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Updated March 2022
Finland and the Nordics are considered winners of the new normal. Widely crisis free, nature driven destinations seem to be the winners. Within the Nordic context Finland is a leading winter holiday destination. However, due to Finland's location and decreased accessibility by plane and the lack of capacity during the main German travel season puts us behind during the summer. The importance of flight connections can't be underestimated, as for example Sweden and Denmark are reachable with a car and train so they already have a head start when comparing accessibility. Finnish culture is still widely unknown and behind the language barrier. Finland is known for northern lights, lakes, cottages, design, Helsinki and being a bit pricy destination.
Different crises have closed many destinations. Together with inflation and fossil fuel crisis, travel will become more expensive. In the spring of 2022, it is difficult to make any exact estimations as new geopolitical threats add complexity. In the best case, Finland is regarded as "near yet exotic" among the people who want to experience something new as travelling far away might be still limited.
We have seen a dramatic loss of capacity during the pandemic in airline seats between DACH-Finland. Market leader Finnair is now some 30 % behind prepandemic capacity (3/2022). The ongoing charter season has surprised us in Lapland where also Germans are regionally breaking records. The outlook for the coming winter is good with over 100 % additional seat capacity Lapland is published by Eurowings for winter 2022/2023.
Different parts of Finland have been well presented regionally, as a massive Finnlines campaign is running in Northern Germany bringing Finnlines ahead of 2019 sales. Additionally, Kuusamo was well-promoted in Frankfurt area for winter and summer seasons 2022.
Finland has remained present in German media with active media work and many stories published with a delay. Finland's visibility in the media has been on the increase as the German media is following the topic of Finland potentially applying for NATO membership.
Consumers have shifted to domestic travel since the beginning of the pandemic due to border regulations. The will to travel "Reiselust" is high when safe and pleasant holiday travel is possible again. In March 2022 the outlook is positive as pandemic regulations are lifted. However, the crisis with Russia limits travel to Asia and Eastern Europe.
Consumers are trying to play safe which seem to have two main characteristics:
1. It seems that online channels are winners in Germany. The classic travel catalogue and numerous promotions linked to printed offers is at stake as consumers decide impulsively when and where to travel. This goes along with digital media and influencers coming closer to the point of sale.
2. The role of tour operators remains high during crisis with better booking conditions and consumer safety. Some statistics claim that 75 % of booking are done at travel agencies now, as consumer are afraid to lose their money or to be stuck in a crisis area. German travelers with fixed holiday periods like school kids are usually careful and book at classic channels.
Travelling with the own car or a camper has been a winner and overland travel with public transportation has become trendy. During the pandemic the camping areas have been fully booked in Germany.
Nature experiences, sustainability, camping, biking, and hiking remain the biggest trends at the Finland audience during summer.
Keep it simple, think about your client traveling many hours to the destination. Good self-help information like how to get there, and who will help in case the traveler does not find what he is looking after, and this kind of basic assurance shows you think ahead.
Visit Denmark has launched its new slogan "land of everyday wonder" to highlight that there are small "wonders" to see, such as the white beaches (same time also noting that they are not bucketlist wonders). This gives a picture of a relaxed place where you can easily go and expect to experience something interesting.
Many persons have left the trade and lack of staff is one of the hottest topics which influences production, sles and marketing at tour operators.
The additional need of advice and overlapping booking and production periods are adding up to the lack of staff. This creates many challenges: from supplier side patience, speed and flexibility are important. Best if you can put administration of bookings online for the agent to manage 24/7.
Lack of resources is also hitting our visibility, as there is less budget to promote the trips. New kind of partnerships for distributions and sales are required as classic value chains are challenged.
The tour operators have managed well but the amount of travel agencies is quickly decreasing: today there are ca. 30 % less travel agencies in Germany compared to 2019. The digital disruption is visible as platforms take control of the marketplace. One can notice that the travel agents are busier this year than last year, for example when comparing the decreasing amount of people who joined FVW (one of the leading travel trade media) event from 2021 to 2022.
The winter direct flight development looks promising and finally Germany is taking its' place also as main source market for the wintertime with 4 holiday flight destinations and more brewing. Swiss and Benelux markets are performing very well in the winter.
Nature combined with Finland other main USPs happiness, freedom to roam, thousand lakes and finally sauna are all highly potential for our audiences and a dream come true combination in DACH. Safety and sustainability play an increasingly big role in travel decisions.
Finland owns Santa Claus and it works in Germany. Christmas is one of the main holidays with new year celebration which are often combined, and both together form a peak travel season.
Are our USP strong enough to drive business? Absolutely, but we might lose the client if we do not give availability for our products turning inspiration into frustration. Especially online channels are not "on request" and a clear "call to action" is critical for success.
We should also remember key selling points which complete our promise for the chosen holiday. Be it Winter Wonderland with huskies and Northern lights or chilling at your own rented cottage at your own beach enjoying the endless light during the summer clear & easy narratives should be used to inspire our prospects.
Main products are touring, cottage holidays, city breaks and winter holidays. Ideally our content is based on main products, USPs and key selling points should define the communication.
Sustainability is something we can own with the other Nordics and maybe we should conclude that sustainability is always inclusive in a Finland holiday? Now ca. 8 % are willing to pay more for a sustainable holiday but 70 % are reacting to the theme. In other words: market for "sustainable holidays" is niche but sustainability drives the decision for products for the majority.
Sustainability is a generational issue also, so millennials and younger people are highly aware of the environment. The message for the end customers might have to be communicated also in a B2C campaign, as the younger generation books less via travel agencies. Alternatively, effortless ways to show that a hotel that activity is green should be included in the B2C booking channel (be able to mark the hotel in Booking.com, in GetYourGuide and so on.)
It seems the holiday trends that became dominant during the pandemic remain on top as geopolitical tension continues limiting travel. The majority of Germans will stay close to home for summer holidays in 2022. Visit Finland will continue and strengthen marketing and sales promotion activities in the market and monitor the situation
The winter brought good recovery to our international winter destinations and the outlook remains positive.
The recovery from the pandemic is more complex than just pushing the button. We have less products on the market, less airline seat capacity, uncertainties in the pandemic development and some segments like business travel have been hit harder. On top of this, the geopolitical crisis might evolve in a financial or resource crisis that influences consumers and our possibilities.
There are concerns about the recovery of the classic sales channels and we most likely are looking towards footwork, trainings, fam trips to renew the offer of destination Finland and motivate our retail partners to offer and sell.
Workation might be the big thing as home office could be a holiday home office in Finland and new work concepts with access to business centers or team projects with incentives might turn strong.
Luckily Finland has a widespread target group in Germany according to the recent "Reiseanalyse". The interest based segmentation of the Finland target group by nepa works very well in this context.
Nature will remain our key USP and nature lovers our main target group. Good news is that nature is strongly increasing in importance, is seamlessly linked with sustainability. The combination could make Finland stand out in the future.
Saksa, Itävalta, Sveitsi, Alankomaat, Belgia, Luxemburg
DACH, Europe West
DACH, Europe West