As ScandAsia has previously reported, the Finnish tourism industry are making continuous efforts to draw Chinese tourist to the country. The latest initiative is Chinese speaking guides that greet Chinese passengers at Helsinki Airport.
Chinese tourists often face a language barrier, which can prevent them from using the services the airport offers. The guides help them navigate the airport and to use the airport’s commercial services, such as shopping.
“Some 300,000 Chinese passed through Helsinki Airport last year, an increase of about 50 per cent over the previous year. For the first time ever, the Chinese eclipsed the Russians in number. For us, Chinese customers are an important group that we wish to serve to the best of our abilities”, says Finavia Director Jukka Isomäki.
Helping Chinese passengers to shop is good business, as Chinese tourists spend more money in the airport than any other nationality. The Chinese speaking guides explain the visitors about the products and tell the story behind, which raise interest and increase sales.
“It has been great to see that the Chinese travellers have discovered our guide service. The commercial operators at the airport have also expressed their gratitude, as their sales have improved thanks to the Chinese travellers being helped by the service,” says Isomäki.
The guides also recommend products and souvenirs to Chinese passengers and give advice on tax-free sales and tell them which credit cards and other payment methods they can use in the airport.
The initiative commenced in June 2016 and, as of today, the guides have faced about 20.000 Chinese visitors. The guide service is a joint venture between the Finnish company Finnavia that owns Helsinki Airport and Lenoni Oy, a Chinese company that specializes in Chinese culture and consumer habits.
“Finnish health products, like berry powders and fish oils, are also popular, as the Chinese appreciate the clean air and nature of Finland”, he adds.
“Chinese travellers wish to buy Finnish products as souvenirs, but cannot tell which products are Finnish and are often unable to request assistance in English from the sales staff. Many questions are indeed about Finnish products and ideas for gifts. For travellers, the service in Chinese comes as a pleasant surprise”, says Zhouyan Li, one of the Chinese guides at the airport and the CEO and founder of Lenoni Oy.
The guide initiative will continue at Helsinki Airport throughout 2016, after which the venture’s future will be discussed.
“Wishes for even more personal service have been expressed. If we continue the service, we might expand it to include Personal Shopping Assistant style service and also other languages,” says Isomäki.