Posts in the Virrat category

The new digital channels and social media platforms offer for SMEs (small and mediumsized enterprises) in tourism and travel businesses a lot of opportunities to target and access markets at low cost, and to achieve business and sustainability goals.

It is important to create marketing strategies and select appropriate integrated online and traditional marketing and marketing communications activities, tools and channels, including websites, digital, mobile and social media channels, for various customers/customer groups, target markets and businesses, taking into consideration the size and type of the business.

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

Marketing environment, tourism as a service product and offerings, value proposition and brand, marketing plan, strategy and management, enlarged marketing mix

Marketing is a concept that relates to forward looking strategies to understand customer needs, influence customer perceptions, and identify how a company can capitalize on that. Initial steps for a novice entrepreneur to successfully do marketing include; establishing and increasing the customer base, increasing the product sales per customer and encouraging repeat business, and increasing the sales of more expensive, higher margin products per customer.

The micro-environment includes the actors, such as customers, competitors, suppliers and other stakeholders, whilst the macro-environment consists of political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and the legal environment (PESTEL). New technologies have made it easier for us to find out about the markets around the world, to travel, to buy and sell anywhere. In analysing the current situation it is important to conduct market situation, customer, competition situation and competitor analyses.  Customers are vital to our business, so know your customers well.

The company should identify the target markets and distinct segments, select the target markets and customers to approach, develop a market offering,  do positioning, and do targeted marketing for them.  This applies to consumer, business-to-business and other markets.

Nowadays, people use more and more TripAdvisor, Trivago, Instagram and other similar platforms, the Internet, Facebook and other social media as information sources when planning their trips and finding out information on the destinations etc. The amount of bookings done online via the website of the companies and via the online travel agents, such as Booking.com etc. has increased rapidly. However, the use of traditional booking methods and also the influence of family members, friends, travel agents etc. as information sources vary between various markets and cultures, and companies should take this into consideration when making decisions on marketing.

Tampere in Finland

Tampere in Finland

Tourism can be thought of as producing a total tourist experience that will include everything from the pre-planning, the purchase, the journey, the visit and stay, the return journey and overall reflection on the activity. Tourism, hospitality and leisure products/services are a service product having specific characteristics: intangibility, perishability, inseparability and variability. The value of a tourism product is based upon: perceived quality, service and image associated with the brand/product, the price asked and the relativity to prices for similar products, the convenience of purchase and the amount by which the purchase fits the needs and aspirations of the customer.

The intangible value proposition is made physical by an offering, which can be a combination of products, services, information, and experiences.  A brand is an offering from a known source but you can achieve this known source position fairly quickly if you have a valued proposition that you market with care and originality.

We have to start with a marketing plan. Marketing strategy is the overall guideline for the company to manage and allocate its resources the best possible way. Marketing strategy has a focus on actions, such    as promotion. It has been suggested that every successful marketing strategy should have the following attributes: customer at the centre of everything, networking, different forms of partnering, having a corporate culture and effective use of technology.

The marketing management process includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P’s of marketing that are:

  1. Identification, selection and development of the product.
  2. Determination of its price.
  3. Selection of a distribution channel to reach the prospective customer.
  4. The development and implementation of a promotional strategy.

Enlarged marketing mix in tourism consists of products/services/destinations, price, place (location, logistics, distribution channels), marketing communications, people, processes, programs, and performance.   

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

 

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

 

Determine integrated marketing communications activities, tools and channels

Integrated marketing communications mix includes personal selling (also sales events and workshops to meet b-to-b customers, e.g. travel agents, tour operators and travel organisations), advertising, sales promotion (including exhibitions and trade fairs), publicity and public relations, events and experiences, direct and database marketing, online, mobile and social media marketing, word of mouth, marketing through networks etc.

One of the key aspects of marketing strategies is building a brand identity.  Sales is the ‘push’ to buy the product once the customer is there, marketing is the ‘pull’ that gets the customer to you in the first place. The important thing for any business owner is to focus on both the ‘pull’ and the ‘push’ effectively, and this will ensure that your business is positioned to succeed.

Online, mobile and social media marketing

There is a multitude of low cost channels and platforms for online, mobile and social media marketing, such as websites, emails, search ads, display ads, company blogs, third-party chat rooms, forums and blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube etc.

Marketers distinguish paid and owned media from earned media.  For tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses the value of earned media is significant.

Generally the advice is to include moving pictures – videos – and include as many pictures and videos whether provided by you or your customers. 

You can find in the SMARTOUR Marketing and social media module some advice for building and using pages on Facebook but the advice would easily fit with other platforms. You can also find some information about blogs.

Setting up a simple website

In the SMARTOUR Marketing and social media module you find essentials that every small business website should have for it to effectively help you to do business. Remember also that you should make your website mobile-friendly.

For everyone developing a travel website and venturing into social media VisitBritain is very useful with an online marketing toolkit on its website https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en

You find the Online marketing toolkit and other toolkits as follows: after entering the website, click Corporate, click Developing England’s tourism, and click under Business advice hub Engaging customers through social media etc.

For further information, visit also VisitFinland website http://www.visitfinland.com/

To find out more about marketing and social media and related case studies from UK, Finland and Italy, visit www.smartourproject.eu

 

References

Cheverton, P. 2004. Key Marketing Skills: strategies, tools and techniques for marketing success. 2nd edition. London, UK: Kogan Page Ltd.

Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D., Wanhill, S. 2008. Tourism. Principles and Practice. Fourth edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. 2016. Marketing Management. 15th edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Paley, N. 2007. Marketing Strategy Desktop Guide. Second edition. London, UK: Thorogood Publishing Ltd.

Wood, M.B. 2014. The Marketing Plan Handbook. 5th Edition. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

 

Emmiina Lindfors and Ella Laakso assisting in registration

Emmiina Lindfors and Ella Laakso assisting in registration

 

SMARTOUR Event in Tampere 2 - participants waiting for training

SMARTOUR Event in Tampere – participants waiting for training

 

Event on “Social media in marketing” in Tampere, Finland

 

Hanna Takala training

Hanna Takala training

Free event on “Social media in marketing” was organised by TAMK in April 2017 in Tampere, Finland. In the event for tourism and travel businesses and accommodation providers, SMARTOUR project, course and online tool were presented and training in Finnish on online marketing and social media was organised. Over 50 participants were very satisfied with the event and training on online marketing and social media.  For more information about this and other events, visit http://www.smartourproject.eu  and  https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

Waiting for the certificates

Waiting for the certificates

 

Iris Mäkinen, Katriina Hyvölä, Teija Lindell & Tiina Aaltonen and the certificates with Pirkko Varis, Hanna Takala and Irja Pietilä

Iris Mäkinen, Katriina Hyvölä, Teija Lindell and Tiina Aaltonen and the certificates with Pirkko Varis, Hanna Takala and Irja Pietilä

 

Text: Pirkko Varis, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Photos: Anneliis Tomingas & Mika Mäkiaho

 

 

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Participants of the intensive course together with Pirkko Varis in Lomasaari, Virrat

Participants of the intensive course together with Pirkko Varis in Lomasaari, Virrat

We spent one week in Tampere and Virrat, Finland in fall 2014. The coordinator of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network and the intensive course “Business Innovation Focussed on Experience-based Products/Services”, Senior Lecturer in Marketing Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Finland organised for us the programme. Altogether 26 students and 8 staff members from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Norway joined the intensive week. From TAMK, Finland students Veera Hahtala, Jukka Hartikainen, Jonna Hurmansalo, Jenni-Maria Korhonen, Marika Ropanen and Mihail Kastrunis took part in the course.

Assignment from Suomen Hopealinja Oy

Assignment from Suomen Hopealinja Oy

Assignment and the coordinator Pirkko

Assignment and the coordinator Pirkko

On Saturday we had a welcome session with some teambuilding activities and we could get acquainted with each other and spend some time together. On Sunday we did a sightseeing tour in the city of Tampere and got familiar with the ships of the company Suomen Hopealinja Oy (Finnish Silverline Ltd.) in the harbour as part of our assignment. The tour included a visit to Pyynikki Observation Tower with a view on Viikinsaari island.

Danish students on top of Pyynikki Observation Tower

Danish students on top of Pyynikki Observation Tower

A view to the Viikinsaari island

A view to the Viikinsaari island

After the sightseeing tour we spent some time in Tampere and thereafter travelled to Virrat where we had accommodation in wooden houses by the lake in Lomasaari.

Proposal approved!

Proposal approved!

Accommodation in houses by the lake in Lomasaari, Virrat

Accommodation in houses by the lake in Lomasaari, Virrat

On Monday morning we had presentations of all the countries and study programmes taking part in the course. We also followed a presentation on “Get the message across” given by Vidar Alvarstein from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics. We were divided into teams and we were given the assignment from the company. The aim was to suggest events and services to be offered for various customer groups during the summer season. It was also a wish that we give suggestions for marketing communications mix for various customer groups.

Some members of Finland team

Some members of Finland team

On Monday afternoon we worked in teams at Virrat campus of TAMK. We had ideation process and sessions with Janita Saarinen from Idema Oy and all activities were related to the assignment. We also could visit Virrat attractions and the harbour of Virrat. On Tuesday and Wednesday we worked hard in our teams and finalized our ideas. We also delivered our reports and presentations by the deadline.

Team idea generation on the lake in Virrat

Team idea generation on the lake in Virrat

On Thursday we travelled from Virrat to Tampere where our presentations took place at TAMK main campus. All teams did great work. On Thursday evening we had a closing ceremony and dinner. We congratulated the winners, thanked the organisers and all participants, took a lot of pictures and headed to the city centre to continue our last evening together. On Friday we left Finland with all wonderful memories.

 Presentation by Tuuli, Marika, Indré, Christian and Daniel

Presentation by Tuuli, Marika, Indré, Christian and Daniel

 Audience including judges Monika Didžgalvytė, Christian Hammerich, Kristo Krumm and the company representative Jutta Lenander preparing for presentations

Audience including judges Monika Didžgalvytė, Christian Hammerich, Kristo Krumm and the company representative Jutta Lenander preparing for presentations

The happy winning team Madis, Caroline, Marion, Jonna, Rokas and Mihail

The happy winning team Madis, Caroline, Marion, Jonna, Rokas and Mihail

Norwegian students on top of Pyynikki Observation Tower

Norwegian students on top of Pyynikki Observation Tower

In the following some students share their experiences and thoughts of the intensive course and time in Finland

Students from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, Tromsø

Marion Knutsen:
I will remember the week as a place where networking, friendships, knowledge and long-life experiences were made, as cliché that sounds. The teamwork between the students/teachers from different national backgrounds gave me several impressions that I had not considered in advance, and in lighted problems and solutions in different perspectives. I learned strengths and weaknesses in me, as well as in other members of my team, and then we made the “result” work smoothly together. I also learned different idea generation tools, how to make creative minds just blossom with interesting ideas, with guidance of a professional coacher. These tools I’ve already imprinted in my daily study routine. We got excellent service from the bus company Ykspetäjä Oy, Lepikonmäki-yhtiöt including finding the lost items. Pirkko, I want to say thank you for your effort for this course, not just on my behalf. One word summary: Illuminating.

Emil Skoglund Ellefsen:
I had a wonderful time and I learned a lot. Thank you so much for everything you did to make sure we had a good experience.

Daniel Valla Villmones:
I have only good things to say about the Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation week. My goals before I started the course were simply to make new friends and challenge myself, and I managed to fulfil each goal and even more goals than my original ones. I’ve made new international friends that I’m sure I’ll run into at a later stage of my life. I also managed to challenge myself, I really put my soul into the idea we created. Being on course also made me realise the importance of teamwork. Back in my home country I usually work by myself, because that is what I’m used to. I would also like to mention that the free time activities also were quite fun. Now that I’m looking back I would like to thank you Pirkko for the existence of this course, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is grateful.

Estonian students and staff members Anneliis and Kristo in Tampere

Estonian students and staff members Anneliis and Kristo in Tampere

Students from Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia

Jonas Grauberg:
Some sentences about our happy time in Finland. The whole week was not only about the project that we did. It was about getting to know different people from different countries. Working in a team with different people was hard, but it was really interesting to see how people approached the topic that we were given. All in all the environment we had in Finland was superb. I would really like to thank everyone who participated in the program, because this whole week was about great people and personalities. And as always. Is nice, wawaweewa.

Riin Marii Jõgis:
It was a great opportunity to meet other foreign students. Nordplus teaches a lot about teamwork and communicating with different people. Instead of hard work it felt like a vacation. Happy times!!!

Tuuli-Marie Soomann:
This programme was an amazing experience to meet different people and have a very good time together. It was the best week of my university life so far. This experience gave me new good friends, extraordinary ideas and positive energy. I definitely will recommend this programme to everybody.

Madis Kerna:
It was an awesome experience. I met new cool people. They came from different countries and difference was seen by people. The best thing was the organisation. It looked like we were on a vacation, but we did work also. I had in Virrat every day sauna and we had good times in fishing. Great experiences.

Kati Kuustik:
Everything was great and I liked it. People were nice and it was interesting to work with foreign students. Organisation and living places were super!

Lithuanian student team

Lithuanian student team

Students from Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Lithuania

Edgaras Kerševičius:
This project for me was a chance to get complex knowledge of foreign business and cultures. Unforgettable people and peaceful atmosphere helped me to solve the project tasks and spend a brilliant time in Finland. Thank you a lot for everything!

Ieva Kinčiūtė:
It was a perfect project which allowed to incorporate international ideas and advised a real company the best solution to a problem. It was a useful international experience, because I had a good opportunity to improve my English speaking skills. I also met many new people from other Baltic and Nordic countries. Although I met many new people, I appreciate that the trip helped me to get to know my Lithuanian friends better, too. Moreover, I visited a new country, Finland. Everything was organised really well. Thank you very much!

Indrė Vitkutė:
In my opinion, this project is contributing to empowering young people to become leaders of the future. Young people had enough potential, brilliant ideas and deserved to be recognized. All teams planned big goals and created very good offers for the company, more than we thought was possible! As well in this way we inspired and motivated ourselves to think beyond our limits. I believe it was a very good opportunity for us! We all are sure we are ready to do better than we ever could! And it is what this project showed to us!
Text: Estonian, Lithuanian and Norwegian students

Photos:Monika Didžgalvytė, Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Lithuania
Anneliis Tomingas, Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia
Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland

The following institutions are members of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network:
Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Business, Finland
The University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, Odense, Denmark
Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia
UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, Tromsø, Norway
Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Kaunas, Lithuania