January 31, 2018
Winter is traditionally time of the biggest and most important celebration time for the Russians – the New Year. It is the time to be together with family, relatives and closest friends. The celebration of New Year and Christmas in Russia lasts for 1-2 weeks, depending on the year. First, there is New Year on the Dec 31 – Jan 1, and then the Orthodox Christmas, which takes place on Jan 6-7. Russians do travel a lot during that period, and it is becoming more and more popular to spend the New Years’ eve somewhere else than at home.
From Finland’s perspective, this time of the year means extremely high season, when speaking about Russian travelers. Finland’s pure nature, snow, relaxation, huskies and reindeer, safaris, skiing and of course “Joulupukki”, Santa Claus, are attracting people from the other side of the Finnish eastern border. From the destination’s or service provider’s point of view, it is important to remember, that Russians are demanding travelers.
Especially those, who are from St. Petersburg and Moscow, who are used to the rhythm of big cities, might assume that everything is open 24/7 and that all services are available and easy to buy just in a few minutes time also here in Finland. Therefore, it is very important to tell customers well in advance when everything is open during the holiday season, and how early they need to book their activities at Your destination. In addition, Russian-speaking staff is worth considering, as only every third Russian understands English.
It is extremely important to be aware of the fact, that those travelers, who come to Finland during the New Years’ time, are often visiting Finland for the first time. It is vital for all of us to remember this in order to be able to engage these first comers to visit Finland again. Open-minded, positive, and friendly service attitude together with informative and accurate communication are the key factors to ensure the success for the future with returning customers.
Spring is traditionally a low season for traveling. However, Russians do have a couple of national holidays in between. First is the “Men’s day”, which is celebrated on February 23. Right after comes the “Women’s day”, on March 8. When Men’s day is still seeking for its place in peoples’ minds, the Women’s day is the day, when people do celebrate “the better half” of the population and usually tend to escape the routines for a couple of days. From Finland’s point of view, it is an excellent time to promote wellness-packages and skiing holidays. Candles, roses, some little extra brought to the hotel room, special offers for him&her or little souvenir for children – these all are small, but important things which most probably will lead the customers to think, that they would like to come back to Your place again.
Other important holiday season for Russians is the 1st and 9th of May. People often also take vacations in between those days and travel abroad. Although Russians do love sunny destinations, Finland can still be attractive. How??? As this time of the year, it is still quite cold in Finland, not very green yet, and there might still be some snow… I would warmly recommend alluring the Russians with some cultural activities – museums, concerts, manors, master-classes, and interesting historical and cultural attractions. Cultural travel is an emerging trend in Russia, especially when talking about traveling to Finland, and therefore, this theme is absolutely worth of trying. (Nevertheless, of course, nobody is saying either, that traditional cottage holidays with fishing activities are going out of fashion).
Moreover, when speaking about Easter time here in Finland, please remember to communicate about it to Your Russian customers. Russia and Finland celebrate Easter often on different dates, and the traditions between these two countries differ a lot. So always remember: if You have Russian customers coming to visit Your destination during the Finnish Easter, it is important to tell them, when the shops, restaurants and other services are closed in order to avoid unnecessary letdowns. Russians might really not know, when and how Finns celebrate the Easter time.
Summer, on the other hand, is the most favorite time for Russians to travel abroad. Children have long vacations which often last from the end of May until the beginning of September. This is an excellent time for family and camp school packages. As parents do not usually have vacations as long as their kids, it is always a headache for them to think, where to put their children to spend some part of their vacation time. One trendy idea is to send the children abroad, for example to a language course. This can be a good opportunity for Finland: we are a safe country, with excellent quality of food and water and have one of the best education systems in the world.
There are already some tour operators, who organize their summer schools and camps here in Finland, but it is also important to be proactive from Your own side: it is not enough to only say, that customers can do everything they want in the destination. It is extremely important to offer ready-made packages with examples of program and activities included, and also emphasize that You will take good care of the children – when speaking about those little ones, who are still on their way to learn a foreign language, it is good to ensure, that there is always somebody, who speaks their own language, too.
When doing marketing for families and couples, I would recommend underlining our relaxing nature. Being born and raised in the 2nd biggest city of Europe myself, I know very well, how distressing it might be to spend a summer in a big city with all those car emissions, extremely hot temperatures and musty metros. People are becoming more and more interested in those destinations, which can offer escape from this dust and fuss. Finland is a perfect choice for that: very seldom extremely hot temperatures, mostly very comfortable and refreshing weather, pure nature, pure food, thousands of lakes – and no large crowds of people or many cars. It is pure relaxation!
In addition, in summer You could also focus on the millennials. Finland, with the most heavy metal bands per capita, has great festivals and events with something for everybody. You can find both luxury and budget travel segments among the Russian millennials. For example, Flow festival could be a perfect option for the luxury-oriented travelers. On the other hand, those traveling with smaller budgets, use often more modest accommodation and probably go to less popular events. But, You know what? Those budget travelers are usually students who want to test, how adult life tastes as its best. If they love their experiences here, they will probably come back later – with their spouse, kids, friends, and sometimes also with parents.
Autumn, like spring, is known for the grey weekdays and it is low season probably for all the northern hemisphere inhabitants. Still, Finland’s autumn has great potential on Russian market. In the first place, September is still popular time for spending summer holidays. Cottage life, fishing, berry and mushroom picking are popular and relaxing holiday activities. Secondly, people want to brighten their daily routines – and Finland can perfectly answer to that need. We have spas, cultural attractions, beautiful cities, cozy summer cottages and the breathtaking “Ruska”-time – so, autumn is a perfect season for marketing short city breaks or wellness weekends. Russians do not have as many holidays in late autumn as they have in spring, but there is still one, the Nation Unity day in the beginning of November. This is an excellent time for special package holidays for a long weekend break here in Finland. Autumn is also just the perfect time to pay more attention to our closest markets in Russia – St. Petersburg and Leningrad area.
According to our overnight statistics, October seems to be the most quiet period for Russians to travel to Finland, but we can see that the growing trend in overnights starts already in November and continues until the mid of January. So, have courage and use this great opportunity!
* Aleksandra Shakhnovich, member of Russian market team at Visit Finland
Interested in more information? Just contact our Team Russia representatives:
Sergei Shkurov – Marketing specialist, B2C & PR (suomeksi)
Aleksandra Shakhnovich – Sales promotion coordinator, B2B (suomeksi)
Renata Akzhigitova – Advisor, B2B (in English)