Do I really need to pay for this?

While you are on vacation, we are at work.

I would be extremely happy if all the travelers read this blog article. It´s a show of respect for all those working in Tourism Industry, fighting for their livelihood in these difficult times.

To start – it´s understandable to envy Tourism professionals who seem to be privileged while working in careless atmosphere with relaxed and happy people. Working in Tourism business is a kind of vocation: we love to do what we do and don´t count the hours when flexibility is needed – often because of unforeseen and involuntary change – to make sure our guests are happy and pleased.

There are also plenty of lucky professionals  working outdoors, free from the stagnant atmosphere of offices, schedules, annoying bosses and Excels. Lucky them! The only sad side is that there are jobs and pay only when there are paying customers. This year, less than ever, but still, those who love their work are ready to serve when jobs call.

What one sees while meeting professionals is the best part of the show: the moment on stage, authentic performance that has been practiced and even the famous plan B has been done. Tourism professionals have studied years to gain skills and continuous further training is necessary.

The job description also includes mandatory and regularly renewed certificates such as safety passport and first aid certificate. Language skills, emotional intelligence and general knowledge are required for natural and genuine interaction.

Tourism professionals have been blamed for poor financial management

We cannot avoid the fact that there are lot of life style entrepreneurs in Tourism industry.  But is it a problem or a shame?

Life style entrepreneur aims to do one´s  best and does the work, not only with reason but also with heart. The other fact is that there are also entrepreneurs who do not have studies or skills in all the required areas relevant to the business and can´t be blamed for that.

Running a tourism business is the sum of many skills and that makes it also challenging. Entrepreneurs should buy outsourced services insofar as their own skills or time are not enough. Purchase of these services may seem like an extra expense  – specially when cash flow is low – even if they are necessary from the point of view of service quality and profitability in the long run.

Poor financial management can be due to the difficulty of pricing. The price of a tourist service consists of very many parts. The most challenging part has been shown to be the pricing of  entrepreneur’s own time although it is ultimately the most important resource. Another risky price reduction target is the staff.

Pricing is one of the invisible background influences when the curtain rises and the show begins – do we have any paid audience? How we have convinced the guests that this service is worth the price, how we redeem the promises and how we ensure that the price is so attractive and profitable that the curtain can be reopened again and again.

Yes, you really should pay for the service

The state of emergency caused by COVID-19 and the crisis have raised the debate about the pricing of tourism services to the social media channels favored by domestic tourists and from there on to traditional media and back again to social media.

Entrepreneurs have tried to make their voices heard to justify the prices.  Interest in nature based tourism and domestic destinations has grown which is very positive phenomenon. Tourism companies have developed new services in new situation trying to understand the needs of the new segments. The challenge has been the short season, which follows the holiday times of domestic tourists, marketing and pricing. And the fact that there are few of us, 5,5 million people live in Finland.

Finns travel the most among European Union citizens, more than 90 percent of those over 15 years make at least one trip (Eurostat 2017). The average Finn makes eight trips a year, half of them in Finland (according the studies before COVID-19). The study conducted during the Finnish Travel Fair 2020 in Helsinki confirmed the same result. Now, what matters us most when living this special moment of COVID-19, are the services bought and money spent.

Travelers are not used to spend as much money  while travelling home as when travelling abroad. The picture above shows, among other things, that Finns are used to accommodate on a domestic trip mostly in own cottage or with friends and relatives – for free.

Finns are used to spend time outdoors in nature with no need for guided services. Surviving alone and planning one´s own trip can still be merit for many. We live in a time of attitude change and can´t expect the accustomed way of doing and thinking changing in an instant. But we all can influence and be agents of change.

I had a great experience on a fully organized hiking trip last summer:  Hiking in Senja – understanding the beauty and power of nature.

How about making pricing visible

Instead of arguing about the right price level (which is increasingly tied to values), we could look for ways to understand each other. Responsibility is a value that affects the pricing and should be made visible.

International studies show that customers want responsibly produced services and are willing to pay for them. Studies also show that when the moment comes, the only choice for many consumers is still, unfortunately, the price.

At the moment, making responsible choices while producing services and ensuring the most ethical production chain can rise the price. Finlayson (Finnish textile company established in 1820) has made brave responsibility communications in Finland.

Finlayson launched an advertisement (picture above) a year ago promoting duvet coves in two different prices which were also available for purchase. They showed that the price difference was due to responsible choices.

Concrete doing helps to understand the challenges

My respect for those who make their living by providing tourism services in Finland has risen further since I launched a nature based service as part of Love Forest Finland concept: Forest Walk during which a Love tree is planted. My livelihood is not dependent on this product but it has helped to understand the harsh everyday life when you simply can’t find paying customers enough.

I have started to publish the prices and the costs behind them in very open way. You can find an example of it below:

Regenerative tourism service in Mood of Nature

I have commercialized this concept in accordance with the Regenerative tourism paradigm and I can tell you, I can’t just praise a good cash flow.  My financial balance for this concept is far from positive even though I have been studying and working in Tourism industry all my life.

You can read more about Regenerative tourism (in Finnish) in my blog and for more information in English I suggest you to follow the studies and articles by Anna Pollock.

One and last question: ”Now that you know where the price is made up, what would you be willing to give up to make the price lower?”

Thank you for following my blog. I appreciate any comments and feedback.
Let´s  keep on acting for better future.

With love, 
Anu

 

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