Bussi talvimaisemassa. Kuva: Pohjolan Matka

Responsibility creates customer loyalty

A customer survey conducted by Pohjolan Matka revealed the importance of safety and reliability

Tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo is founded upon the region’s magnificent natural attractions. Hence, the promotion of responsible tourism is especially important for local tourism businesses. Through the Sustainable Travel Finland program (STF) by Visit Finland, companies can incorporate sustainable practices and responsible choices into their daily operations.

Pohjolan Matka's decision to join the STF program was prompted by international customers' inquiries about the company's responsibility.

Pohjolan Matka's international corporate and private customers, as well as tour operators, had been inquiring about bus fuel types, idling, waste recycling, and driving behavior monitoring for some time. When the application for Visit Finland's Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) program started in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic subdued travel package, line, and charter traffic, the company finally had time to thoroughly delve into sustainability issues.

— We had already collaborated with Visit Finland. As a national, international, and strong organization, it seemed a natural partner in sustainability issues as well, Piia Räty, Marketing Manager of Pohjolan Matka, explains.

Pohjolan Matka had already been monitoring drivers' driving habits and idling before the STF program. Lassila & Tikanoja's Environmentnet digital service took the monitoring a step further by introducing data on waste management, recycling rates, and carbon footprint. New was also the monitoring of water and energy consumption.

Pohjolan Matka employs a total of about 250 people, and the most challenging task was to implement a sustainability mindset across the entire team.

— There was no choice but to repeat instructions regularly and report on the results, such as how a decrease in the idling percentage impacts the environment and is also reflected in euros, Räty explains.

Bussi ruskamaisemassa. Kuva: Pohjolan Matka

Domestic, reliable and safe

Räty emphasizes that responsibility is much more than just minimizing emissions. In 2023, a sustainability survey conducted by Pohjolan Matka revealed that the company's customers prioritize social responsibility even above societal and ecological responsibility.

Respondents described Pohjolan Matka as domestic, reliable, service-oriented, professional, and safe. The perception of Pohjolan Matka as a responsible actor was 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5.

— In addition to statutory checks on our vehicles, we also conduct additional ones, such as fire inspections and comprehensive pre-departure checks. We now also communicate these inspections to our customers. It enhances their trust in us and their feeling of safety while traveling. We introduce our staff, give them faces, and tell them that they can personally contact us, Räty says.

A new aspect of Pohjolan Matka's sustainability program has also included stakeholder and customer participation in sustainability work. In addition to allowing stakeholders to influence the company's goals, Pohjolan Matka has created a sustainability quiz for its customer events, asking about the company's sustainability issues.

— It's a fun way for our customers to learn about them. At the same time, we get information about what we should be able to communicate to them even better, Räty says.

In conclusion, Räty reminds that mere rhetoric is not enough nowadays. International customers are very aware of greenwashing and dialogue washing. There must be results, facts, and actions. In order for the data to be of practical benefit, it must be monitored and the results must be able to be reported both internally and externally.

— No one is ever finished with sustainability work. For us, it is even more challenging as our fleet relies on fossil fuels and there is no viable alternative available yet. We strive to do our best to reduce our environmental impact. However, traveling by wheels produces significantly fewer emissions than flying, for example.

Räty would encourage other Ruka-Kuusamo area businesses to engage in sustainability not only for the environment but also for the customers.

— Responsibility creates customer loyalty, Räty states.

Read more:
Sustainable Tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo
Pohjolan Matka

Published: 3.6.2024
Text: Pauliina Toivanen
Photos: Pohjolan Matka

Pohjolan Matkan bussi maalaismaisemassa