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!

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 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?

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.

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!

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.

Do Not Read This!

Content Marketing?

Yep, I thought you wouldn’t listen. Luckily there is no harm in reading this, quite the opposite. I just wanted to prove a point: In content marketing, you are competing of customers enjoying an overflow of information and suffering lack of time. Therefore, your content marketing needs to be intriguing and catch the attention. Like hopefully this headline did. So, in case you are interested in content marketing, you should stick around and read rest of the post!

Let’s start with discussing the term. It can be mixed up with social media marketing. Creating an ad in Facebook is still not content marketing, just marketing happening in social media. The idea of content marketing is to create different types of content, like blogs, video material and online discussion with customers. The content is shareable and creates interest towards your business, increases your appearance in search engine results and should affect your sales.

How to start

So, let us say that you just established a hotel in Lapland. Should you now open accounts to every other social media outlet and fill them with room pictures and other posts? No, first comes the content marketing plan. For that you need to know your potential customers and their preferences. With bench-marking rival companies, you can learn what content they share and what social medias they use. Referencing the competition is a good start, but also personal goals need to be established. What does your company achieve with all the content you share? Who sees it and what do they do with it? When you can answer these questions, you can proceed with the plan.

Some No No’s

Next, lets dodge some common landmines of content marketing. First, the content can’t be all about the company. Do not always sell something, the customers are not always buying something. The key idea is to be on mind of the customers and when they want to make a purchase that you can provide, they will remember you.

Television was a one-way media, but social media is not. By forgetting this, you miss out on the potential of content marketing and might even do damage. Be attentive to the customers, answer the complaints and discuss the questions.

Do not do too much. If your customers discuss your services in Facebook and like your pictures in Instagram, but Twitter is not working, concentrate on the former. That way your company can be consistent and reliable online, which creates trust also in general.

Do not forget to track the impact of your content marketing: It is essential for you to know how it works and what should be developed or altered.

Entertain, Inspire, Educate and Convince

Content should be useful to both existing and potential customers. In general, you should follow these four guidelines:

  1. Entertain the customer with top quality content to spend time in your media and get them to know you.
  2. Inspire them and help them to create new ideas and new dreams.
  3. Educate the customer on the issues related to your business and create a feeling of trust.
  4. Finally, convince the customer to use your services to retain the best possible solution to his or her problem.

Know your customers to know the preferred social medias and content. Track the impact and you know what to develop. By being consistent and attentive, you are reliable and on people’s mind.

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.

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.

 

 

SMEs should use web analytics for competitive advantage

A first semester studying Tourism Marketing and Management at UEF showed that most of the tourism companies in Finland are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).  These companies are trying to market their offerings to consumers, by directing them to the company’s webpage to increase traffic, and hopefully future profits. In many cases, this is where the focus on the customer journey stops. Nowadays, it’s not enough for the SMEs to direct traffic to their webpage. The companies have to know what potential customers are doing there.

For various reasons, many SMEs have not considered web analytics as something that would be beneficial for future success. Everyone is online nowadays and many make most of their purchase decisions using at least some kind of online materials. For SMEs it is especially important to think long and hard, where and how to spend the marketing budget. Without the use of web analytics, it is next to impossible for them to properly analyse the results of their marketing campaigns.

The traditional view of web analytics is that it is only for giant companies, SMEs should steer away from this kind of thinking. The presumption is entirely misleading. All companies can and should use web analytics tools! Without web analytics tools, it is difficult to see the results of marketing campaigns. Analytics give SMEs insight into what they’re doing right and what could be improved.

There are many different web analytics tool out there. Understandably, it might be confusing for entrepreneurs to get started. For tracking traffic and conversions companies could start using Google Analytics. From Google Analytics, SMEs can get a huge amount of data. This tool is highly beneficial for tracking the success of various marketing campaigns. Web analytics can also be used to track the performance in social media. Many customers nowadays use social media to form an overview of the company that they are buying from. Many social media platforms offer the tools to track the company’s performance. There are no reasons for SMEs not to use these tools.

The use of web analytics tools helps SMEs to understand their customers and this way develop competitive advantage! You can do digital marketing without analytics, but the only way to get the best bang for your buck is to connect your digital marketing efforts to digital analytics.

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.

The most important concept in destination marketing?

What is a concept or a term that every destination marketer should know and understand about destination marketing? I think I found it. It is very catchy. A bit marketing-oriented even. Quickly thought, something far-fetched? But coherent and makes a lot of sense when thought more deeply.

It gathers up something very wide in one tight, distinct term. It makes me go “aha” and to nod. Have I now learned the most important concept during my master studies in tourism?

Destination DNA

Understanding Destination DNA is the key to plan and implement destination marketing. The identity of a place, the code written there by nature, the basic framework of a certain destination. It is something not to invent. It is something that already exists and has existed for a long time. It cannot be faked to be something it is not or changed to something else.

Destination Marketing DNA

Destinations, embrace your identity!

Place DNA is the destination’s competitive identity, and that’s why it is important to dig out. It must be deeply understood and commonly agreed among the entrepreneurs and residents in the area – the destination’s ‘frontline ambassadors’: those with whom visitors come into contact.

It is the atmosphere, the setting, and surrounding, the natural staging of the destination. It makes the genuine holiday experience possible to happen, to exist.

Or can the DNA of a destination change?

Actually, will it – eventually – anyway?

No. It won’t. Destination DNA is something that stays as it is. Presence, personality, and characteristics change. Or rather, develop. It is important to distinguish these two.

As important as it is for a destination to be well aware of its DNA, it is important to understand that once it’s known, it cannot be ignored, left unattended or unutilized.

What matters the most in destination marketing?

People build the destination marketing

Destination DNA is the basis of “what” and the core for “how”. Also, it gives the visitor a purpose, “why”. What makes a certain destination special? How are the available attributes possible to experience during the visit? Why should someone visit in the first place?  Therefore, an essential concept in tourism marketing and management.

As I stated in the beginning, learning this term got me captivated by its importance. Destination DNA – I pondered, maybe even the most important realization considering my tourism studies? Well, it is a term. A written, nicely formulated concept. Putting into practice, another thing. And who does it?

The people.

People behind the product, the service,

the experience.

Heart and soul to destination marketingThe final touch, in connection with the customer, comes from the business owners and the employees. They, the people, are the ones who transform the destination into a tourism product. Into experiences which breathe the place atmosphere.

And they add their own personal DNA into it,

 to make it memorable for the people.

For the customer.

 

 

 

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.