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How Up Norway is Revolutionizing Tailor-Made Travel Through Technology

How Up Norway is Revolutionizing Tailor Made Travel Through Technology 1 How Up Norway is Revolutionizing Tailor-Made Travel Through Technology

 

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In today’s episode, we talk all about using travel agency technology to help grow your travel business. Torunn from Up Norway is the founder of this incredible travel curation brand that is focused on sustainable luxury. They put together tailor-made luxury journeys within Norway, Torunn’s home country, for guests from around the world.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to speak with Torunn and hear about her passion for sustainability and her commitment to working with sustainable suppliers and creating partnerships that benefit both parties involved. She’s so down to earth, so transparent in her approach, and also such an innovator in this industry.

What I found really fascinating in this conversation was Torunn’s use of technology to streamline her processes, but also to get to know her customers and figure out what exactly they’re looking for, even if they don’t know. I think a lot of times business owners approach the technology side of their business as a bit of a pain point or as an additional thing that needs to be dealt with. Finding the right booking system or the right software is a bit of an afterthought at times, but for Torunn, it’s integral to the success of her business.

This conversation has really changed my perception of the role of technology within a travel brand. I hope this episode will equally inspire you to re-examine your use of technology within your own business.

Starting a travel business

Torunn’s love for travel started after she took part in a youth exchange in Australia when she was young. She did her education in Dubai and Switzerland and had several work experiences in different locations around the world.

At one point, she returned to Norway and realized her country wasn’t sold for what it was worth. She started her business in 2016, focusing on promoting Norway in a different way while acting on new travel trends and using digital channels to reach out to travelers directly. Torunn explains, “We call ourselves a travel curator. So I wouldn’t say we’re a travel agency. We’re more of a travel company or a travel specialist.”

Developing and using travel agency technology

Because the cost of labor is high in Norway, Torunn has focused on using clever technology in her company to reduce the time it takes to curate a journey, while creating a better and more personalized journey. In her business, they have created their own booking and admin system to service both clients and partners.

“We need to be able to service both our travelers and our partners, the suppliers, in the best way possible. So this technology is quite unique and it’s something that we’re still working on adding features to and improving.”

They’re thinking of eventually selling this technology to other travel businesses who need the same type of systems so they no longer need to rely on Word documents and Excel sheets.

And it doesn’t stop there. Torunn shares her vision that “technology is also going to help us learn more about travelers. Learn more patterns so that we can, in a way, build artificial intelligence into that system and maybe make some initial suggestions without guests having to wait for us to get back to them immediately. So for us, it’s essential to work with technology in the world that we’re living in today and it’s an important part of what we do.”

Aside from their own technology, they also use Travefy, to share digital itineraries with their guests, which is much more functional than using something like PDFs, which is the way travel itineraries used to be presented.

Sustainable luxury travel

Up Norway specializes in sustainable luxury travel, a term they keep working on defining. They curate personalized journeys for the modern traveler who is looking to have a real, authentic experience rather than travel with a focus on materialism or touristic experiences.

Journeys can be personalized to each traveler. “We map out someone’s preferences and interests, almost like a matchmaker, like a Tinder for travel. But rather than matching a person with a love partner, we match a person with the right experience based on their interests and preferences. And then we put that together in a seamless journey.”

Torunn shares that Up Norway is all about “being able to do activities in nature. Not just as part of a big group where you’re one in a crowd, but being able to spend private time as a couple, as a solo traveler, or as a family together with a professional and certified nature guide.” She thinks this helps people learn about nature, plants, climate change, safety in nature, and overall, taking care of nature in a different way.

They’ve also taken business travelers on visits to businesses that have changed from traditional industrial businesses that pollute, to now being circular businesses using green methods. And another experience they’ve facilitates is farm visits, where travelers can experience how ecological farming is done, see Norwegian animal welfare practices, and taste products directly from farmers.

More from this episode

  • How to design a questionnaire to help figure out what people want on a tailor-made journey?
  • What is Up Norway’s approach to marketing?
  • Do most of their travelers come from a particular place, or do they come from all over the world?
  • How does Up Norway find local suppliers and how do they make sure suppliers meet their sustainability requirements?
  • Why it’s important to collaborate with other people in your industry, rather than viewing them purely as competitors.
  • Does Up Norway avoid sending guests to places where there is over-tourism? If a potential guest is interested in visiting one of these places, how would they handle that?
  • Is there a technological component in their relationship with suppliers as well?
  • To what does Torunn attribute the growth of Up Norway? How has she developed the team behind her, and how does she see her role in the business as the founder?
  • What is her vision for the future of the business going forward?
  • Torunn’s advice for someone who’s just getting started in this industry.

Learn more about Torunn

Torunn holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management from The Emirates Academy and Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne, as well as an MBA from the Norwegian School of Economics. She has held positions in leadership, quality management, and experience development with Anantara Hotels in Thailand and Maldives, Jumeirah Hotels in Dubai, and Aman in Bhutan. Before she founded Up Norway in 2016, she worked for seven years as a consultant in the Norwegian hospitality and tourism industry. Her specialties are quality assurance and experience development.

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Kara Myers

PODCASTER + WEB DESIGNER

I’m a former tourism professional turned web designer and podcaster. Tune in each week as I interview inspirational women crushing it in the travel industry. 

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