On Friday the 26th of October a little over 40 persons arrived to Arctic River Lodge in Tärendö, eager to learn more about product development, pricing & packaging, digital marketing, investment support and online sales. The participants who joined in to take part of the packed program were a mix of established company leaders, future entrepreneurs and other strategic stakeholders within the visiting industry, from both Sweden and Finland.
We started out with lunch to fill up our bodies, before we started to fill our minds. Then Kerstin Sipola, Executive Director of Tornedalen 2020 opened the event by welcoming everybody to Swedish Tornedalen and Tärendö. Directly followed by Johan Väisänen, founder and owner of Explore the North AB, who welcomed us to Arctic River Lodge – one of Explore the Norths three locations. Johan then told us the story on how he and his partner Sara Ljunggren started and developed their company with Särkimukka as a base. Today they have over 100 employees and more than twice as many huskies. Johans advice to new and future entrepreneurs was to be focused, dare to ask questions and see other tourism companies as colleagues instead of competition.
After that we all got to know a little more about the possibility to get investment support from different operators in both Sweden and Finland. Thanks to Anne Anttila from Outokaira tuottamhan ry, Karin Strand from Länsstyrelsen Norrbotten and Kerstin Sipola from LLU Tornedalen 2020 we got a little wiser when it comes to financing investments in a tourism company. Then it was time for us to be inspired by an expert on storytelling, food tourism and product development. Björn Ylipää from Måltidsvision served us with an hour and a half full of experiences, stories and recipes. With his roots deep down in the banks of Torne river Björn gave us examples of products and dining experiences with strong connection to our local history and traditions – like the Perkele potato. The conclusion however was to use your product, your place or the producer to create a story and making your product an experience.
To end the day, we all had a possibility to get a guided tour of Arctic River Lodge, which re-opened on the 18th of June after an extended renovation and with Explore the North as new owners of the location.
After a short paus, the evening program took by. With popcorn and sparkles in our glass we got a sneak preview of the first episode in a series of four, where Original Lapland meets Urskogens. In the series we will follow Lisa and Mikael in their newly started company during a whole year, to know their thoughts on developing the company and how everyday life might look like for an entrepreneur within the visiting industry. Then it was time for a well-deserved dinner, and as a surprise Jan Johansson (from JORD Music) arrived with his accordion mid-dessert. The evening ended with a multi-lingual singalong in both Swedish, Finnish, Meänkieli and English.
The second day we went into very hands-on workshops, focusing on calculations and social media-algorithms. But to start things off, Linda Tapper from Tre Älvar guided us through a yoga session to wake up both body and mind. Then the participants were offered two parallel seminars and got to choose which they wanted to attend. In one room Lars Munk from Heart of Lapland held a well-attended workshop in packaging, calculation and distribution. It was an almost three-hour long education, which for instance included guidelines on what is needed for a sellable package and tips on how to increase the visibility for your product. In the other room the participants had a chance to learn more about digital tools and online-sales. At first from Anne Kaakkuriniemi who presented some general features when it comes to online-sales and booking system. But also served us with deeper knowledge on Bókun as a booking system. She was followed by Laura Hokajärvi from Leader Fell-Lapland who showed a large range of tools and applications to use when working with social media and digital marketing for your company. Laura emphasized the importance of having current information on your pages and the fact that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to create a good visual image of your brand.
At last it was time to sum up the 24 hours of workshop and a few words to describe it were; inspiration, knowledge and of course co-operation.
THANK YOU to all participants and presenters who joined us in Tärendö for the first Original Lapland-workshop! We look forward to seeing all of you again.