An international Finnish tourism agency was brought to Lithuania by an active Kaunas citizen
Not by coincidence Finnish tourism agency “Timetravels” is known as the helper of Santa: it is the official partner and representative of the Santa Claus Village in Lapland. The agency specializes in experience travel to the Northern region, brings thousands of tourists far beyond the Arctic Circle every year and earns millions of Euros annually. This fall, it has opened a new client service centre in Kaunas. The decision to invest precisely here was the result of the efforts of a stubborn, active and persistent Kaunas citizen, Tomas Tamulevičius – the head of the new service centre of “Timetravels” in Kaunas.
“I was born in Kaunas, I grew up and went to school here, I also studied in both Kaunas universities – Vytautas Magnus University and Kaunas University of Technology. Therefore, I had no doubts where to build my business, I chose my hometown,” says the 27-year-old head of “Timetravels Baltija”, T. Tamulevičius.
Even at the university active and energetic young man wished not only to acquire knowledge, but also to expand his circle of acquaintances. Thus, as he says, he started from the small things and in a few years, he became the president of Erasmus Student Network in Lithuania.
“I recommend all to work in student organizations because there you can try everything. Only there I learned to plan five steps forward, structure project management and activities – all of the principles that I follow today,” Tomas shares valuable lessons.
After graduation, the future entrepreneur was already quite experienced in the organization of events and leisure activities, therefore, he decided to use that knowledge and leave behind the subjects he was studying (physics and industrial engineering). At that point he turned to organization of leisure activities.
Thus, the Youth Leisure Network was founded – it is an organization that helps foreigners who study in Lithuanian higher education institutions to discover Lithuania through the locals’ perspective. “Together with a group of like-minded people, we set up a public body, we worked on the principle of volunteering, we started everything from a scratch and we invested what we had at that point: our time,” Tomas remembers.
The string of successful coincidences – like a movie script
As the organization grew, there was a need to not limit itself to Lithuania, and Tomas turned his attention to the Scandinavian countries. Quite coincidentally, remembering the previously heard Finnish travel organizer, the active Kaunas citizen found the company’s corporate e-mail address, sent an introductory letter and offered to cooperate. “It’s unbelievable, but just in a few hours I received a response from Mikto Koistinen, chief executive and the owner of “Timetravels”. After a few days we had a video call and, in a few months, we were invited to visit Lapland,” Tomas tells the story worth a movie script, and laughs that the arrival of “Timetravels” in Kaunas, in fact, looks like an incredible string of successful coincidences.
Tomas has spent a summertime at the “Timetravels” office and he was convinced: the ideas of the owner of the Finnish company and his own were the same, their attitude to business culture and visions coincided – this became the basis of their cooperation. “I had to put in a lot of work to make the company decide to invest in Lithuania: not only I had to prove the benefits in terms of numbers, but also to gain Finns trust. If not that fateful letter and if not successful personal relationships, I have no doubt that “Timetravels” would not exist in Lithuania: the representatives of the company have not been discussing the possibility to expand into our country before.”
A chance for employees to travel
At present, “Timetravels” is expanding extremely rapidly, Chinese tourists arriving to Finland are increasing the profit, with a growing number of direct flights from China to Helsinki each year. “The company has already reached a critical point where expansion is inevitable, and all of the employees simply do not fit into two offices – in Helsinki and Tampere. Therefore, it was decided to entrust some of the jobs to employees of the service centre in Kaunas,” says T. Tamulevičius. Newly installed office of “Timetravels Baltija” in Kaunas already has the first three employees, by the end of the year there will be five of them, and in the next three years it is planned to employ up to three dozen specialists. “What kind of people are we looking for? From designers to customer service specialists. It’s important not just that employees have a good command of English, but also, they should be highly motivated. It’s not a job “from 8 to 5,” the most important thing is the result and an open approach to everything,” says the head of the service center.
According to him, this work is very dynamic, so it is especially interesting for young people: today the average age of all the employees of the Finnish company “Timetravels” is about 30 years. “Young people are attracted to work in an international, multicultural enterprise and to have broad opportunities for growth, training, projects and, of course, they can expect many trips! All of our employees try all the travel directions that we offer – how else could they tell the customer what trips we offer?” T. Tamulevičius names the advantages of the employer. The company will also search for Scandinavian speakers, especially in Finnish. The consultations with universities on this issue have already started – they ask for the possibility for Scandinavian students to do a practice in the “Timetravels Baltija” company with a job potential in the future.
“Further plans are to expand to the neighboring markets: Poland, Latvia, Estonia. In recent years, tourism trends have been changing in Lithuania: people are turning to more interesting directions and discovering the countries that have been forgotten before. For example, northern Europe. We will offer tourist packages straight to Lapland to visit Santa Claus, to the real Arctic, Northern Lapland – the place of Northern lights. And everything for very good prices,” promises T. Tamulevičius. Moreover, “Timetravels Baltija” intends to promote inbound tourism to Lithuania and, in particular, to Kaunas: from this spring, it is planned to transport about 300-400 tourists from Finland through the Baltic States. In Lithuania tourists will visit the Hill of Crosses, cities of Trakai, Vilnius and Kaunas where they will stay overnight.
“Timetravels” is the official representative of the Santa Claus Village, and owns the exclusive right to use the brand of Santa Claus. The tour operator brings up to 6-7 thousand tourists to Lapland over the season. Last year, the company’s income was about 7 million Euros, and it grows year after year by around 20%.
Photo from “Timetravels” Personal album. Information by “Kaunas IN” Business Division.