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Everything you need for a cottage holiday

Tourism is a growing business in Finland, but organising a holiday can seem like hard work. The new Gofinland service turns this hard work into an easy task as it gathers all the information required for arranging a holiday in Finland onto one website. Our vision is to create a travel site that offers adventures, experiences and services for visitors from overseas as well as from Finland.

An atmospheric holiday home in Lapland, a cottage on a lake or a city cottage in the Helsinki region? Finland is packed with great cottages, attractions and activities. Finns love spending their holidays in cottages, being able to dip into a lake from the sauna. Or snoozing in front of the fire after a long day on skis, in the middle of nowhere.

There are around 27,000 travel service providers in Finland, most of which are small private companies. All the various places to stay, as well as attractions, activities, routes, and experiences are scattered throughout the internet, and finding the right information may take hours or even days. It is even more complicated to place bookings and orders on several websites.

Gofinland is the new service for holiday-makers going to Finland, launched by Alma Mediapartners. Its first version went live in spring 2015. It aims to have all the information you need about holidays in Finland in one place, including absolutely everything – from accommodation, attractions and adventures to all kinds of other services. Even now Gofinland already offers a wider range of summer cottages and holiday homes to let than any other Finnish website.

The goal is to have all information about holidays in Finland on one website.

"People planning a holiday want to find the information easily, and in future, all services must be available to buy on one website. Finding the information can be quite a struggle. It may well happen that holiday-makers never come across the most interesting experiences, the most suitable accommodation or the best restaurant," says Paula Jokisalo, Business Manager at Gofinland.

"Then again, we have noticed that the travel service providers' resources and time may be quite limited. They warmly welcome new ways of making their products more accessible on the internet."

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The Gofinland team: Jarkko Kangasluoma, Riikka Toppila, Paula Jokisalo, Mikko Puula, Jens Schnabel and Jari Lilja.

Marja Määttä from Rukan Salonki uses Gofinland's services. According to her, it is vital for a business to have the service it subscribes to as being top quality and flexible.

"Gofinland meets both these criteria. Our resort is very visible on the website. The speciality of the region, the SaunaTour, is a great way to get acquainted with the beautiful Kuusamo area. High-quality images are essential when informing our customers about our experience-centred products. The images we ordered through Gofinland exceeded all our expectations," says Määttä.

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Let your eyes and mind rest in Ruka.

Towards international services

There is a great demand for a service implemented according to the Gofinland concept among both service providers and holiday-makers, and there is no service to really fulfil this demand at the moment.

According to Jokisalo, the name of the service was chosen to ensure that it is also easily found outside of Finland. The Gofinland website will soon be launched in various languages to serve overseas travellers.

"We are a Finnish service, and our aim is to increase and support tourism in Finland. To succeed amongst international competition, we need innovative products that are produced in collaboration with partners operating in the holiday business from all over the country," says Jokisalo.

At the moment, the competition is against businesses abroad, but even they meet the same demand. Services such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor and Airbnb are international giants but they do not work for Finnish tourism nor is any of them specifically specialised in cottage holidays in Finland.

"Gofinland's core business is offering accommodation in cottages and other types of holiday homes in Finland; resorts and sites that are neither hotels nor private homes. When the service expands to provide information about the fantastic adventure and experience products on offer in Finland, it will have a considerable edge over its competitors."

Social aspect as the driving force

Jokisalo thinks that in addition to its extensive geographical coverage, Gofinland will also be driven by its social aspect. In future, users will be able to read each other's reviews, comments, feedback and recommendations on the website. Testimonials shared by holiday-makers are influential, but reviews on Finnish travel services and products are not available anywhere at the moment.

Experiences shared among holiday-makers have a huge influence on decision-making.

The social aspect will also be evident in the development of the service. Customers, their experiences and needs as well as travel service providers and numerous other stakeholders have been taken into account from the start; they have had their say, and information and experiences have been shared among all partners.

The development of this service started from scratch, which allowed us to focus on the most important features from the user perspective. The first step in surveying the needs was to interview holiday-makers staying in cottages.

"We wanted to have as clear a picture as possible of how holidays are usually planned. We built the website to respond to the behavioural patterns that we identified in the user survey in the best possible way. Experiences gathered from other Alma online services were also a great help," says Jokisalo.

Our aim is to be able to react to users' and customers' requirements as flexibly as possible. The website's user interface and properties will continue to change as we update them.

"Since there's so much to do, project management plays a vital role. We have to stay calm and have a clear idea of what our priorities are. Trying to do too many things at the same time in the name of efficiency – that's not an option. Yet the development process must be flexible enough so that we can manage even the fastest changes."

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Compatible with every mobile device.