Review of the second year of Tourism Marketing and Management studies

Continuous development of our tourism business studies

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

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

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

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

Table 1. Satisfaction statistics

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

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

Developing tourism business studies

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

Exams / assignments

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

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

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

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

Flipped learning: materials and class meetings

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

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

Scheduling

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

Orientation week

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

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

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

Programme staff

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

Skills and knowledge in our programme

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

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

 

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

 

What we are doing great

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

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

 

Second-year student feedback

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

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

 What happens next?

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

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

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.

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.

 

 

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.

From Marketing Strategy to Values Strategy

Having been processing the concept of marketing strategy during the ongoing autumn due to our course on destination marketing, the concept of strategy has been wandering in my mind. What does it actually mean and how important is it for a (tourism) company?

Applying the concept of strategy

In his book Valonöörin käsikirja (A lightneer’s guide) Frank Martela poses the questions What are our goals, what things are worth doing? and What can we do to reach our goals? as the central questions about the human life. He also points out that too often we do things that we didn’t actively choose to do. Too often we spend time on social media or Netflix though our goal is to do sports and be physically in a good condition. Or maybe we feel pressure to do certain things or maybe we just accept them because that’s how people always have done them. I think these questions and thoughts can be applied to business strategies as well.

During our course on marketing it was highlighted how important the mission, vision and values of the company are when creating a strategy. Another author and teacher Jim Collins reveals in his book Good to Great ways to develop a good company into a great one, based on a broad research. One of the core findings is to first find the right people around you, to keep them around you and then to “figure out the best path to greatness”. Also because with the right people you can more easily face changes in the changing world: “if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then  it’s much easier to change direction”. This can also be seen as a value-based approach: when there’s a group of people who share the same values and hopefully the same mission, it’s easier to set the direction.

Getting the right people on the bus (although the bus might need to be repaired along the way).

 

 

 

Don’t get stuck to the word: it’s about the content

Wikipedia, tells that the word ‘strategy’ derives from the Greek word stratēgia and the original meaning would be something like “art of troop leader, office of general, command, generalship” and that a strategy is a “high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty”. The other week I also had the chance to hear some thoughts about marketing from Timo Kiuru, who works as a creative director for different companies. In his opinion the term ‘strategy’ shouldn’t be used at all. He still stressed the importance of values and to on a weekly basis check if you have been acting according to your values.

It was a very inspiring speech and I also agree that we shouldn’t get too stuck to the word itself or think that if there’s some kind of a strategy, everything will fall into places. The importance of the content of the strategy, the goals and actions have to also be highlighted: a strategy is no use if it’s not concrete, applicable and if it’s not applied. For a company it’s quite essential to define some sort of a strategy. If there is a high level plan with at least some values or core thoughts that are important and/or motivating  it can’t go very wrong. Also, possible changes in the plan don’t necessarily mean it was wrong in the first place.

Setting a direction.

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.

Management by wellbeing

Mindfulness, victorious corporate culture, growth rates that the board cannot accept, going to the gym with your bosses, hiring a personal business coach, fighting loneliness… does not sound like a traditional Finnish management style, does it? In one company it is.

Managing corporate culture and people at SMT

Our Tourism Marketing and Management Programme had the privilege to have CEO of travel and event agency SMT Kirsi Paakkari as a guest speaker to discuss with us about managing corporate culture and people in a way that enables a tourism business to grow.

tourism business management
Kirsi Paakkari discussing corporate culture in tourism

She has successfully merged two ill-performing businesses into a victorious one in a shrinking market, not an easy feat at all. It requires a lot from a manager to change the direction of a business and reach double-digit growth rates. Sometimes traditional Finnish management by perkele (traditional Finnish curse word) style might just not do it. Managers make many choices that define company performance.

Focus on employees management

Kirsi has clearly chosen to focus on the employees of the company. It was great to see how she monitors and leads the wellbeing of her people. She is also managing her company with metrics and data as much as possible while still listening to people. This might be the only way to reach her goal, which is to make SMT the best service company in Finland. This goal is also dependent on trust. Leadership requires trust in many forms. Employees have to trust their leaders and trust in the future of the company. In addition, the manager has to trust the employees, why hire people you cannot trust?

tourism marketing and management
Management education for students

Our student Lari Turunen appreciated how Kirsi decided to bring new people from outside the industry to create new ideas for the company. Lari also noted that when you are building a new culture for a company you have to invest in it. Mergers should not be only about saving money and making companies more efficient but they should also be seen as an opportunity to start anew.

Management by employee wellbeing is similar to human sigma management and has a sound basis in academic literature. There are many challenges ahead for SMT as they integrate with American Express Global Business and are more and more focusing on a growing event market. It will be interesting to see how the company manages these changes and how management by wellbeing works in the future. Could it be the direction of future leadership in Finland or even globally?

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.

What is online business in tourism?

Online business in tourism, digital tourism business, e-business in tourism, e-tourism; call it what you will, it still has a huge impact on how tourism business is conducted. Most of tourism businesses and large part of marketing are now online. The internet is most often used medium to search for information about a holiday or destination. Skills and knowledge of online tools and channels are critical for the competitiveness of a tourism business or destination.

Director of our master’s degree programme in Tourism Marketing and Management, Juho Pesonen, has made his lectures on the topic freely available for anyone interested in the topic. The course was given for the students of Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies during Fall 2016. You can see the course content and access the lectures on YouTube through the course time table below. YouTube videos have links to SlideShare presentations if you want to take a closer look at them:

Juho Pesonen teaching the course

Thursday 3.11.2016 

9.00-10.30 Introduction to E-business in Tourism: history and context

10.30-10.50 Break

10.50-12.30 Theoretical background: central concepts of E-business

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 E-business in practice: what to do

– website

– E-commerce

14.30-14.45 Break

14.45- 15.50 E-business in practice: what to do

– social media and content creation

15.50-16.00 Break

16.00-16.45 Practical examples

Friday 4.11.2016

9.00-10.15 E-business in practice: what to do

– analysing and managing online business

10.15-10.30 Break

10.30-11.25 E-business in practice: what to do

– mobile devices

11.25-11.35-Break

11.35-12.30 E-business in practice: what to do

– Search engine marketing

– Security

– Customer Relationship Management

– Marketing automation, artificial intelligence

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 Destination management and marketing in the era of online business

14.30-14.45 Break

14.45-15.30 Future of tourism in digitalizing world: where are we going?

15.30-16.00 Final conclusions

 

These lectures provide an overview of a wide topic of marketing and managing tourism business in digital environment. A more in-depth view of the topic can be achieved for example in our Master’s Degree Programme.

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