• BLOG
  • Love Letter For Swiss Trail Signalization

    Tiina Kivelä

    I miss you, Switzerland. I’ve been in Finland for three weeks now and even though it’s quite nice here too, I can’t help thinking of you every other minute. You had me at hello last year, and I can’t wait to get back to you. You keep me focused, and your quality of life is just awesome. No-one is perfect but for me, you are good enough. You keep me on track, you keep me fit and you make me happy. And you make exploring, a thing which makes me extra happy, so easy. 

    Up here in Lapland, I feel a bit lost without you. In a matter of fact, I’ve been literally lost a few times, missing your trail signalization. Not in a boring way, there’s still the excitement and challenges left. But you have the base set so that I can concentrate on the other things rather than keeping myself on track. You make sure I find my mountains and my way home in the evenings, without needing to think about it so much. Up here, too many times it’s all about finding the start, the middle and the way home. Views come second when I need to translate the bizarre logic of Finnish trail signalization.

    In Switzerland, all I have to do it jump off the train or my house and find the first signs of by you at the corner of the station/street/condo. Compared to most of the countries, you understand that the trip starts with one’s mind and you don’t let me in trouble searching for the start point already. No, you put the sign pointing to nearest peak right there in the train station. And off I can go, conveniently and excited.

    Some times I have been a bit confused, even with you. When you haven’t been there at every crossroads and when you haven’t pointed to the destination I’ve been initially looking for. But in most cases, an additional map with all the trails (like this – you may click and view the hiking trails from the menu on the left-hand side) would have helped me to solve that little puzzle. After all, it’s good that you also remind me to trust myself and be comfortable with my insecurities. And many times, getting lost ends up being the best part of the trip. As long as it doesn’t end badly.

    I really hope you don’t forget me while I’m away. I’m more than fine sharing you with others but I can’t wait to meet you again next week and let you guide me higher.

    And I will follow you, always.

    Yours, Tiina.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Short Guide To Swiss Trail Signalization and Scales

    • Hiking trails (Wanderwege) are generally accessible trails and usually determined for foot traffic. They generally lead aside from roads carrying motorized traffic and are usually not surfaced with asphalt or concrete. Steep sections are negotiated with steps and areas with the danger of falling are protected by hand rails. Streams are crossed by catwalks or bridges. Hiking trails make no special demands upon the users. Signalization for hiking trails is yellow.

     

    • Mountain trails (Bergwanderwege) are hiking trails, which partly access difficult terrain. They are mostly steep, narrow and exposed in places. Particularly difficult sections are secured with ropes or chains. In certain circumstances streams can only be crossed via fords. Users must be surefooted, have a head for heights, be physically fit and have knowledge of dangers in the mountains (rock falls, danger of slipping/falling, sudden changes in the weather). Solid boots with good sole profiles, equipment appropriate to weather conditions and topographical maps are preconditions. Signalization of mountain trails is a yellow signpost with white-red-white tip. White-red-white painted stripes confirm the route.

     

    • Alpine routes (Alpinwanderwege) are challenging mountain trails. They sometimes lead across glaciers and scree, through rockfall areas and through rocks with short climbing sections. It can not be assumed that any structural provisions have been undertaken and these would in any case be limited to securing particularly exposed sections with a danger of falling. Users of Alpine routes must be surefooted, have a head for heights, be physically very fit and know how to use ropes and pick axe as well as being able to negotiate climbing sections with the aid of their hands. They must have knowledge of dangers in the mountains. In addition to the equipment for mountain trails, an altimeter, compass, rope and pick axe for crossing glaciers are essential. Signalization of Alpine routes is a blue signpost with white-blue-white tip, white-blue-white painted stripes confirm the route. The information panels at the beginning of Alpine routes indicate special requirements (more info here).

     

    • The signalization of SwitzerlandMobility routes (Die Wegweisung der Routen von SchweizMobil – you’re welcomeis standard throughout Switzerland. It is based on Swiss norms for signalization of non-motorized traffic (SN 640 829). It was revised for the realization of SwitzerlandMobility and today is the only international norm for standard signalization of non-motorized traffic. The yellow signs for hiking trails, white signs for the barrier-free routes and red for cycling, mountain biking and skating routes were supplemented for SwitzerlandMobility with the addition of route information panels including route names and numbers. One-digit numbers indicate national routes, two-digit numbers indicate regional routes and three-digit numbers indicate local routes. The route information panels are green for hikers and barrier-free routes, light blue for cyclists, ochre for mountain bikers, violet for skaters and turquoise for canoeists. These colours are also used by SwitzerlandMobility to illustrate the various routes e.g. on maps, information signs and the Internet. 

    Source & more information: Wanderland.ch / Difficulty scales by Sac.ch


     

     

     

  • 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