• Finland
  • Helsinki, finally !

    tiinakivela.com/helsinki

    Finally !* because of a good selection of unique and even luxurious hotels in the Helsinki city centre.

    First in Helsinki opened the St. George by the Kämp Collection Hotels, then next week there will open Lapland Hotels Bulevardi (awww for Arctic Luxury below Arctic Circle) and already before this ones like Lilla Roberts (my current favourite) and Clarion Hotel Helsinki – a bit out of the city centre – have paved the way for Helsinki to be a city with a good selection of quality and vision to choose from when it comes to good night sleep.

    Next week, I’m myself going to Helsinki for business – Matka Travel Fair is waiting – and since the wellness theme, thinking of taking one or two of the above mentioned into closer inspection.

    Hear more about Helsinki after that, and soon more about Lapland, where I’m currently keeping in from a very arctic winter storm. It’s cold and stormy but oh so beautiful.


    Where: Helsinki


    * Could also be the snow Helsinki too has now.

  • BLOG
  • Visiting Finland November 2016

    Tiina Kivelä Lapland

    It was Arctic, Finland November 2016. Snowstorms in Helsinki, below -10°C degrees in Lapland, trains and planes delayed because the cold and snow, and for whatever reasons. And I was delayed from everywhere too, because the phone decided to freeze and because the sparsely build Finnish cities managed to surprise me, after months abroad in these cozily arranged Swiss towns.

    ONE EVENING IN HELSINKI, FINLAND

    But despite the cold Finland was nice. Most of the time. Seeing dearest friends is always nice. And Lapland is always nice, and Swedish Lapland was the nicest and the most tempting destination showing off in Skiexpo (yes, Swedes have eye for detail and style). And the Skiexpo sidekick party for Freeskiers, Vapaalaskuiltamat at Vanha, was also nice, but this time the hotel bed* and especially solitude, after 5 months in shared dorm-like flat, was more tempting than the party and films for more than short stop. Sorry friends, I can see them later online I hope. And hopefully see you all f2f in the Swiss slopes this winter; welcome to Jungfrau Region, I’m waiting!

    TWO DAYS IN LAPLAND

    And then there was the Lapland in details. Santa Claus Village, of course, as it happens to be so cozily on my way always. There was Arctic Light hotel, pampering with the in-room Sauna, polar bears and the famous, best ever breakfast! Highly recommended. And there was couple of drinks and beer tasting at friend’s place (greetings to Haarige Kuh Brauerei, you got very good reviews!) too.

    And then there was more Sauna at the original home, packing and frozen surroundings (and one broken red wine bottle in the checked in carry-on, damn.. (Goodbye that carry on and nice paper wrappers for swiss chocolate). And a last dinner at Roka, and way too early wake up call for the flight back.

    LOOKING FOR AN ASSISTANT

    After all this I have to confess that at some point during all that traveling, including the last day with wake up call at 4 am, 12h traveling in 2 flights and 2 trains, with 4 bags and couple of kilos too much, I decided this was the last time I took care of everything by myself. For the next time I’ll hire a personal assistant. Or find a husband, as that would suit better my poor budget… Or something. Too many bruises and aching muscles to count now, no matter how proud of myself I am after surviving the challenge in one piece and with all the bags (except the one^ destroyed by that bottle of wine).

    And in the end I would like to say, if this isn’t already clear enough: Go to Finland, and especially Lapland! It’s always worth it, and it kinda needs it. These days you can even take direct Germania flight from Zurich to Rovaniemi, if you’re from Switzerland or close.

    Or the other way round, dear Lapland people. Your host is waiting for the first guests! The cute little villages are dressing up with fairy lights and snow. Can’t get more idyllic for the end of the year. Both in Lapland and in Switzerland.


    *Ps. I have to ask, Clarion Hotel Helsinki Airport, where was the real butter and fatty milk for coffee in breakfast? ? Non fat is so last season, didn’t you know? 

  • BLOG
  • Hotels And Accommodations – Catch Up, Please

    Tiina Kivelä

    Suddenly it seems that hotels and other accommodations have totally forgotten that their primary business and selling article is hospitality. Suddenly, all they seem to be doing is complaining about the power and unfairness of third party online booking sites like Booking.com and Expedia.  It’s like they rather surrender and blame waste their energy on blaming others (= B & E), than concentrate on improving and developing their own offerings; services, products and especially the digital part. It’s like they would like to stick to their old models and comfort zone, rather than keep up with and utilize the many possibilities of (digital) today has to offer, for them and their customers.

    The spike in offers comes at a time when the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., has voiced its opposition to consolidation in the online travel agency business, such as the acquisition last year of Orbitz by Expedia, a deal that was particularly bothersome to hotels, they said, since they paid Expedia commissions that were higher than Orbitz’s.

    It also seems that especially the big players, ie. hotel chains, are most worried (or at least loudest ) of the development of the third party booking and OTA’s; maybe just because it’s more fitting for them that the “bad boy” label, which they easily tend to have themselves, is this way stamped on someone else. And I have to say, as a traveler and tourism professional, the discussion is both funny and painful to follow. Sorry guys, but as long as you don’t really take care that your own services and products are up to date and of good quality, and especially easily bookable / bought, you have no reason to whine on how well Booking.com is doing. Hospitality, what you should be doing primarily, is so much more than just booking business.

    Nowadays booking directly may also include the ability to check in on your smartphone. Making changes to reservations is often easier or more seamless as well. And of course there is the matter of the hotel’s rewards points. In general, you don’t get them if you book through a third party.

    For example, recently I booked an accommodation through Booking.com, which I haven’t done for ages. And pretty fast I noticed why I haven’t used the .com in ages; why I’ve rather been booking directly using hotel’s and other accommodation’s own booking channels, clicking the hotel, not Booking.com links in Google search results, and getting my reviews from somewhere else than the big players. Even though Booking.com many times offers the cheapest and easily booked alternatives, the other aspects, quality / hate selling / complicated adjustments / just the website design itself, makes it a no-go option for me. I’m willing to pay € or two more to get the kind of quality service and solution I prefer, and I do think I am not the only one. I also happen to know a thing or two about how to create quality content and get visibility, even in Google, without even touching Booking.com. I can read between the lines and I rather trust the reviews and recommendations done by the people I know, real journalists or just by someone who aren’t paid for the “review” = promotion, as some most of the today’s travel blogs tend to do, no matter how much they boost their “authenticity”. *Oh but sorry, I got sidetracked, let’s turn back to the highway…

    Expedia’s moves to lower commissions, tack on a tactical bidding program for hotel displays, and make itself friendlier to hotels and consumers by offering a pay-at-the-hotel option are all designed to ramp up Expedia’s business and to make Booking.com’s so-called “competitive moat” a little less imposing.

    Rather than whining, I’d advice you, accommodations provider, to look carefully on how you can offer me the best possible product / service, and the booking solution too. I don’t mind if it’s more expensive than what Booking.com is offering me – as long as it really offers me better experience than Booking.com. And lets underline this: You are in hospitality business, offering hospitality aka accommodation services, products and experiences, for travelers like me, while Booking.com, as b2b business, is offering you booking system services, visibility etc. which you, btw, could also buy and get from someone / somewhere else. Booking.com is not mafia, although you seem to like (us) to think so.

    And if your biggest problem is a signed contract which you haven’t understood fully when signing, as I’ve heard it’s the case with some of you, I can only offer you my sincere condolescences. And for the next time, if that ever happens, I’d advice you to first hire a lawyer or consult or just someone who’s wiser and knows better what to sign and what not.

    Better safe than sorry. And more good old hospitality than whine, please.


    More about the subject (and quotations from) here > 

    and here >


    * I work as a consult too: email tiinaetc@gmail.com and let’s see how I can help you.


    Tiina Kivelä