Mark Wiltshear compares his experiences booking his two short breaks in summer 2017; a two-night city break in Estonia, and a two-night camping trip in Finland, and finds that Finland’s smaller accommodation still has room for improvement when it comes to appealing to visitors from another country (like him.)
“Improved English language information, better quality images of well-dressed accommodation, and a simple online booking system would be a good start.”
Most of my 2017 summer holiday was spent at home, however, I did book a couple of short trips. The visit to Tallinn was with my girlfriend and the weekend camping was with my two kids and a friend. The accommodation and expectations for the two trips were very different, of course, but both started with the searching and booking process, and the differences there were apparent. I’ll focus on three of those:
The first two images above are from different locations that both offer mökki (wooden cabin) accommodation. There is a certain level of ‘consistency’ and many accommodation providers in Finland will illustrate their bedrooms like this. Finnish visitors seem happy enough to see the space they are sleeping in, but I was not looking for just a sleeping space when I booked my two trips, I was anticipating the experience.
Compare the mökki photos with my apartment in Tallinn, look past the obvious differences in the actual building and notice the bed is made and looks inviting, the furniture looks stylish and the walls are decorated. I was camping in a tent and the link to teltta (tents) showed a photo of a lake, and that didn’t seem a great place to pitch a tent!
It was my first trip to Tallinn and, having found the accommodation, I wanted to know more about the local area. The English language website of my apartment also provided this with pages that described:
- Welcome! An introduction to the history of the building
- Location: what I could find within a few minutes walk.
- In Tallinn: suggested activities if you are staying for 24 hours, 48 hours or 3 days or more
- Accommodation: not only detailed info about the room types, but also a summary of the other tabs – just in case that’s the only page you visit, they made sure I understood Tallinn
In comparison, the Finnish campsites only provided a summary of their accommodation and amenities in English and only a little more detail in Finnish. I wanted to know about the cooking areas, sports facilities and, yes, the bar and grill at the campsite, but all of this was covered in two sentences and no photos. I actually arrived at the campsite and still didn’t really know what to expect.
When booking my Tallinn trip, I actually booked it through booking.com in order to secure a price offer. Having decided which campsite I would stay at, it was not found when I searched booking.com, so I tried booking via their own website, but the only accommodation offered was mökit (cabins) so I had to make a phone call to be sure they would have space for us to pitch our tents.
In summary, there are many areas that Finnish service providers can improve when trying to reach-out to international visitors, long before they arrive to check-in. Improved English language information, better quality images of well-dressed accommodation, and a simple online booking system would be a good start. It may seem that these would be expensive changes to implement, but there is help available.
Xport has a selection of service packages that should qualify for financial support e.g. Innovaatioseteli, Yritysryhmähankkeet. Our team includes both Finnish and International with experience in the HoReCa industry, who can assess, plan and implement changes that you want and need to make.
Mark Wiltshear, Co-founder, Xport