Quality Hunting in Helsinki
Quality Hunters 2013 is a Finnish initiative set up by Helsinki Airport and Finnair. It is a two-day workshop, bringing together frequent-flying passengers and service development professionals, with the aim of coming up with practical ideas to make travel smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.
When in Helsinki… it’s fish for breakfast: the most delicious salmon and smoked trout, freshly-squeezed apple juice, and a great cup of tea.
Over breakfast I met John @thatjohn, who was apparently brought up on planes as his parents worked for the UN; Charles @CharlesRyanTeo who works as an aviation-loving teacher; and Holger @HolgerLeue, a fellow photographer looking at the world from the perspective of ships and planes.
We talked about aircraft, runways, and scary landings around the world. After all those spine-chilling stories of wind, rocks, cloud bases and aborted landings, they are all sold on my nearest airport, small and safe Gibraltar!
Then the workshop commenced, without delay: Erik Bäckman from the Finnish PR company Millton ran the show, with staff from Finnair and Helsinki airport. Participants had flown in from all around the world: New York, Singapore, Tokyo, Germany, London, Spain… habitual travellers – adventurous, positive-minded people who we all love to be around; not an airport-hater in sight. The discussion was constantly lively and animated, with each person more enthusiastic than the last.
Nikos spends his life tweeting and writing about airline food @InflightFeed was instantly enamoured with the lovely Maarit who is responsible for meal concept design on Finnair flights.
Laura @AboutLondon a journalist and London based expert, she was the frst to arrive in Helsinki and gave lots of great tips on the city. Laura has a young daughter and she provided us a useful insight on travelling with kids.
Jason @airlineflyer never ceased to amaze me with his encyclopaedic knowledge of all the plane names and numbers; he also introduced me to the #AVGeek hashtag.
Helena @HelenaKaartinen is an extra-special female flight attendant who oozed natural style – we all wanted to board Helena´s plane.
Adventure seeking Aku @akuvaramaki, heads Finnair´s Social Media Manager, Jouni Oksanen. Director of Inflight entertainment at Finnair entertainment gave us sneak previews into his inflight world. Kati Ihamaki who writes on environmental issues in the Finnair blog, Tiina Honkanen Duty Manager for Finnair at Helsinki Airport Customer Service and our flight organising “hostess with the mostest”, Maria Koistinen headed the Quality Hunters tweeting team, keeping the online #qhworkshop participants well informed.
I was impressed that Finnair had a pilot on the team, Sami @sami1laine, who was also interested in photography. If I hadn’t become a photographer, my second choice of career would have been a pilot. So many synergies in the room, no wonder that our team, encouraged by
think-tank leader Erik from Miltton, came up with so many great ideas.
We talked about everything from plane seats, lighting, luggage storage, inflight entertainment and food, to visuals, reception desks, flowers, aromas, and aircraft of the future.
Great crowd, Quality Hunters, I must say. Lots of bonding went on and new friendships were made over the two days. We came up with oodles of ideas – 50 to be precise – and it was such fun. We even got to act out some of our scenarios, complete with costumes and props.
As with any group that bonds so well, it was sad to take our leave, but I´m sure we will keep in touch. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the great ideas implemented on Finnair – this is one forward-thinking airline. One thing that really stood out was that every single person loved their jobs – many thanks to Finnair and Helsinki airport for bringing us all together under one roof! I won´t disclose any of the fabulous ideas, but I will say to any other airline spy reading this: once Finnair puts some of these ideas into action, the buzz from the newly-improved passenger experience will speak volumes.
And as if the day couldn’t get any better, there was an extra-special added bonus for me: Sami the pilot introduced me to the Finnish Museum of Photography, where we enjoyed a surrealist exhibition of photos from the early 1900s – images pre-dating Photoshop by a long way, immaculately prepared and distributed, with many prints from Russia and France.
In the bookstore, I bought a book by Elina Brotherus – a collection of work shot in her Paris studio which I will treasure.
Want to read more stories from Finland?
Read all about Michelle chaplow´s first ever trip to Helsinki right Here