If you work or study at SAMK, did you know an incoming travel agency dedicated to educational travel operates within our school? Then, meet EduTravel (formerly SAMK Bridge).
At EduTravel we organize visits for Asian students and education professionals interested in the Finnish educational system. The visitors attend classes or meet Finnish education professionals, and the reputation of the Finnish educational system makes Finland a very popular destination for education travel.
However, with EduTravel, the visitors are not the only ones benefitting from a learning experience, as every semester a team of students is hired, doing alternative tasks relating to their courses, which is also constructive for the travel agency itself. In normal times the work for students is mainly to prepare the visits for groups from abroad, and coordinating the details of the visits between foreign tour operators and our local schools and service providers. Fall 2020 proved quite different, however, with the pandemic and strong travel restrictions.
Studying with EduTravel
Last semester, Fall 2020, we were a team of 5 students: four of us second year and one a third year student of International Tourism Management. We all worked for the same goal: strengthening the basis of EduTravel and starting the foundation to make it more visible. If you answered yes to the question above “did you know that there is, in SAMK, an incoming travel agency dedicated to educational travel?” it means we had done a good job!
We had different tasks covering three different classes with alternative assignments to earn our credits:
- Digital Marketing Communication and Content Management: tasks relating to starting the foundation for visibility through the website and social media channels.
- Tourism Product and Experience Design: tasks related to building EduTravel packages (a very fulfilling experience learning what a package should contain and how to address the customer, which helped us build brochures with a much more comprehensive description of our beautiful Satakunta and all what visitors can discover coming here!)
- International Tourist and Tourism Markets: for this course two students wrote ABCs about cultural dos and don’ts in China and Japan.
This way we were given the opportunity to learn by doing, applying action to theory. There was a real professional outcome with responsibility added to the academic learning.
Learning by doing, as we did, is one of the main defining points of the Finnish educational system, as opposed to remembering facts by heart.
Another great opportunity we were given last semester was to participate in a virtual roadshow with Chinese tour operators, organized by Visit Finland, enabling Finnish suppliers to market their services and find new possible partners.
The roadshow took place for a full week late November and was mentioned on our Facebook page, and generated positive new connections. We, students, did not actively participate in the meeting (we had classes and other assignments), but we were very active in the preparation for it: two of us wrote introductions, one of us a sales speech, another prepared needs charting to define what the tour operator on the other end of the call was looking for, and two of us did some benchmarking prior to the roadshow to evaluate competition and define what was unique about SAMK EduTravel. This was really fast paced but went smoothly, and we received very positive feedback about our work. We were given daily details about meetings which helped especially the student doing the follow up after the meetings (informative emails to keep the new connections active).
This roadshow was a really interesting, fast paced project where we all got involved. It also opened the door to the possibility of virtual “camps” where we could organize online classes.
Working during a pandemic
Fall 2020 was really interesting as it gave us another perspective to working in a travel agency: internal development activities offered different experiences when tourism is more closed to travel than welcoming it. We were able to look more deeply at what needs constant attention, and this period of pandemic, ironically, was a perfect opportunity for this experience, as we did not have the stress of planning visits and could really concentrate on the tasks and assignments we were given.
Furthermore, knowing the activities of EduTravel also allows us to do half our internship there, which is like a life saver right now when the pandemic has made it hard to find a place to work and many students from the previous year are still looking for a place to do their internship too.
To SAMK students, if this interested you, make sure to apply next time a recruiting email is sent to all Tourism and Business Administration students!
Text: Marion Plouet and Bogdan Enacica, second year International Tourism Management students
Photos: Bogdan Enacica