First groups from China – SAMK establishes incoming travel agency
SAMK will set up a new international learning environment called SAMK Bridge, which is an educational travel agency operated by students. The operations will start in January 2019 at SAMK Campus Pori. The main objective is to organize educational travel packages in the Satakunta region, says senior lecturer Maaria Berg who is the executive director and teacher in charge of SAMK Bridge.
Incoming means travel to the company´s home country, in this case Finland, from abroad. SAMK Bridge aims at increasing international educational travel in Satakunta and it offers educational travel and development services to domestic and foreign B2B operators. These include e.g. Chinese tour operators, travel agencies and international offices selling educational tours as well as enterprises and corporations offering camp school travel services in Satakunta. As the name indicates, SAMK Bridge is a bridge between tourism service providers, -intermediaries and tour operators. At the top of the list is educational travel, which no other sales operator in Satakunta has focused on.
How will the new SAMK travel agency benefit education?
– The Faculty of Service Business includes the degree programmes in Business Administration, Tourism and Entrepreneurship. The students chosen from these degree programmes can carry out a part of their business, marketing and service development studies by working for SAMK Bridge in practical duties, supervised by teachers. This is called working life studification, Maaria Berg tells us.
Besides practical learning, the students will get experience in genuine customer service situations. This will give them a good picture of real working life, help them to network, to internationalize and ultimately be employed.
– The longer you work for SAMK Bridge, the more responsible your duties will be and the better the reference when searching for work, Maaria Berg sums up the concept.
According to Maaria Berg, first the new travel agency will recruit second year students willing to conduct a wider study module at the travel agency, i.e. 3–5 months long working period corresponding to 15–30 ECTS credits to be studified, or practical training. In addition, theses or other development projects are possible.
First camp school groups already on the way
– The first concrete duties are arranging camp school tours for Chinese student groups. Our students work in cooperation with a Chinese tour operator and act as tour leaders and coordinators as well as arrangers of accommodation and visits by agreeing with local enterprises and educational organizations, Maaria Berg tells us.
The first camp school groups arrive at the turn of January-February 2019. Several camp school groups have already visited Satakunta and educational tour operators have also visited to get to know the supply available.
– In the early stages the companies belonging to Project Growth from China to Tourism Enterprises will be included and their products will be developed to meet the needs of educational travel. The enterprises include Ali-Ketola Farm and Pitkäjärvi Recreational Centre in Kokemäki, Yyteri Beach in Pori, Sieravuori Holiday Centre in Eura and Kannisto Farm in Loimaa. Other tourism enterprises that are aiming at the international market and are interested in developing services for educational travel target groups are welcome to join us, Maaria Berg encourages those interested.
– Educational establishments at different levels of education are naturally important partners but so are also the students´ families in Satakunta as their schools and homes are visited by groups.
A broad spectrum of educational travellers
Besides China, in future educational travellers are forecast to arrive especially from India and Japan.
Educational travellers include for example student groups from children to young adults, principals, teachers and educational travel organization specialists and officials from the travellers´ country of departure. SAMK Tourism experts work in close cooperation with Visit Finland that promotes educational tourism as one of its key projects.
The students are supervised by expert mentors, i.e. senior lecturers and specialists in the Faculty of Service Business with competence in the fields of tourism business, corporate communication, visual and digital marketing, financial administration and China.
Educational travel agency supports the vision of SAMK “All our students will be employed” and our profile as an international higher education establishment. Tourism can be studied at SAMK in Finnish and in English in the degree programme of International Tourism Development.