The travel industry is currently going through an enormous catastrophe and a large number of travel companies are suffering from acute liquidity crises. When the current travel restrictions have been lifted, we’ll begin to see the impact on the industry’s operating models as well as the consumers’ will to travel.
One thing is for certain, as the world becomes faster and increasingly complex, we desperately need reliable and up-to-date information to support our decision-making. We must also be prepared to adapt our operating models to a constantly changing business environment and maintain our agility.
Destinations are also hip to the situation. But how should travel destinations be managed so that the potential and resources in the regional ecosystem are utilised effectively while profitability is improved sustainably? In all of this, the development of digital know-how will be a key issue.
Visit Finland’s efforts to aid digital development include a series of pilot projects which were carried out last year (2019) with various destinations. The projects focused on knowledge based management and updating regional operating models to meet modern needs. Based on these projects, we have compiled a handbook on the digital customer experience for travel destinations. It has everything regional travel organisations need to create great customer experiences and secure trade.
In our global industry, there is plenty of talk about Smart Destinations, but we have decided to call our destination development path the Successful Destination Path. A Successful Destination has to be managed systematically and developed sustainably. They must always appear attractive and be readily available. Other topics to consider include effective destination management that accounts for all stakeholders and generated value, transparent knowledge-based decision-making and coordination of projects, among other things. Sustainability and digital operations are at the heart of a Successful Destination across the board.
In the first phase this spring, the development path will be kickstarted with the Digital Development Program that includes Tampere, Oulu, Ruka-Kuusamo, Espoo and Inari-Saariselkä. The program will produce tailor-made plans that support digital transformations in the regions. The tools will be made immediately available to everyone, which means that anyone can also take on their own regional work. The effort is coordinated by FlowHouse, a consulting company specialising in strategic development for travel businesses. Miikka Raulo is our principal consultant while Digital Development Manager Kaisa Kosonen is in charge of the program at Visit Finland. The managers for each main travel region as well as the entire Visit Finland team are also involved. Our goal is to also develop Visit Finland’s services so they meet the needs of developing destinations – this is a shared journey.
We have already put together the Digital Customer Experience Handbook and our Analysis Tool, now available for anyone in Finland to leverage in their operations. However, a more extensive handbook for Successful Destinations is in the works. It will be compiled with the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, putting together insight from different regions and our teams at Visit Finland. We will consider all the characteristics of development work at travel destinations as well as Visit Finland’s new services for destinations.
Let’s make Finland a blooming destination where digital services support sustainable growth! The only way to do it is by working together step by step, learning from each other along the way.
Authors: Kaisa Kosonen and Miikka Raulo
Kaisa Kosonen manages digital development at Visit Finland and Miikka Raulo works at FlowHouse, a consulting company specialising in strategic development in Finland.