Final destination: Stockholm
We arrived in Stockholm on Monday evening, July 3rd. The evening was quite a perfect and typical Nordic summer evening: pretty, light and rather cold. I felt like home.
We checked in, put our stuff in our rooms and headed out for dinner. Chicka had found a tapas place on TripAdvisor that was supposed to be a great one, so that’s where we went. And it was gooood! We spent a great night eating delicious tapas and drinking cava, and chatting about the trip. At some point it started to rain, and Stockholm felt even more like home.
The following morning it was time to head to the BCD Travel office. The office that we visited was actually the former Ticket Biz office as BCD Travel acquired Ticket Biz in November 2015. There we had the opportunity to meet Thomas Åden, the Vice President of the Nordics, and Joakim Krumlinde, the Commercial Director in Sweden . We immediately felt very welcome. We were introduced to the corporate travel industry in the Nordics, and I must say that even if I am from the Nordics myself, most of the things were completely new to me.
The first take away for me was about the diversity of the Nordics. There might not be many of us — in fact, the total population of the Nordics is about 28 million — but the region is very diverse, which is something that many underestimate. The Nordics is comprised of five countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, which all of them have their own languages, cultures and currencies. Sure, we might feel some kind of kinship, but still we are very different from each other . So, this diversity must be acknowledged and we cannot simply think of the Nordic countries as all the same when doing business.
The second take away is about different transportation modes. When talking about corporate travel in the Nordics, we must also think of other transportation modes than only air. For example, in both Finland and Sweden, railways need to be offered as a big part of the travellers choose to travel by train. In the past the focus has perhaps been too much on only air travel.
The third take away is about the size of companies — the clients of a travel management company. We cannot only consider big global companies. Yes, there are some very big Nordic companies, but there are even more small, successful SMEs and they are the ones growing. Thus, as a travel management company we must also focus on small SMEs and their needs if we want to be successful in the Nordics.
At the office in Stockholm we also got to talk with people from other departments. At the operations department I even got to listen to a call between the travel consultant and a customer. It was interesting and I kept being impressed by how quickly the travel consultant could find all the information needed. Impressive!
In the afternoon we got back to the hotel, changed to a warmer outfit and went out to explore the city. In the evening, we had a wonderful dinner with Christan Dahl, the Senior Vice President of Strategic Talent Management and Global Human Resources of BCD Travel. Christian took the time to come all the way to Stockholm only to have dinner with us. It was so much appreciated! We talked about our experiences — everything from the interviewing process to our travels, and what we have learnt during the journey. It was a lovely evening, a perfect last dinner together. The food was d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s and the company was perfect. After the dinner we walked together to the hotel through the city center of Stockholm, experiencing the real Nordic summer where the sun doesn’t really go down.
For six weeks we travelled together — Uriel, Mary and I — and now it was about to end. I definitely felt sad, but luckily we’ll meet again. And the real journey is just about to begin. ❤