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Did I learn anything during the past four months?

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opiskelijat Sibelius 2014-aThese few months have been quite an experience with you guys,

colleaguesI write this posting in just reminiscing things that I have written down or taken a picture. We started the semester in September and since a lot has happened, a lot of learning, too. It is good to sum up now if I have learned anything.

Christmas Holidays:

linnaChristmas was a very happy time. My granddaughters left home on Monday last week and we spent 24 hours together daily through Christmas holidays. I did not give a thought to my students. Thank you for that.

talvi ullas

And we had the most varied weather. The Heavens gave a miracle on 21st December and a real Winter Wonderland descended also on the southern coast of Finland. We spent a lot of time in the snow, lit a fire by the barbecue place in the Ullas Park in Kallvik. We had sausages with us to grill outdoors but it became too cold to eat them outdoors so we came in. The best things are very simple and free.  I wrote about winter holidays in Helsinki a couple of years back: ”Polar bears seen in Helsinki last week.”  http://ullisexperience.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/polar-bears-seen-in-helsinki-last-week-2/

What did I learn: Helsinki is a great place for winter holidays with children. We have to emphasize the develop of service design for children on our courses. When children are happy, the family is happy and daddy is happy to pay. What do children desire? I love to learn more about this, and I will.


We experienced some snow already in Porvoo the week before, where Heather introduced us Hommanäs chutneys and jams and some organic beer from Malmgård. We enjoyed the taste, except for the beer bottle stayed closed.a heatherHommanäs is an old manor, original home of Stefan Löfving who became a hero in the 18th century fighting bravely against the intruding Russian troops. The manor was developed by Brita Andersson, always a very hard working lady who established a succesful catering and travel business. His son now continues the company. Read more: http://www.hommanas.com/en/

It is worth to know also Malmgård. The organic beer of Malmgård is sold in many shops and restaurants.  The Manor has been owned by a nobel family Creutz from early 17th century,  the Count of Malmgård Johan Creutz, runs an enormous estate of 500 hectares of ecologically cultivated fields. The total land area of the manor is one of the biggest in Finland including wild forests and kilometers of the coast of the Gulf of Finland. They even have a private game keeper to tend the wild beasts in the forests. The manor house itself is full of treasures, historical artifacts and documents, art, the library full of rare books and manuscripts. The Count has told that they have a rule in the family that each generation can bring to the house what they want but nothing is taken away when the generations change. http://malmgard.fi/wordpress/?page_id=12&lang=en

a ryhmakuvaPorvoo river runs on the western side of the oldest road in Finland, in Porvoo this way is called Jokikatu. The route is known as the King´s Road. http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuninkaantie . The road was kept by the order of the King of Sweden between (Bergen, Norway) Stockholm and Vyborg and Moscow as a post route.  Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland. Turku was founded first. Porvoo is first mentioned as a city in texts from 14th century. Here some Wikipedia information of Porvoo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porvoo

a haikon lehmat

Porvoo as well as rest of the country have strong rural roots. Once professor Matti Klinge asked his audience: What is changed in two hundered years in Porvoo, when we know that the city and the surrounding region have preserved most of it´s old buildigs? – The people. You don´t see people working in the fields or streets anymore. All are indoors and the machines take care of agricultural work. ” This picture in Haikko manor gives still the feeling of old days and one can imagine the original odour of cowhouses and warm milk.

What did I learn: Eastern Uusimaa is interesting. New target markets could be developed: Swedish clients could experience the history of Sweden. There are many memories and stories starting from the Viking era. The borders between the Imperial Russia and Kingdom of Sweden has changed during centuries and the border zone lies in the Eastern Finland.Suomen itäraja

Tuomaan markkinat at the Senate Square

laura ja

We learned about entrepreneursihp this autumn and arranged a benchmarking in Tuomaan markkinat. I traced many of our students at the Senate Square benchmarking and exploring the businesses. Here Laura Kavas and Itzel Rocio Labra Degante tasting the warm drink flavoured with orange flower. I tasted it too and it turned me green. selfieOn the way to the square I stopped at Minna Parikka´s shoe store. This is one of the best design shops in Helsinki. I found just matching shoes for Anu:b tennarit and these would suit on Maarit:

a maaritin kengatand as for me, I love my red boots.

What did I learn: It is nice and sustainable to window-shop presents to your friends.

Happy Guide Helsinki 

On the same night we learned a lot of Karri´s (Karri Korppi, Happy Guide Helsinki) presentation at the Lasipalatsi – he told us how to become a succesfull travel entrepreneur in Helsinki in just one year´s time. Karri´s success is based on top quality of services, trained guides who are on payroll, and an excellent feedback from the clients. Karri´s best marketing tool has been the Trip Advisor and you can view it here:  http://www.tripadvisor.fi/Attraction_Review-g189934-d4097332-Reviews-Happy_Tours_Helsinki-Helsinki_Southern_Finland.html#REVIEWS

Also Heather tells her best marketing tool has so far being the Trip Advisor.maarit 1

Maarit had arranged Helmi College travel students the possibility to participate in decorating a Christmas tree in the garden on the National Museum. Maarit´s design consisted of reusable white styrofoam pearls with Helmi light green ribbons.

helmikuusi 1and here we sing Jingle Bells. The rest of the team met others in the Railway Station Square but I decided to pop in the museum first:a kevat

What did I learn: The spring is coming, look at  river running free in the Twenties.  I have a lot to learn of our culture and history. And I will find ways to fight for free rivers. And when coming out of the museum the Christmas tree park was full of admirers and I heard them praise the shining trees. I learned that there are millions of ideas just waiting to be carried out and realised.


We had several interesting lecturers during the autumn. Tuomo Meretniemi, the former CEO of Aurinkomatkat – Suntours told us what it means to operate online.  He said: ”In the Internet everybody is the same size”. sailHe is designing a round the world sailing with his family. http://vimeo.com/103750043

What did I learn: I am not quite sure if I agree with Tuomo that the Internet is equal to everybody. The old wisdom ”where the money is on the move there are the robbers, too”. There are big players and there are small players. But the swift ones can manage. Yes.  I learned this: If you publish anything online – be ready to accept that it is published. And I learned that one has to be brave and bold and prepared in the internet, it is a great net with great opportunities.

helsinki markkinointiWe learned about the marketing strategy and tools of Helsinki. This is tourism promotion, introduced by Outi Leppälä.

mari suihko

Mari Suihko works on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and she showed us the charming world you can operate on different type of cruises. The fleet of the company is suitable for all needs and tastes and many of the cruisers have been built in Finland. In Matka Travel Fair a number of our students train on the RCCL: stands.

Tourism teachers meet in Jyväskyläswarbrook

Dr. John Swarbrook has written many good books, we all in travel have read his book of the Sustainable Tourism. It meant a great deal to me some 20 years ago. He gave a shuddering lecture to tourism teachers in November in Jyväskylä. Here is what I wrote down, it is worth of reading:

”We are in the middle of the Experience Economy”, he says and gives his thesis:

  • Traditional approaches to customer segmentation no longer work. Impact of Internet, online services is essential, we have to design globally available products.
  • We should create customized experiences and understand the importance of co-creation (with clients and inside social networks).
  • Inventing constantly new tourist experiences is vitally important. The tourist will buy anything new. Service products should be the antidote to everyday life of stress and unhealthy way of living. The tourist service product can be a help – not cure.
  • They pay anything for that. Make people feel good and less guilty.
  • Why don´t you utilize the best invention in the world, your SAUNA! You just happily sit on it.
  • A day in a spa – SAUNA EXPERIENCE – will take their guilt away.
  • Your airline Finnair is a budget airline but with high prices and no service. The new Sky bistro is a ridiculous way to cover this fact.
  • VFM = value for money. Tourists are looking for added value. They want to feel they have made a good deal. They need popular culture, too, sports programs.
  • In Finland the websites and brochures promote things of not very peculiar interest. Little municipalities are branding themselves. In the pictures are no people, all is dead. There is actually nothing that would make me come here. Take the tourist´s point of view!
  • Start product development. Your training lacks product and service development.
  • Your service lacks finesse. If a tourist comes to ask fo a service, the answer is: NO.
  • Last night I was asking at the hotel if I could loan an iron to iron my shirt. The answer was: NO. Not “sorry, but …”. I said that you definitely have an iron in this house or a service to get one´s shirt ironed. – NO. I asked: Why? –We used to have them but some clients stole and we ended the service. That’s all.
  • Dear friends: Please you could at least pretend to give good service. Finésse in service requires education in other service environment, like in Switzerland. And I am not saying anything of the service up in the North where they have a very poor quality.
  • You should educate tourism professionals to behave politely, let your students learn the good manners, dignity. The mechanical work skills, hard work and caring about the job and the clients should be a part of the professional integrity.

swarbrook wont pay

swarbrook strat

And above you will see some of his slides. Well, some have the jungle and exotic animals..anu ja viidakkovaatteet

we have the exotic tourism teachers and the sauna. Here Anu with Reija Sandelin from Haaga-Helia. Mr. Swarbrook specifically emphasized that sauna is not utilized at all in our tourism service product development or in marketing.anu ja vaatteetAnu found nice dresses in the local shop in Jyväskylä – I suggested them as the new uniform for guides for the coming season – but she said no. Maybe she is right. (…but they might fit for the boy guides with broad shoulders. The boys never get any new clothes.)

What did I learn: We honestly have to face the facts of the level of our professional skills and do something about the marketing, product development, sales and services. Only the best quality is worth for our clients. We need tourism in out national economy, export of services. We have to be able to be proud of Finland and our hospitality and our colleagues.

maanviljelijan työ

Here something in Chinese and in Finnish that I learned on my way home from work. At the metro station in Itäkeskus.

What did I learn: Sustainability is the only sensible and creative way to live.

I learned hopefully a lot more, but this is for now. Let´s blog. Ullis



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