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. 

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!

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.

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.

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”

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.

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.

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.

Peer-to-peer accommodation and sharing economy from tourists’ perspective

Airbnb has become one of the largest accommodation companies in the world if counted by the rooms available. Its rapid growth has been enabled by a phenomenon known as sharing economy. People are less inclined to own things and are getting used to share what they own with other people. Peer-to-peer accommodation happens when a person rents an apartment or a room they own to other person and this is typically enabled by digital platforms such as Airbnb. We wanted to study how this peer-to-peer accommodation phenomenon is shaping tourist behavior results from three different studies are now available online, elaborating what is important in peer-to-peer accommodation from traveler perspective.

Sharing economy and peer-to-peer accommodation
Source: https://intelligence.slice.com/airbnb-bookings-59-percent-muted-major-markets/

How is peer-to-peer accommodation shaping travel behavior?

In the first study we found out that sharing economy and peer-to-peer accommodation especially are good for tourism destinations. Availability of peer-to-peer accommodation enables wider selection of destinations for tourists, increase length of stay, travel frequency and number of activities tourists participate in the destination. Especially travelers’ desires for more meaningful social interactions with locals and unique experiences in authentic settings drive them to travel more often, stay longer, and participate in more activities.

Tussyadiah, I. P., & Pesonen, J. (2016). Impacts of peer-to-peer accommodation use on travel patterns. Journal of Travel Research, 55(8), 1022-1040.

What drives and hinders peer-to-peer accommodation use?

In the second study we explored the market characteristics and the factors that drive and hinder the use of P2P accommodation to better explain the phenomenon of collaborative consumption in the tourism and hospitality marketplace. Using responses from travellers residing in the United States and Finland, exploratory factor analyses revealed two factors that drive the use of P2P accommodation: social appeal (desire for community and sustainability) and economic appeal (cost savings). The barriers include issues of trust, efficacy and familiarity with the system, and cost.

Tussyadiah, I. P., & Pesonen, J. (2016). Drivers and barriers of peer-to-peer accommodation stay–an exploratory study with American and Finnish travellers. Current Issues in Tourism, 1-18.

Airbnb and sharing economy is shaping tourism
Peer-to-peer accommodation

What kind of peer-to-peer accommodation users there are?

In the third study we examined the drivers of peer-to-peer accommodation in more detail and focused on different P2P accommodation user groups. We found out that the major drivers affecting the use of P2P accommodation services are the age of consumers, active use of the Internet and online technologies, and the frequency of international travel. Cluster analysis identified two user profiles corresponding to consumer motivations for using P2P accommodation services. The first consumer group uses P2P accommodation services to make their trips more convenient, while the second uses them mostly for social reasons.

Pesonen, J. & Tussyadiah, I. (2017). Peer-to-peer accommodation: drivers and user profiles. In Dredge, D., & Gyimóthy, S. (Eds.) Collaborative Economy and Tourism. Perspectives, Politics, Policies and Prospects. Springer. pp. 285-303. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319517971

Welcome to Tourism Marketing and Management

Koli, tourism marketing and management
Picture by Karelia Expert

Welcome to the blog of International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management by University of Eastern Finland. This blog is an essential part of the programme and will bring forth the ideas and news from the programme. We aim to build a significant international platform for making tourism better with this programme and the blog. 

The programme will start during Autumn 2017. The programme seeks to attract students from Europe and Asia in particular. The programme is also open to Finnish students interested in tourism studies and holding a relevant Bachelor’s degree. The international nature of the programme makes it possible to create new networks and showcase Finland’s strengths in tourism globally, as well as to obtain new information about tourists coming from abroad.

This kind of a programme in tourism marketing and management hasn’t existed in Finland before, and the programme’s strong focus on tourism marketing will bring new life to the Finnish tourism sector. The key themes of the two-year Master’s degree programme are built around the strengths and opportunities of tourism in eastern Finland: nature, well-being, sustainable tourism, and digitalisation. The launch of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management shows that the University of Eastern Finland is confident in the positive development of the Finnish tourism sector and wants to play a role in supporting that development. Already now, tourism is a major financial factor in North Karelia and elsewhere in Finland. Globally, the tourism sector is growing by several per cent every year.

Konnevesi National Park, Finland
Konnevesi National Park, Finland

The Master’s degree programme will collaborate closely with local, national and international tourism sector companies and other actors. This collaboration is based on close interaction, with the aim of jointly developing business activities and finding solutions for any possible challenges discovered. Graduates of the Master’s degree programme will understand the role of digitalisation, customer care, customer motivation, environmental aspects and nature for the business activities of tourism companies, and they will be able to translate their understanding of these aspects into practical activities. The programme’s graduates will have the skills needed to work in a variety of different roles, for example as entrepreneurs, marketing managers, experts, coordinators, community managers and other positions involving customer relations.

The application period to the Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management will be open from 1 December 2016 to 13 January 2017. For further information, please see the programme website at www.uef.fi/tmm.

For further information, please contact:

Programme coordinator Juho Pesonen, tel. +358 40 184 2698, juho.pesonen(at)uef.fi