continue reading “Tourism studies at University of Eastern Finland: application criteria and scholarships in 2018”

What will our tourism business students know after finishing Master’s Degree in Tourism Marketing and Management?

The second year of Tourism Marketing and Management programme is about to start soon. We had a successful first year, but that does not mean that we can stand down and relax. Our goal is to continuously develop our programme. Based on our Business School AACSB Accreditation membership, experiences from the first year, input from our advisory board and other stakeholders as well as our perceptions of what will be required from the experts of tourism business in the future, we have developed a new curriculum for the years 2018-2021.

Continue reading “What will our tourism business students know after finishing Master’s Degree in Tourism Marketing and Management?”

Review of the First Year of Tourism Marketing and Management Studies

It is summer and it means that the first year of our studies in our International Master’s Degree programme in Tourism Marketing and Management at the University of Eastern Finland is about to be finished. And what a year it has been! We have done and accomplished so much. Tourism Marketing and Management studies have proven to be innovative, useful and interesting, but there is still a lot to do to improve. Go on and read what is it like to study tourism business in our programme.

Tourism Marketing and Management studies can be a lot of fun!
TMM students and staff during the orientation week

Student feedback on Tourism Marketing and Management Studies

We collect continuous feedback from our students as well as stakeholders. We have an advisory board that consists of business representatives who ensure that our teaching corresponds to the needs of the industry. However, the most valuable feedback we get from our students. For the first year, we had a total of 20 students who are co-creating this learning experience with us. After each course, course-related feedback is collected. This feedback is used to develop individual courses. Once a year we also collect general feedback with a completely anonymous survey from our students. 14 students answered the survey and this is the feedback we got from 2017-2018 studies:

Tourism Studies Satisfaction
TMM student satisfaction results 2017-2018

From these results, it is obvious that our students would be quite likely to recommend our programme to other students, but we can also see that there is a lot to improve. Especially teaching methods need to be improved, and it is our top priority coming to the second year of studies. For us, the results show that we are doing things overall quite well, but we still need to improve in many ways.

We also asked for written, open feedback, and this is the feedback we received. We have not censored or edited the feedback in any way, but have responded to it on the right side column.

Student feedback Staff response
Perhaps focusing in a few themes instead of trying to include everything in the studies. I have enjoyed the atmosphere though and hope the connection between students and teachers remain close. Indeed, our programme is quite ambitious, to say the least. Students need to work quite hard and learning goals have been set high. We definitely need to prioritize our learning goals better and have clearer focus on courses and the whole programme on what we want to achieve.
More info on flipped learning at the beginning, before using it as a teaching method. Emphasis on reserving time in calendar besides contact lectures, maybe have an assignment where that is practiced. Having all tasks and their due dates available at the beginning of the course, so that there are no surprises afterwards about extra tasks along the way. Our studies start now with 2 ECTS Introduction course that has enough time to discuss the teaching methods we use and how we are expecting the studies to be completed. During the first year we had to partially build the courses as we advanced, but for the second year, the situation should be better as a majority of the materials and assignments are now ready.
In some courses, whole course was based on group work. To me, better if half of the work is at least individual task. For group work, better if the teacher makes the group randomly, so there is opportunity to work with every classmates and learn from everyone. We do emphasize working as teams in our programme quite a lot. However, we understand that the grade should not be completely dependent on how other people work.

For the next year, we will always randomize the groups to make sure that our students get to know each other better and have different teamwork experiences.

I have done everything to my best ability. I notice in some courses I could have done a better job.  For the future, I suggest the programme staff to be more aware of what is going on with the students’ workload and not placing deadlines in the same times. Trying new teaching methods is good but make sure to also inform the students about all the changes. We have already planned the second year schedule so that assignment deadlines are visible for everyone and that there is not too much overlap between assignments and deadlines. We will also go through the timetable for the year during the Introduction course.
There’s nothing much to add for the topics we’ve already discussed during the year. Schedule should be planned better, instructions for assignments should be clearer right at the beginning, dead-lines should walk better hand-in-hand with other courses and flipped learning method needs to be open up for students beforehand. This feedback summarizes well earlier comments and these are definitely the issues that we have and will be paying more attention to.
Group work was not working very well (most of the times), it was more like split the task and everybody take care just their own part. Nearly every group somebody was complaining, lacking interest etc. Better to work with pairs or max 3 people in a group.   You can learn by yourself a lot but when students are not at the same level of previous knowledge or share the same interests, you need a teacher to tell the basics and give quidance in tasks.  There is a lot of material in Moodle, so I can continue learning by myself and I will. Flipped learning method was working well in Experience design course and you should use it in the future, too. Tourist behavior course content was excellent. Tasks in IT course were good and educational.  I was hoping to here more about the future of tourism industry from the business perspective. We should have our own course about the leadership in tourism firms, the other Uni courses do no help much. The other marketing and business courses in Uni are mostly online courses or not very interesting ones. Comparing the other courses in Uni our own were excellent, so keep up the good work! The goal of group work is to give our students a possibility to openly discuss topics and work genuinely together, increasing the skills and knowledge for everyone on the team. Doing group work by partitioning it for every student does not really advance this goal. In the work life however, it is common to do group work in a way that everyone does his or her part and then the combined work is reviewed together. Probably smaller groups would work better in any case and we will pay attention that a wide variety of different kinds of teams is used during various courses we have.

Leadership in tourism is something that we will supplement with additional courses. This year we had Dr. Teresa Aguiar Quintana from University of Las Palmas to teach the topic in a supplementary course and hope to continue this in the future.

This was a pilot year, so a bit more organized approach. Maybe to evaluate a bit more closely the starting level of students skills. But not to lower the expectation level of these studies rather expect some bridge studies if needed.  Positive: Diverse learning methods, flexibility, focus on learning (not executing the program), connecting academics to practical business reality, focus on current and future (not only old theories), all professors have a different style to teach which I found good. The starting level of our students vary quite a bit and it is a constant challenge for us. We will be thinking about the application criteria so that the students should be more similar with their starting level. A bachelor’s degree in business studies such as marketing or management should provide a solid background for our studies and knowledge about tourism business is definitely a great thing to have. However, it is also a fact that some students need to study more than some another because we aim that all the students graduating from our programme match our knowledge and skill goals.

The academic year 2017-2018 in numbers

How did the first year in Tourism Marketing and Management studies succeed in numbers? Altogether 20 students started their studies in the Autumn semester of 2017. We have one full-time staff and two working with the studies in part-time. Professor Jamie Murphy has been a great assistance to us and he spent the Autumn with us in Joensuu starting up the programme. We are also happy to welcome him in Autumn 2018! We also had three other international guest professors visiting us and giving our students courses on their own expert topics. Besides that, we had dozens of businesses, destination staff, and other guest lecturers providing insights on Tourism Marketing and Management to our students.

Our students managed to study 1175 ECTS credits with an average of 58,75 ECTS and median of 64. We clearly surpassed the goal of 55 ECTS per year on average, so well done to all our students!

For the 2018 studies, we had 119 applicants, a growth of nearly 100 percent from 2017. The programme is becoming quite popular! Our mission of making tourism better resonates all over the planet and we have had applications from all over the world. Our website www.uef.fi/tmm has visitors from more than 100 countries with at least a dozen visitors from 50 countries just during the past year.

During the past year, our blog www.tourismmarketingandmanagement.com has been visited 4582 times. The most popular student-written blog post was from Lari Turunen, who discussed the most common problem in destination marketing.

Our students have been updating our Instagram to show how it is like to study Tourism Marketing and Management in Joensuu, Finland. The new students will start to update the account this fall. Looking at the Instagram feed, the year has not been just about studying, but a lot of fun has been had. Our Facebook page has almost 2000 likes and it is by far the best way to keep up with what is happening with the programme.

What will be happening in academic year 2018-2019 in Tourism Marketing and Management?

Our second student group will be starting their studies in September 2018. We are working now to develop the courses for the next year to make the learning experience even better. We have great collaborations and guest lecturers planned and many fantastic cases to test our skills in the real world.

It will also be an exciting year as our first students start to graduate. Many of them are now writing their master’s thesis and we have extremely interesting studies coming up during the next academic year!

We will start looking for new students again sometime in November for studies starting in September 2019. If you want to be kept up to date with the application process, sign up for our newsletter.

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

The next big wave in tourism marketing

*This article is written by Tourism Marketing and Management students Jonna Kumpu and Tiina Kattilamäki

The second #IFITTtalk @Helsinki seminar on Digitalization in Tourism business was held at Hotel Arthur on Tuesday 15th of May. The seminar was opened by Kari Halonen from ToolBox Ltd, who was also the main organizer of the day. The opening speech was given by Juho Pesonen from the University of Eastern Finland, who has his thoughts on digitalization and customer experience. It is especially this focus on the customer experience that will be changing tourism marketing on a profound level in the future. Of course, the experience has always been important in tourism, but now with social media and the importance of earned media and technological development, customer experience will be the key to success in tourism. It was also the focus of this IFITTtalk seminar. 

Multisensory experience is the future of tourism marketing

During the day, we got to listen to several speakers and their thoughts and best practices concerning digitalization in the tourism field. One of the most interesting speeches was given by Pasi Tuominen from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He emphasized the multisensory approach to tourism services in which all senses are being utilized. For example, in the hotel room of the future customers are able to select in what kind of eenvironmentthey want to fall asleep by using an app on their mobile phone. In multisensory approach spaces, surfaces, smells, and voices are all being utilized. Essi Prykäri from Lahti University of Applied Sciences emphasized the importance and possibilities of 360° Virtual Reality videos, for example in marketing nature tourism. This has also been done for example by SaimaaLife in the Savonlinna region, which we got the pleasure to get to know earlier in the spring when she visited our programme.

Tourist experience captivating the audience

Jarno Malaprade from Tietotalo talked us through the evolution of mobile phones and reminded us of the fast development that has happened during the last few decades. Our phones have transformed from normal mobile phones to personal assistants, and the transformation continues. Jarno also introduced us more closely to beacons, which are Internet-of-Things devices that can be utilized easily in various ways in tourism businesses. The beacons can help businesses to for example guiding customers in certain areas such as theme parks, which tend to get busy at times. The beacons are aware of the presence of the user and can be used to collect all different sorts of data to help in experience design.

Heini Niklas-Salminen from TourGuideFox presented their company’s app, which offers digitally guided city tours. The company has started tours recently in Helsinki but is planning to expand in the future. Heini gave some insights for features of successful apps. It has to be easy to buy, modified to different target groups and that customer experiences are at the core of service. TourGuideFox aims to be more than just another city tour app; there is a possibility to build a whole ecosystem based on creating more value for tourists when they are on the trip.

 

The development of AI and robotization in tourism

The speeches were finalized by Iis Tussyadijah, the President of IFITT, who joined the seminar online. She emphasized the importance of AI and robotics, as services will be robotized in the future. According to her, this change will also greatly affect tourism business. It will bring both opportunities and challenges, and tourism industry should be ready to optimize the benefits and minimize the risks.

The afternoon continued with workshops on digitalization. Also, we got to familiarize ourselves with the exhibitors, who introduced their companies. The companies included were Tripsteri, Qvick, Koodiviidakko, HMMH Consulting, Wowanders, and Poutapilvi. Also, the company representatives had a chance to participate in workshops concerning digitalization held by Juho Pesonen.

The main notion of the day is that tourism businesses can profit greatly from digitalization. It will make the travelers’ lives easier, but also the travel experience certainly a lot more interesting. It became apparent during the day that many companies already use different kinds of applications in order to offer new services, but there is still a lot to be done. However, the question remains whether the virtual reality will never be able to replace real experiences. Does it even have to, or should it be more like an addition to the actual experiences that the traveler may face?

Participants were really enthusiastic about the day’s topic and were eager to share their knowledge and tell about their business ideas. Everyone certainly finished the day with inspiration and new ideas to be utilized in the future.  All in all, the day proved that there definitely is a place for a seminar like this also in the future. It is fantastic that IFITT is supporting events such as this and enables tourism industry to benefit from digitalization and share ideas and best practices.

 

#digitalization #technology #AI #tourism #IFITTtalk #IFITT #hotelarthur #tmm #helsinki #maketourismbetter

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

TMM developing tourism business at Etelä-Konnevesi region

Our International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management (TMM) has started a collaboration with municipalities of Konnevesi and Rautalampi and tourism stakeholders in the region. The concrete first step in this collaboration was a two-day workshop on developing nature tourism in the Etelä-Konnevesi region, organized in Konnevesi research station 14.-15.3.2018. Together with Anne Hyvärinen, project manager at a regional tourism development project, two days full of tourism business content were designed and tailored for the region.

Tourism insights and knowledge

The idea of the first day was to bring in all the actors to the same level when it comes to tourism marketing and management in a nature tourism destination. The day started with introductions and three short group work presentations by our students. As a preliminary assignment, our students had examined how the region is represented on the Internet from the perspective of potential tourists, both domestic and international. They also gave a quick overview of the recent development of the region in combination with development possibilities.

Making tourism better
Nature tourism workshop at Etelä-Konnevesi region

From the student presentations, it became obvious that the region has a vast tourism potential, but the problem is that very few know about this hidden gem. Most tourists that come to the region just visit the Southern-Konnevesi National Park, even though the region is full of interesting, high-quality and distinctive tourism businesses. Thus we were able to pinpoint the tourism development problem to marketing and sales, as well as networking between the actors in the region.

Besides our students, there was a wide range of presentations from local entrepreneurs and tourism personnel, Jyväskylä UAS and Visit Jyväskylä, and Johku. The tourism in the region and development possibilities were discussed from many different viewpoints, providing a great overview of the topic.

Networking and collaboration

At the end of the first day, we had the chance to visit a local rural tourism business Suopirtti Highland and meet their “hairy cows” (ie. highland cattle). It was indeed an experience for all of us. Afterward, we had a chance to taste delicious locally produced dishes at restaurant Mierontie. The restaurant also had a unique, wooden interior design made by local Jukola Industries. At the end of the second day, we had the chance to visit the National Park and experience KalajaRetkeily hospitality from Markku Utriainen. These visits only reinforced our view that there are many great and original tourism products and services in the region, but very few have ever heard of them.

Tourism services at Etelä-Konnevesi
Local tourism services

Professor Raija Komppula emphasized at the workshop how important collaboration and networking are for tourism businesses. Not that much can be achieved by doing things alone. Tourists seldom choose a destination based on one tourism business. Tourists are looking for an amalgam of experience that they can enjoy during their trip and only by working together a region can provide tourists what they want.

Tourism business development

Our students are now working with individual tourism businesses as their second assignment. Each student was assigned with a tourism business with their own development possibilities. The businesses gave our students practice-oriented tasks connected to topics such as marketing mix development, service packaging, experience design, technology adoption and new-service development. Our students will provide each involved business a short report that guides the businesses to take the next steps.

Students in a nature trail
TMM students and staff at the Etelä-Konnevesi National Park

Collaboration with TMM

We have built our programme so that this kind of destination and business collaborations are possible. Our students performed really well during the workshop and have clearly learned a lot during this past year they have been studying with us. We will continue our collaboration with Etelä-Konnevesi region and are also open to new possibilities to make tourism better. If you are interested in collaboration, please contact me at juho.pesonen[at]uef.fi.

The Most Common Problem in Destination Marketing in the World

World’s Most Common Problem in Destination Marketing

What is the difference between successful and non-successful destinations from the destination marketing perspective? In this post, I want to understand the details behind successful destination marketing. What is the one key thing to gain competitive advantage in destination marketing?

When we start to think about the exact reasons for the success, I suppose that most of the people will answer that: “It is all about the strategy”, or “The budget walks hand-in-hand with the success”. Third largely heard opinion is: “There are right people behind it”.

These are all right answers while looking at them from the micro perspective. Anyway, by turning the whole point of view into a larger scale, we can find one rallying point for all of them. That is the collaboration. Collaboration ties all of them together and separates the destinations into a successful and non-successful.

d’Angella & Go (2007) and Fyall, Garrod & Wang (2012) have created an excellent researches about the connection between collaboration and marketing. Main results were that, in tourism destinations collectivism is needed for individual success. In such a win–win situation cooperation brings higher competitiveness for the actors involved. The collaboration allows destinations to expand their reach and tap into wider market opportunities. Collaboration is also natural response to the marketing and management challenges of destinations.

We can pointedly say that to succeed with marketing objectives, it is necessity to re-orientate with organisational level toward the achievement of ‘‘collaborative advantage’’ rather than ‘‘competitive advantage’’. The future norm for successful destination marketing and management will be more collaboration and less isolationism. Good example about the destination marketing with “collaborative advantage” is Iceland.

How DMO can strengthen up the level of collaboration?

There are usually many different aspects affecting for the willingness to do collaboration. In many cases, behind the non-collaborative destination you will find following similarities: trust, fear of change and preposterous expectations toward DMO. These all fits in under the following statement: lack of knowledge. There are tons of small micro companies (SME’s) in tourism industry, which does not have the knowledge about nowadays needs. Many of them do not even know the basics about the current issues in marketing scene.

We have almost reached the 2020’s and the marketing is focusing more and more on different digital channels. To be successful, one must be able to develop itself to answer for nowadays needs. Unfortunately, the fact is that SME’s knowledge toward digital marketing is still limited. These small entrepreneurs are still playing by the rules settled in the 90’s. Posters, brochures, newspapers and letters via postal mail. There are too many whose only digital channel is Facebook without any idea how to use it effectively.

To be successful in destination marketing your every component needs to be at a certain level. In situation where the SME’s do not even know how to be visible in online you don’t meet with this goal. As a DMO, encourage the entrepreneurs to improve their skills in digital marketing. That is the modernity, and it is the necessity. SME’s don’t need to be professionals but if they even know how to be visible in online, how to create content, how to use SEO and how to use social media effectively, you are already one step ahead.

How to learn digital marketing together as a destination?

Content creating is now easier than ever. You do not need to be an engineer to create content anymore. Everyone has a possibility for that in the internet. Social media (SM) and content management system’s (CMS) such as WordPress have unlimited options to share content effectively and more importantly, easily.

Educating people inside the destination is not even time-consuming process for DMO anymore. Most of the programs are available in digital format.  Even better, there are great variety of free courses where to participate in. Encourage the SME’s to attend for these free courses and learn how to use these different online tools. Check out these top free online courses to upgrade your destinations digital marketing skills in to next level:

1. Google Digital Garage: https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage/

One of the most versatile courses is offered by Google. These completely free online courses will guide the participator through everything from search engines, to social media and beyond. There is totally 26 different topics and 106 lessons. You will learn to use SEO, create content, to be visible in online, launch different kind of marketing campaigns and use analytic tools more effectively. This is probably the best place to start learning the basics of digital marketing and E-Business.

2. Alison Diploma in E-Business: https://alison.com/course/Diploma-in-E-Business

Alison is a massive online learning community of more than six million registered users. They offer both, free and paid courses. Now you can take the free digital marketing course, Diploma in E-Business. Taking part for the course you develop your skills in search optimization, Google Analytics and AdWords, campaign tracking and integration, revenue metrics analysis, digital measurement, and much more. Extremely useful and recommend course to upgrade your current knowledge.

3. HubSpot Academy: https://www.udemy.com/inbound-marketing-course/

HubSpot Academy offers an incredibly comprehensive digital marketing courses. They are also offering free and paid courses. Recommend free course is: Inbound Marketing Course. This course has currently more than 35K participators. This inbound marketing course offers over 4.5 hours of instruction with totally 38 lectures, and all of them are completely free. You will learn how SEO, blogging, landing pages, lead nurturing, conversion analysis and reporting come together to form a modern inbound marketing strategy.

Benefits of collaboration

At the beginning, it is enough if you can encourage even couple of companies to take a part for these courses. As a DMO, think about the benefits of educating the people inside your destination.

1. You will get available working hours and other resources for your destination marketing. That does not involve even money transfers. The more people we have creating content about the destination, the easier all of this provides advantage through synergy. Little by little the visibility and awareness of whole destination will start to increase.

2. Togetherness creates strength. It is always better to have more people doing right things at the same time. Professionals are important, but one or two gurus cannot do everything by themselves.

3. You can start to build a common marketing strategy in more detailed level. Exploit the different digital channels as together and create a controlled content network between the individuals inside the destinations.

Once you have reached that, you are ready to take a step for the next level: collaboration between destinations and organisations.

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.