Complexity of academic research

To understand the world

I’ve started my university (academic research) studies this autumn. I´m 32 years old, and I like my age. At least for me, the somewhat life experience gives a better feeling in this rather complex overall feeling that I am having at the moment. I will get back to this later.

I’ve realized the complexity of dealing with academic research and creating my personal content into it, in this world of “no- black and white, “no- single wrong or right”- dilemmas of academic studies in general. This is not totally new founding for me – but now I am really in this in practice, because of my master degree studies in Tourism marketing and management programme.

Accepting, and using common sense

Recently I asked from my professor during one lectures discussion – How I can know whether it is fine or correct to use some “basic” theory as a background of some subject from what I’m trying to write about, or not?  She answered (looking at me first with the facial expression of “exactly- good question, but…” and then she gave me and the group the answer of her that there is no clear answer for this, you need to use your common sense in these cases for making your decisions and choices.

I´m little surprised that it feels so disturbing for me, (or whoever involved in the academic research), that it is, at least usually, very hard to find the one and only truth or theory for some subject or theme that we are studying. I happen to be quite flexible and highly spontaneous personality myself.  So it makes it even weirder. I come back to my age-thing. Because of it, and maybe other reasons too, I’m still very happy not to be stressing this issue too much. I’m fine with it, I understand that I’m not alone with it, – I’m just reflecting it.

Dreaming about getting that absolute truth out…

Though I’m very curious to know, whether I’m actually capable at some point during my studies to get use of the theory or truth which I can use as an “absolute” for some subjects research findings or as a suggestion of my own for some topic.

My teacher said that “the only constant thing in this world is change”, as a starting point for further discussion. I agree mostly with this statement, however, I cannot say it is an absolute truth to everything. It is somehow easy, comfortable and kind of highly secured for me to realize and feel, that example the most important theories for researchers to use, apply and form formulate something new (!) already exists.

Hong Kong, 2011 (Jenni Kaitila)

Or not

This gives me huge importance when dealing with the almost absolute complexity and no- single truth experiences while I’m studying the life of academic research. I remember also, that this same teacher stated the truth about also agreeing that in fact, the main theories and typologies in general already have been founded before. And the timeless value of sources which exists in those. He said this during the information technology- courses discussion session, and I absolutely liked the moment and the fascinating, yet somehow secured feeling of having the experience of learning same time about the new world and information technology – and somewhat it’s relying on still in the theories presented and founded already from decades ago.

Hong Kong (Macao), 2011 (Jenni Kaitila)

Using Pixel Hotel idea for entrepreneurship

Can we own a hotel or start hotel business with our limited money? You may think that the answer is no. But, I would say Yes, and you will probably agree with me if you take a closer look at pixel hotel business idea in Austria.

Pixel hotel is a new form of hotel business which I recently learned while studying tourism destination marketing course. I got so interest to this idea that, I wanted to learn more about this and share my thoughts.

Whenever we think about a hotel, what usually comes to our mind? A nice tall building with lot of rooms in different floors with many other facilities. But, Pixel hotel is just the opposite. “The city is the hotel” which is the slogan of pixel hotel and it works like that. This new idea of hospitality industry came into existence in 2006. The idea originated from a concept made by a group of young architects and designers in Linz, Austria.

Pixel hotel is a cultural enterprise in Linz, with the aim of giving guests a direct experience of unusual accommodation with certain particularities. Another aim of this association is to utilize unused properties in urban and rural areas in profitable way. This also gives an opportunity to their guests to stay close to their travel destination. Hence, tourists get more time to travel. Targeted tourists are those people, who love watching things a bit slower and bit closer. As an accommodation project, it has become an international recognized brand which was cited as an example of innovative tourism in 2009. Rooms of pixel hotel are scattered in whole city which can be an old building, workshop or basically anything which can be used as accommodation.

Picture of the first prototype Pixel Hotel which was in an empty garage.

Similarly, for pixel guests, there is not any certain restaurant to offer lunch and dinner. Rather guests are invited to discover the local food and culture and to know the story of that place.

In my opinion, this is a very nice business idea to learn from. This idea can be utilized to start hotel business with very little money and with minimum preparation. Another competitor in the market is Airbnb, but people who rent apartment there usually own only one apartment and that is not their main source of income. On the other hand, an establish hotel is always more reliable to the guests and more profitable.

How Pixel hotel idea can be utilized in Finland

Finland is a big country with very little population. Most of the tourists’ services like hotels and transportation facilities are available mainly in big cities and in the center areas. So, when tourists visit Finland, they tend to stay in those places which are close to their hotel and where public transport are available. Because of this, attractions in small towns and places remain unknown and undiscovered by most of the tourists. But, we can utilize pixel hotel idea here to arrange accommodation and other facilities for the tourists in all over the country, then it may appear as an attractive tourists’ service for those who will plan to visit Finland in future.

Idea: A simple house can be used as a hotel

Moreover, there are many empty houses and apartments in every cities and towns which are ready to use or with little arrangements can be made ready to rent to make money. People can use this idea to start their own business with a limited money and minimum risk.


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.

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?


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

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.

Why study hospitality, travel, and tourism?

The main reason to study hospitality, travel and tourism is to work in the field. Hotels, airlines, destination, attractions, transportation, cruises, events, activity providers, shopping centers, tourist services, travel agents, tour operators and many others together form together a huge industry. It is a  practice-oriented field and an interesting one. It is in constant growth and needs more and more skilled workers and innovators every year. There are so many good reasons why you should study hospitality, travel, and tourism:

Tourism is a service industry

Everywhere in the Western world service industries are booming. One of these industries is travel and tourism. By studying tourism you position yourself right in the very center of service. You will learn skills that are transferable to many other industries. Being a service and human-to-human industry, it is also one of those that will need hard-working and creative people in the future.

Tourism is an experience economy

Most jobs in the tourism industry are about creating experiences for the traveler. This is what makes this industry especially interesting. When you are studying tourism you will learn how to create these memorable experiences. When you are working in the industry, you will need to be able to adapt and improvise what you have learned as

Every day is different

No matter where you study or what position you get in the tourism industry, it is guaranteed that almost every day is different. You will meet new people that come all around the world and they will make sure that no day is like another. Every tourist has different expectations, motivations, moods, experiences and opinions that will make your job interesting and also most likely a little bit challenging.

Dubai is witnessing the growth of tourism
Tourism is growing

Tourism is witnessing huge global growth every year and it is forecast to grow far into the future. It is definitely an industry of the future. Growth means that more and more skilled workers are needed all over the world. By studying tourism you give yourself the skills and knowledge to be a part of this growth.

Tourism is global

First and foremost tourism is a global industry. From Antarctica to space there are tourists everywhere. By studying tourism only the sky is the limit (well, actually, not even that!) to where you can work and what you can do.

Tourism is local

Despite being a global industry, it is also very local. Most of the tourism businesses are small- and medium-sized companies that provide income and jobs for local people. When you are working for the tourism industry there are many possibilities for you to contribute to your local community.

You get to travel

There are many positions in the field that enables you to travel a lot. You have to familiarize yourself with tourism destinations, attractions, and services, maybe guide tourists in exotic places or do research in foreign countries. Travel broadens your perspective on everything and tourism industry has plenty of possibilities to travel.

Tourism is fun

Tourism might not be the best option if you want to earn a lot of money. But if you value other things such as having fun, meeting new people,  enjoying life and doing what you like, tourism and hospitality offers plenty of options. People studying and working in the field are typically relaxed, outgoing and international.

Where to study travel, tourism, and hospitality?

There are plenty of fantastic opportunities to study tourism all around the world. One of these opportunities is the International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management at University of Eastern Finland. This program provides you the knowledge and skills required to work in various development positions in the tourism industry and take the field forward with your actions.


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

For further information, please contact:

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